Interview Gabby Wallace

Gabby Wallace on Teaching Online, Youtube, Podcasts, and Online Courses

In this latest interview, I speak to Gabby Wallace about teaching online.

Gabby has a very successful YouTube channel, co-founded a popular podcast, and has created various online courses for her English learners.

We discuss the above and much more in our interview below. Hope you enjoy it:

What We Discussed

We started off talking about our mastermind group. Now, a mastermind group is where you meet either online or in-person to brainstorm, share your successes and failures, give advice, share resources, and give each other support.

“For me, it’s been really motivating and it’s held me accountable too.”

Like Gabby said, it’s about collaboration, not competition, and we both recommend finding people who have something in common with you if you want to start your own mastermind group.

Gabby has been teaching language for over ten years in many different settings and age groups. About five years ago, she picked up a copy of The Four Hour Work Week, read other entrepreneurial books, and liked the idea of moving online and helping more people.

But before all that, she started making short videos that answered the questions she had in the classroom, and uploaded the videos to YouTube.

There was no business plan at this point, but she started receiving positive feedback, and made more videos. YouTube has now become a focus for her online teaching business (driving people to her website and to continue learning with her).

She was a little self-conscious and worried about putting herself out there at first, but it’s something she has got used to.

Gabby has also had a lot of experience with podcasting and has been very successful in this area. She was the co-founder of All Ears English. It was, and still is, hugely popular. But after a year or so, Gabby started her own podcast and concentrated all her efforts on her own brand.

Before starting the first podcast, Gabby admitted that she had never listened to one before. There were a lot of things that she had to figure out to get things going, but once she had gone through this process once, she knew exactly what to do the second time.

After creating around 100 videos on her YouTube platform, she posted her first course on Udemy. This year, she posted a new course on her own site, which is solely video based. She has a total of six courses with a new one on the way.

Just like Stephen, Gabby listens to her learners and creates her courses based on the feedback she gets.

In the past, Gabby couldn’t get things to work on her own platform, but changing the software she used made a big difference. When creating her courses, Gabby sets a deadline, pre-sells the course, and then gets the material out there.

Gabby’s plans for the future are to continue working on Go Natural English, and also wants to help online teachers become successful online through her blog, Laptop Language Teacher.

Here are some links to her social platforms:

YouTube for GNE
YouTube for LLT
– Her Facebook page

Thanks Gabby for sharing your story with us!

Over to You

Did you enjoy the interview?

Please comment/ask questions on anything we discussed. Gabby and I will respond to any questions you have.

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Pop Culture in Online English Lessons

Utilizing Pop Culture in Online Lessons: Guest Post by Paul Mains

Pop Culture in Online English Lessons

The following is a guest post from Paul Mains…

As any online teacher can tell you, using the Internet to teach English comes with a host of benefits.

You can work from home, giving you the flexibility to choose your own hours. If you so please, you can even continue working while traveling the world, so long as you have a stable Internet connection. And with the vast collection of lesson ideas, tips and tricks, and other useful resources that is available online for free, theres never a shortage of materials to use for online classes.

My favorite aspect of teaching online, however, is that it opens the door for meeting diverse people from different cultures. Indeed, given that your students will be from all over the world, teaching English online gives you the unique opportunity to meet people with different stories, opinions, and life experiences. In this way, online English teachers serve as both linguistic and cultural liaisons for the English-speaking world, a role that is both challenging and extremely rewarding.

A great way to teach students about both language and culture is to incorporate elements from pop culture into lessons. Specifically, Ive found it particularly fruitful to introduce grammar points with clips from popular music and television. And luckily, with the technology available on video platforms like Skype and Zoom, its easy to share these clips with students, even if they cant access YouTube or Netflix on their own computers.

Here are some examples…

Teaching Prepositions of Place with Maroon 5

Maroon Five

The members of Maroon 5. Image: Eva Rinaldi / Wikipedia

As an online teacher, your students will come from all over the world. As such, they will struggle with different grammar points, depending on their native language. Notoriously, Spanish-speaking English learners struggle with the difference between the prepositions inand atwhen talking about location (e.g., Im at the mall in New York), as in Spanish both concepts are expressed with the same preposition, en.

Using a popular, upbeat song is a gentle, entertaining way to introduce this kind of challenging and often frustrating semantic subtlety. For the difference between atand in, I recommend using Payphone by Maroon 5, which is embedded below:

Specifically, the following lyrics illustrate clearly the difference between the two prepositions:

– Still stuck in that time
– When we called it love
– But even the sun sets in paradise
– Im at a payphone, trying to call home
– All of my change I spent on you

With prepositions of place, atis generally used to specify a specific location at the restaurant, at the entrance to the park, at 100 Main Street. Conversely, inis used to indicate a general, imprecise location in the city, in New York, in the ocean. Sure enough, the lyrics to Payphone show this: the singer is at a payphone(a specific location), and laments that the sun sets in paradise(a vague, general place).

In addition to giving students a real-life example of prepositions of place being used in English, this is a great way to pique studentsinterest and open the door to other topics. For instance, after talking about prepositions of place, you can segue your way into prepositions of time, which follow the same pattern of specificity (e.g., at 8:53am vs. in the 1990s).

And if you (and your student) are feeling brave, you can introduce on, which generally falls somewhere between inand atin terms of specificity (e.g., at 8:53am on Friday in January).

Indefinite Articles with Waynes World

Wayne's World

Mike Myers and Dana Carvey, the twoWayne’s World lead actors in Wayne’s World. Image: -alice- / flickr

As I mentioned before, the aspects of English that students find to be difficult will depend on their native language. Whereas Spanish speakers may struggle with pronouns, Mandarin Chinese speakers may struggle with the concept of definite and indefinite articles (i.e., theand a), as Chinese does not contain articles.

One of my favorite ways to introduce the complex topic of articles is to use the following clip from Waynes World, in which Waynes ex-girlfriend gives him a gun rack as a birthday present:

Wayne responds, bewildered:

“A gun rack… a gun rack. I don’t even own *a* gun, let alone many guns that would necessitate an entire rack. What am I gonna do with a gun rack?”

Though the grammar underlying English articles is littered with exceptions, in general, definite articles refer to a specific object or person (e.g., Look at the man over there), whereas indefinite articles refer to any non-specific item in a group (e.g., I want to see a movie).

And in just three sentences, Wayne produces five instances of the indefinite article a. His emphasis on the article when he proclaims, I dont even own a gun!is both humorous and really drives home the essence of the indirect article: Wayne speaking in non-specific terms; he does not own any gun.

You can follow up this scene with several questions that further illustrate the difference between definite and indefinite articles. For instance, you could ask your student if they have ever seen a gun rack before, and if they recognized the gun rack that the woman was holding.

And further, depending on your comfort level with your student, this could potentially open up an interesting cultural discussion about gun ownership. In China, gun ownership is highly regulated by law my student was surprised that owning a gun is both legal and fairly common in certain parts of the United States, which led to an interesting discussion.

Whether teaching prepositions, articles, or anything in between, showing a clip from a song or movie is a great way to ease students into grammatical topics that can otherwise be frustrating or tedious. And with the possibility of screen-sharing on Skype, Zoom, or Google Hangouts, you can share these materials with your students even if their access is limited by their location (my student couldnt view the Waynes World clip, for example, from his computer in Shanghai).

Ultimately, as online English teachers are often tasked with the dual role of linguistic expert and cultural ambassador, sharing clips from pop culture is a great way to teach your students simultaneously about both language and culture.

Paul is an English teacher who gives classes in-person and online in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He writes on behalf of Language Trainers, a language tutoring service offering personalized course packages to individuals and groups. You can check out their free English accent game and other language-learning resources on their website. Feel free to visit their Facebook page or contact paul@languagetrainers.com with any questions.

Over to You

Do you have any resources, lessons plans, or tips for using popular culture in English lessons?

If so, let us know in the comment section below.

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Interview Stephen Mayeaux

Hip Hop, Making Connections, and Online Courses: An Interview With Stephen Mayeaux

In this post, I interview my friend Stephen Mayeaux over at ESLHipHop.com.

Stephen started his blog after his experience teaching an elective course at UC Davis.

His main focus at the university was academic preparation, but in his elective, he was free to do something different. This is when he started using hip hop in the classroom.

In this interview, we go deep with his use of hip hop with his English learners, the feedback he has received on this, how he got started online, and then, we learn about a new course he is creating for a specific niche.

Watch in HD!

Interview Notes and Resources

We start off with how we connected, and briefly talked about the importance of making connections when working online.

I love how he talks about the struggles he had when he first started using hip hop in the classroom. This was mainly due to the cultural differences, and he gave the example about his Japanese students not understanding the social issues of the police in the U.S.

He had his friend help him create his site using WordPress (he is now quite adept with coding). The feedback he received from the lessons he created was really positive, both from teachers and students.

He blasted 100 lessons out in the first year, but has slowed down his output since to about one lesson per month.

Using Hip Hop in English Lessons

If you want to use hip hop in the class, he recommends going back in time to the old school era, for example, The Beastie Boys and MC Hammer. Additionally, he recommends using the hook and the chorus of modern hip hop.

I really wanted to know about the response Stephen has had about using hip hop in the classroom. I love his answer to this: he is focusing on his students and what they can get out of it, and that, haters gonna hate! But generally speaking, he hasn’t received much negativity.

A Course for a Specific Niche

We then moved on to what Stephen is currently doing; he is in Korea at right now working for a local school – we talked about how they are trying to introduce new teaching methods there.

He has a new video course coming out in March in a very specialized niche: OPIC. It’s not a very well known exam, but after seeing that his students were asking for more help in this area, he decided to create something for them.

He is completely engrossed in this process, and is learning new things each day about what creating a course entails. Stephen said something key about how he is creating the materials for his course:

“…Listening to my students, their concerns, and what they really want.”

He is creating the content for his course based on what his learners are asking for.

We then talked about deadlines and the power of setting a specific deadline (his deadline is March 14/15th – he wants you to hold him to this!).

He has hired a freelance marketer to help him with the marketing side of things. I then talked about outsourcing, and specifically, the two types of tasks to outsource: tasks that you are not skilled at and don’t want to learn; and also the mundane and repetitive tasks.

In my case, outsourcing the transcripts for my course helped me in a great way.

We then moved on to social media, and how he uses Facebook and LinkedIn. We focused on using these platforms to make and maintain connections. An example he gave was connecting with Gallery Languages and how they have partnered on many projects.

Here is an example of one of the video’s he mentioned:

Over to You

Have you used hip hop or other music genres in your lessons? Have you thought about creating a course for English learners?

Answer these questions and/or leave any other comments below…

You can connect with Stephen by using the contact form over at ESLHipHop.com. You can also connect with him on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

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teach English online using Zoom

A Review of Zoom.us for Teaching Online Lessons

I was introduced to Zoom a couple of years ago from James Heywood at Off2Class.

I’ve used it myself when I experimented with group lessons in 2014, and I have noticed that more online teachers are using this software to deliver their lessons.

In the video below, I talk about the difference features that you can use with Zoom (including one that works like a whiteboard), and the advantages of using this platform.

Watch in HD:

Video Summary

The dashboard for Zoom is really simple and easy to use. Here is what you can do:

– Start a lesson with or without your video (you can turn your video on and off during the lesson/meeting)
– Schedule a meeting
– Join a meeting

When you schedule a meeting, you can choose to make it recurring. This is a great option to have for learners who take lessons at a set time each week.

You will receive a meeting ID and a link when you schedule a lesson, and this can be shared with your student(s). Additionally, you can automatically add it your online calendar.

Your learner will need to download Zoom to be able to connect with you.

Settings

There are many settings inside Zoom; the vast majority are similar to other video conferencing software (like audio, video etc.).

The recording feature is something I highlighted in the video. You are able to record your lessons automatically to a specified folder.

The Class Experience

Here is what you can do during your lesson with Zoom:

– Chat
– Use video
– Share your screen
– Use annotations while your’re sharing your screen (like a whiteboard)
– Share your computer audio; this is a great feature when playing a video

Zoom is free to use for most uses. The only reason to upgrade is if you are taking group lessons that last over 40 minutes and/or you want to use it for a webinar.

Reasons to Use Zoom

There are many advantages to using Zoom:

– The quality of the call is much better compared to other video conferencing software
– The annotations for screen sharing is very useful
– It is lightweight with no real problems/bugs
– You can create recurring meetings and use the same link for your learners

The one drawback is that it isn’t well known. This means that you will have to educate your learners on how to use it, and they will have to download the application first.

But this can be easily done through a one page PDF or quick video that you can give your learners with instructions on what to do.

Over to You

Have you used Zoom before? If so, is there anything you would like to add?

If you haven’t used Zoom, still comment and let me know if you are thinking about trying it in the future.

WANT TO TEACH ONLINE? START HERE...

If you're curious about online teaching, get my free video series on how you can get started. Click the button and enter your details to get instant access to video 1!

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