I have been teaching English online to children in China for over a year now. While there have been many awesome benefits to this experience, there have also been a few bumps along the way. Some of these things were certainly to be expected and come naturally with any online or teaching experience in general. However, there are a few things that I wish I would have known about before signing my contract and undertaking this position, if not purely for my own contentedness. Teaching English online certainly has its positives, but, as with any job, the negatives, or shall I say, “challenges’, should be addressed.
Incidental language is one of the major infractions that will automatically get points docked from your interview/mock lesson score and lower your performance review. This is because when practiced in an ESL classroom, especially with newer learners, it throws off the flow of your lesson and puts your students in a confused, agitated, or non-responsive state which, in turn, can lose both you and the company clients. This type of language is speech that would not be a problem to use when conversing with native or fluent English speakers. However, when teaching in an ESL classroom, especially an online one, it’s the ultimate killer. This is because, as foreign language teachers, we are required by duty to speak slowly, carefully, clearly, and to the point, catering to each student’s individual capacity and level. It’s only natural that we use it in our daily lives, so we are completely accustomed to it. Most times, we don’t even realize that we are doing it. In fact, it takes a conscious effort to train yourself out of the habit. Here are some examples of the incidental language that I was guilty of using in my early online ESL teaching days and tips for how you can easily tweak or totally avoid it.
There is one common denominator that dominates the teaching criteria required by all online ESL companies, especially the ones geared toward teaching beginners and young students: Total Physical Response (TPR). This methodology involves a series of techniques that focus on using the body through gestures and facial expressions in order to facilitate understanding and solidifying learning. Every online company that I’ve interviewed with and/or worked for has prioritized TPR above all else, as it is the one nearly fool-proof way to get your point across to students. While TPR motions can be considered fairly obvious, it is crucial to remember to be consistent when using them. If you are going to assign a gesture to an action, word, or sound, make sure you use it all the time, and encourage your student to use them, too. Below I’ve listed the TPR gestures that I use most frequently with short descriptions on how to put them into effect. Good luck!
Whether you’ve just been hired by an online teaching company or are branching out on your own, you need to approach your new teaching position as a personal business. Like any other business, teaching English online requires reaching out and selling yourself to students, building up clientele, and keeping them loving the service that they receive. Don’t expect this to happen overnight. Students from all over the world have an increasing number of options when it comes to choosing an English company and specific teacher, so making yourself stand out is definitely a crucial element of success- and I don’t mean just by offering the lowest rates. After all, teachers deserve to be compensated fairly for their work in order to support themselves. Getting students for your online business will take a while, but I do have some tips for kickstarting the process and getting you well on your way.
When teaching young students online, particularly if they are beginners to the language or new to your classroom, it’s typical for parents to sit and watch. Often times, these parents will scrupulously dissect your lesson and leave pretty strong feedback. The expectations are high, and you are expected to deliver. Certain elements of teaching should go without saying and be inherently understood, such as a commitment to professionalism and being on time. It should be considered common sense to act courteously, refraining from yelling, aggressive behavior, and giving excessively negative feedback and reprimands. Dress should be modest and not distracting, and personal upkeep is important, as well. While it might seem like a huge bonus to wear your pajama bottoms while working through a computer screen, it’s important to project the impression that you’ve prepared for class and not just rolled out of bed- fixing your hair, wearing a plain top, etc.. Being on time should also go without being said, just like with any other job. However, there are some common complaints from parents that new online ESL teachers might be unaware of. Avoiding certain behaviors will make your ratings higher and your schedule more bountiful, which is good for everyone, right?
Golden Voice English (GVE) is a Toronto based company that teaches online English lessons to Chinese elementary students across grades one to nine. GVE offers a range of packages for students to meet online with a regular tutor between one and five times per week. We have created engaging and interactive lessons that are based on the Chinese government mandated English curriculum. All curriculum, including powerpoint presentations and lesson plans, are created in GVE’s Toronto office by a talented team of Chinese and Canadian education experts.
GVE is part of a growing industry of online English education programs that are available to Chinese elementary students. Three important factors make GVE a particularly unique and desirable company for ESL teachers seeking new tutoring opportunities:
Teaching English online is very different from teaching in a classroom. The lesson planning skills you acquired in the TESOL certification course will definitely help you to create interactive activities for your students and replace the textbook with songs and videos, but your personality will also make or break your experience teaching English in front of a screen. Teaching online just doesn’t work for some people! This blog we will look at different qualities that online ESL teachers must have in order to succeed.
Total Physical Response is super effective for teaching verbs and adjectives. However, this can lead to overindulgence. Plus, it can quickly get boring if overused. Being overly repetitive takes the fun and novelty out of the experience. Adjust the length of certain TPR-based tasks to fit the needs, mood, and ability of your student. Here are more tips for using TPR to teach English online.
Teaching English online has become all the rage in recent years. Students are quickly grasping at the opportunity to learn from the comfort of their own home, often one-on-one with a teacher across the world. Companies offering online education are popping up left and right across the world, leaving many teachers tempted by the ease of transitioning to this type of career. However, the inability to be tactile (or the perception of such) can quickly negate any and all positives that can come from an online lesson. One fool-proof way to combat this is to incorporate Total Physical Response (TPR) into as much of the lesson as possible, especially with young children and beginners.
ESL teachers build a tool belt throughout their career, perhaps starting with nothing but an online search or taking what they’ve learned from university or a TESOL course. Flashcards, games, listening exercises, and storytelling methods are only a few of the most common resources that teachers can use, and it’s essential to have options appropriate for reading, listening, speaking, and writing. No matter how long (or short!) you’ve been teaching English, you can always add more resources to your tool belt. Even the most experienced ESL teachers need new resources now and again, and this is often even more true in the online teaching realm, where students and their levels can change quite regularly. Below you will find the best resources for teaching ESL online.