More and more people around the world are turning to the Internet to learn English and other languages. Teachers who usually teach in traditional classrooms or new teachers may have a difficult time learning how to manage an online ESL classroom. Each type of tutoring software has similar capabilities, but there may be some differences between each, such as the amount of students that are able to speak at one time.
Online English as a second/foreign language classrooms typically will top out around 5 to 6 students. This means that your attention will only have to be divided between just a few people. However, this can also bring certain challenges. Online students expect that they will have ample time to practice speaking English.
You, as the teacher, must control the amount of time that a student can speak, though, in order to give other students a chance to talk. A useful feature of online tutoring is that you can control who speaks in a lesson. One student may take up too much time and tend to dominate the conversation or lesson. Turn off the student’s ability to speak when he comes to a stopping point. Move on to the next student or lesson point. Remain polite, and thank the student for his contributions.
Give each student the chance to respond to a question in the lesson, if time allows. If not, have the next student answer a different question in the lesson. Lessons often take the form of PowerPoint-like presentations that include discussion material. Some questions can take longer than others to answer. Try to gauge the amount of time needed for each one or reduce the number of questions in order that your lesson strikes a balance between speaking practice and staying within your allotted lesson time.
Move in a predictable pattern from student to student during the lesson. Your students will be listed in a window of the tutoring software on your screen. To help you remember who spoke last, ask Student 1 to answer a question or read a text again when the Student 5 of 5 has finished.
Give your students time to ask questions periodically during the lesson. It is not as vital that the entire lesson is covered as it is that students understand and retain what you have gone over thus far during class. At the end of the lesson, allow your students to ask any more questions or to give you feedback on the lesson to improve your teaching next time. Some online English tutoring companies allow students to give their feedback after a lesson to a teacher using companies’ own feedback forms.
Finding the proper balance between teaching all of the material in the lesson and giving students the practice time they need to improve their English can be tricky. Try these different ideas alone or in combination to find the best online teaching style for you.