Online teaching is the most popular form of distance language learning today and is growing at a stealthy pace. It has become a huge phenomenon in the teaching world and is a dynamic proven to assist learners of all levels and needs with successful results. Lessons take place over the internet through platforms like Skype, Google Hangouts and Zoom, etc. with video.

It used to be referred to as e-learning or distance learning but has evolved into online teaching/learning.

Within the past decade, it has grown into a lucrative service all over the world. This online teaching process enables students to learn in the comfort of their own home/workplace or study place with qualified (at least TEFL) native teachers working remotely.

In the beginning, it proved to have a mostly positive impact on young students before starting secondary education but now the trend is ever-increasing for students of all levels and needs with some as young as 3 years old.

Why is it so important? What are the advantages

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There are a number of positive factors to the importance of this industry! The most important is the opportunity to learn with a native teacher just about anywhere. People with disabilities who can’t or struggle to attend a class can have the teacher come to them digitally.

In overpopulated countries like China and India students can avoid major traffic problems for after school classes. Students can have their lessons adapted to their requirements, learn at their own speed and also avoid intimidation from others which can happen in class occasionally. The added bonus is that students will naturally improve their communication skills in a second language.

Teachers can gain valuable experience working with students from all over the world, learning different cultures, meeting all kinds of people from their own home or office. Teaching is a gift and thanks to the internet today teachers and students have unlimited opportunities.

Peer advice for beginner teachers

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The first and foremost thing to do before you start teaching online is to have a vision of what you want to achieve. This is not just a fill-in job, this is a teaching role just as if you were in a classroom where students rely on you to fulfill their needs.

The virtual classroom brings with it a whole new territory away from traditional classroom methods. However, to be effective you must start by being punctual and present! If you are not teaching through an online lesson platform then you must set your expectations for each group or student. Always look active online by offering discussions and maybe a forum for your students.

Top tips for success

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Your students are more than likely to be indifferent time zones so planning is essential! Winging lessons is not accepted as it was in the early years so having your syllabus imprinted in your brain for each one and preparing materials and activities way before the class session is essential.

Students like structure so don’t just spring something on them because you are not organized. Online teaching requires a super strong internet connection and reliable equipment. A certain knowledge of tech will go a long way. If you are going it alone it is worth researching some available platforms that have been tried and tested.

Once you have your platform, learn it back to front and inside out.

In general, working remotely can be tough at times so get into self-discipline mode and avoid distractions! Set up your working area to be associated with the language you are teaching, so your students have a visual that is encouraging yet not too messy or distracting.

A flag, famous person, building and sports image should be enough. Very often I use the “be polite words” like Excuse me! Can I help you? Sorry! Please! Etc. Your space should also have natural light and no noise disturbances.

Bring some warmth into your virtual classroom and have a chat with your students about areas they are struggling with. For example, some students may struggle with pronunciation so take the time to get them through it and give them merit.

In other words, make them feel good and motivated. They also need to know you are contactable so offer the honest times you can be online. Students love feedback so set up a system where you do this.

It can be difficult to keep some students motivated so don’t assume they have understood a lesson. A teacher in any situation should coach to learn so make sure they know they can say that they don’t understand.

The quickest way to lose students is to continue through a course or program without giving them the opportunity to say “Can we repeat that please, I didn’t quite understand”. Motivation is key so let them discuss what they find difficult give them extra work in that area (it will show you care). The most important aspect is that they are enjoying learning with you.
Your class can only move on when your student/s give you honest feedback.

Final thoughts

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So, let’s do a quick analysis of this amazing worldwide language education phenomenon. Flexibility is the most attractive aspect as is the money. On average teachers earn around $17 to $25 a lesson. There are so many opportunities and it’s a growing market for both the teacher and the student.

Research and preparation is the key! If you do your leg work and deliver some great lessons the world is your microphone. As a teacher, you can deliver education to almost anyone around the world which is hugely satisfying and as a student, you have native teachers at the end of an internet connection in a few seconds!

My ultimate final thought is to get that intro video Oscar-worthy! Show the world your personality, your teaching ability with a small glimpse of your talents and your inviting and motivating teaching space!