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Using TEFL Techniques and Experience in Online Teaching

Using TEFL Techniques and Experience in Online Teaching | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Teaching English as a foreign language has some very specific techniques as opposed to general classroom instruction. Just a few of these techniques include not correcting students immediately, encouraging a more open classroom, and using presentations or group work to present material.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Maggie H. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.


Like any teaching, it is critical to get the students engaged, but with ESL there are specific techniques as well as a suggested order to be successful. This includes engaging students, then several levels of studying the material, and finally activating the learned materials. All of these techniques can be much more difficult in an online setting. The majority of online instruction is one on one, or possibly up to four on one. You are rarely dealing with a large classroom and more typically focused on one student. This is especially common with the younger, earlier students.

The skills I learned in this course regarding grammar, sentence structure, tenses, etc will be very helpful. However, the tips to get students to engage with each other, including possibly pairing stronger students with weaker students and even the presentation suggestions will not typically be used in an online classroom

Also Read: How do I choose a TEFL course?

Phonetics and Phonology

I believe one of the most important techniques I will use in an online classroom will be related to Phonology. The detailed consideration of stress, rhythm, and intonation will be extremely helpful. Many online teaching jobs include prepared lesson plans including slides and a structured series of sessions. This is something that theoretically a student could do on an app without a live instructor. The value of a live instructor is the subtleties of helping with the Phonology and pronunciation. The technique of moving close to the camera during an online session and showing the student the placement of your tongue is uniquely possible in online teaching. Being able to demonstrate palatal, alveolar, and dental differences should result in great success with online students. The online teacher is also able to have the student get close to the camera and correct any pronunciation problems by addressing tongue placement if necessary. Also, by encouraging free speech as well as extending lessons specifically related to the students' skill level.

Also Read: Why Learning Grammar is Essential

Supportive Materials

To extend online lessons, I am looking forward to using the many techniques you covered in the units. Tools like: hangman, memory games, pass the ball, and more. To work on intonation, I am looking forward to using the idea of nonsense words, especially with younger students. I know they will love that! These techniques will also help establish rapport. Singing will also be a great technique to emphasize stress and intonation. I even have an inflatable microphone to use as a prop for online teaching!

Another skill that I think will be critical for teaching ESL online is techniques for dealing with reluctant students. In an online setting, you cannot walk up to a student to get their attention. You have zero control over their environment and any possible distractions including even cell phones. I like the technique of role-playing to force participation. I also like the fill in the gap technique to try to reconnect with a distracted student.

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In summary, I believe that many of the techniques, tools, and tips I have learned in this class will help me be a successful online teacher.

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