get-your-students-speaking

English Lesson Plan: Get Your Students Speaking About Anxiety – by Sam Pealing

Sam Pealing

Sam Pealing

In this guest post, Sam Pealing shares a lesson plan that can reduce anxiety when speaking in English. Take it away, Sam…

We’ve all had students who refuse to speak more than a few words.

But even the most talkative students in class can freeze up when they get outside of class.

This is normally due to a number of factors, such as:

  • Not enough working language
  • Few chances to use English
  • Lack of need to use English
  • Anxiety about using English

The last point on that list is the one that this class focuses on.

As teachers, it’s important for us to create a safe and productive environment for our students. But usually, the environment becomes so safe and secure that the students become too comfortable with the classroom setting.

This results in English learners who are not hardened enough for the outside world. When they are faced with native English speakers, who are equipped with idioms, phrasal verbs, and thick accents, our English students fall apart.

What Can We Do To Help Them?

This is not something that you can completely solve for your students, no matter how much you want to. It requires effort from both you and your students. I’ve recently explored this issue from an English learner’s point of view on my own website (see below).

We can build on our students’ language and understanding of speech, but that’s not always enough.

We also need to help our students to break down their own barriers – the barriers that prevent them from leaving their comfort zones.

That’s where this lesson comes in.

The aim of this lesson is two-fold:

1. To practice using structures for advice: “You should/could”
2. To make students aware of how they can decrease their speaking anxiety.

What Does The Lesson Look Like

The overall lesson can take between 15-40 minutes depending on how many students you have. I have successfully used this activity with groups of four up to 15 students and in one-to-one situations.

Warm up: Choose any warm up activity that gets your students talking.

Transition: Start a small discussion in pair or groups. These questions work well:

  • “What is fluency?”
  • “Why is it difficult to speak English?”

The aim isn’t to get a definite answer, but to get them talking about the issue.

Language Review: Review the language & elicit the kind of language that you use to give advice: “You should + verb” / “You could + verb” is fine. You could also encourage students to give reasons. For example, you should go to bed early, so that you don’t feel tired the next day.

Main Activity: Put your students in groups and give them the ‘query cards’ (explained below). Let them discuss each card, and give advice for each card. They can write down their answers.

At the end of the activity, do a plenary feedback session.

Explanation Of The Task

So, how exactly do you do this task?

The answer is in the ‘query cards’. These are cards with a single ‘barrier’, ‘obstacle’ or opinion on them. Rather than explain them, it’s easier to show you some that I use:

  • Manuel from Spain: “I try to speak English, but I always get shy because I think people will laugh at my pronunciation”
  • Fabio from Italy: “I want to speak in English, but I’m always afraid that I won’t remember the words, so I don’t say very much.”
  • Yumiko from Japan: “I don’t speak to many British people. I don’t speak to them because I don’t think they would be interested in speaking to me.”

As you can probably see, each of these cards has one big issue that can be a discussion point.

The main aim is to get your students discussing solutions and advice for each of the issues on the query cards. In turn, your students will be solving their own problems.

To make the cards, you can survey your students a few classes before this lesson, but you probably already have a few ideas on what holds your students back.

If your students are especially advanced, you can get them to create a three-step plan for each ‘query card’.

Why Does This Work?

Aside from having good practice of using the structure could/should and having good fluency practice, your students will also indirectly discuss their own problems without feeling like they are being targeted.

This is a great way to help them to break down their own speaking barriers which would normally remain untouched.

You can even ask your students to choose one problem/solution that they identify with and follow the advice from it.

Final Words

If your students are at the stage where they should be speaking more outside of class, then this is a great lesson to use. It can indirectly address their own fears of speaking and should help you to facilitate their progress on their English learning journey.

If you use this lesson plan, please let me know how it goes. You can either leave a comment here or contact me through my website.

About Sam Pealing

Sam Pealing is an English language teacher, lecturer, and founder of English For Study, a website for frustrated English learners. If you’re a language teacher who is taking their first steps into online teaching, come and look over Sam’s shoulder as shares his successes and failures in his Building From Scratch newsletter.

Want to Teach English Online?

Get the tools and resources you need to get started.

I will also send you my best tips about how to become a successful online teacher.

Click the button, enter your details, and download it now.

DOWNLOAD NOW >>

Reasons Students Dump Their Teachers

The Three Biggest Reasons Students Dump Their Teachers

Reasons Students Dump Their Teachers

The following is a guest post by Ryan Viguerie. Take it away Ryan…

“So why did you choose me?”

Every student who walks through my door for the first time hears this question.

I’ve been a private teacher for about eight years so I’ve heard a lot of different reasons.

Usually – not always, but usually – it’s because of a problem with their previous teacher.

You see, I’m not the cheapest teacher in Prague.

Which also means I’m usually not their first choice.

But when cheaper doesn’t work out, they come to me, and then I hear their complaints.

And these are the biggest – the ones I hear over and over again.

Learn from other teachers’ mistakes, make your students happy, and keep the cash rolling in.

COMPLAINT #1 – “We just talked”

Students tell me all the time, “I just need to talk more.”

But then they complain about their former teacher and say, “All we did was talk.”

What’s going on?

I think the problem is what they want to do is talk, but what they want to pay for is lessons.

It probably feels weird to describe the highlights of last night’s hockey match, evaluate the physical merits of the new secretary, complain about your lazy kids…and then hand over some cash for what felt like an hour chatting with a friend.

SOLUTION: Show Them The Plan

Before the student has bought any lessons, and we’re talking and having coffee for the first time, I pull out a piece of paper that says “Lesson Structure.”

I explain that this is the structure I follow in my lessons.

It’s nothing fancy or groundbreaking, but it communicates right away “I have a plan. I know what I’m doing. You’re paying for more than just conversation.”

Here’s what it looks like. Feel free to rip it off or adapt it to your style.

Minutes

1-5 warm up – easy conversation

1-5 review vocabulary from previous lessons

30-40 discuss article/video/topic of the day

5-10 record and discuss new vocab

1-3 plan for the next lesson

It’s a balance.

You’ve got to give them what they want, but wrap it in something they feel good paying for.

COMPLAINT #2 – DEAD GRANDMOTHERS

One of my students likes to tell the story of a former teacher who often cancelled lessons at the last minute.

After a while, the teacher began to run out of reasons, so he started to use the dead grandmother excuse.

Then he started to run out of grandmothers. But that didn’t stop him, he just kept going…and so did the dead grandmothers.

Other variations of this guy are the teacher who –

  • Is chronically late
  • Cancels often
  • Shows up hung over
  • Walks into a high-priced law firm wearing ripped jeans and dirty sneakers
  • Sits down and asks, “So what do you want to do today?”
  • Hits on his female students and makes them feel uncomfortable

SOLUTION 1 – Upgrade Your Wardrobe

If you look like a teacher…if you look successful…if you look like you’ve got your life together…it’ll carry a lot of weight.

Be a disheveled poet, rocker, cool guy in your free time. But when it comes time to pay the bills, leave the house in your ironed shirt and expensive shoes.

SOLUTION 2 – Teach From A Base

Being two minutes late is one of my bad habits.

But that suddenly came to a stop when I started teaching from my apartment.

I discovered it’s incredibly hard to be late when you’re already there.

But if you live in a haunted house or your pet iguana doesn’t like meeting new people, you could set up base in a coffee shop. Get an account at calendly.com and mark the same chunks of time every week as ‘available.’ 

COMPLAINT #3: “Neverending Story”

For some reason, my Czech students have taken the title from this 80s fantasy movie (and incredibly cheesy music video) to describe their main frustration with English: slow or no progress.

Here’s a better analogy from “How To Learn A Foreign Language” by Paul Pimsleur:

“Learning a foreign language is like filling a bucket from a slow-running tap. If you keep looking in to see if it is full, you grow more and more impatient. You may finally kick it over and walk away. But if the bucket has notches that show when it is one-quarter full, one-third full, and so on, then you can take pleasure in watching the water rise from notch to notch. The filling time is the same, but the psychological effect is different.”

So how do you put notches on the English bucket?

SOLUTION – A Vocab Notebook

As soon as a student agrees to buy one of my lesson packages, I tell him, “Your first homework assignment is to buy a notebook.”

Then every lesson I make him write down the new words.

Soon he’ll have pages and pages of visible proof of what he didn’t know before he met me.

About Ryan

Ryan is from the US but has lived in Prague since 2004.

In addition to teaching, he also runs the website Teacher-Creature.com

If you think there’s a need for a similar site in your city and if you’d like to be one of the first teachers on the site, you can write Ryan at office@teacher-creature.com.

Want to Teach English Online?

Get the tools and resources you need to get started.

I will also send you my best tips about how to become a successful online teacher.

Click the button, enter your details, and download it now.

DOWNLOAD NOW >>

Shanthi Guest Post

How To Get New Students through Blogging

Note: the following is a guest post by Shanthi Cumaraswamy Streat…

As online teachers, you are already used to the online world and all that it entails. So, the world of blogging is not going to necessarily be alien to you. Some of you may already be edubloggers, while some of you may be contemplating starting.

In this post, I want to show you why I think blogging is an excellent way of reaching out to learners and acquiring new clients by sharing my blogging experience with you. I also want to show you how to go about starting your blog and engaging your readers.

There are many reasons why teachers blog. So, the first thing you need to do is to:

Ask yourself three questions

Why do I want to blog?

  • Do you want to use your blog as a marketing tool?
  • Do you want to use your blog as a way to develop professionally?
  • Are you looking to create a Personal Learning Network (PLN)?
  • Do you want to share teaching ideas through your blog?
  • Do you want to acquire more clients through it?
  • Do you want to help learners improve their English?

My experience: I started my blog in 2013 with the primary goal of creating and developing my digital footprint as an independent teacher. I needed to acquire new clients, but how was I going to get new clients if they didn’t know anything about me? The only way I could build a reputation of trust and professionalism online was by creating good-quality content for learners. Blogging was the easiest and cheapest way for me to do that.

What do I want to blog about?

  • Do you want to blog about teaching ideas, share lesson plans?
  • Do you want to share learning tips with learners?
  • Do you want to set yourself up as an expert in one skill set like grammar, writing or as a generalist?

In my case: I wanted to write about anything and everything to do with the English Language and English Literature. That could be random musings, my teaching experiences, topical issues and so on.

Who is my audience going to be?

  • Teachers or learners?
  • If learners, adults or teenagers? What levels – all or targeted? Business people?

Me: I decided to focus solely on adult learners both for Business and General English but not exam preparation.

Creating the template

You’ve got the above three questions answered and now it’s time to create the template. Let’s assume you’ve decided your audience is going to be learners. You need to engage your readers whose L1 is not English.

Put yourself in your readers’ shoes: Just as we tell our learners to think of their audience when presenting we need to keep our readers at the forefront of our minds when we write. So,

  • keep your posts brief – long posts are off-putting especially for learners
  • think visually – use pictures, good spacing, colour-code vocabulary and explain what the colours refer to (blue – collocation chunks; red – phrasal verbs)
  • keep your explanations short and simple- if you don’t understand them, no one else will!
  • use plenty of examples that are easy to understand and visually clear especially grammar posts

Variety is the spice of life

Write about a variety of topics such as grammar, literature, listening skills, idioms, learning tips, current events, topical issues – basically anything and everything, well almost everything! You might want to steer away from PARSNIPS.

Variety makes your posts and, therefore, your blog more engaging and interesting.

Language is everywhere

So make sure you show your learners where to find it. It could be in jokes, films, videos, a caption, while out shopping, jogging, at the gym.

Think of a topic and explore the language that emanates from it. It could be while you’re doing your tax return and think of sharing vocabulary related to taxes or you’re at the hairdressers’ and decide to share that experience and vocabulary with your readers.

Use a conversational style with your readers so they can experience how the language flows seamlessly.

Make it real; make it resonate.

Share your personal experiences; by doing so you allow your readers to see the real you. I often share my experiences, sometimes painful, with my readers. I use those experiences to highlight language relevant to the topic. For example, I wrote about my father-in-law’s funeral and with that post I shared the vocabulary related to funerals and bereavement. I received comments of condolences from my readers and also thanks for sharing language that is not normally taught in ELT.

Write about real issues. This follows on from the previous point. Learners need this language whether it’s about gardening, tax returns, ethical shopping, books. I tend to avoid politics, religion and sex but I am more than happy to talk about gender equality and human rights. These issues are not found in coursebooks so it’s your chance to be different.

Share your students with your readers

Teaching experiences or a recent lesson make great post subjects. Blog post ideas often get formed while I am teaching a student. For example, I was working on interview skills recently with a client and that prompted me to share our lesson with my readers. It was a huge success (it was even shortlisted for the Teaching English British Council Blog Post Award for October 2015).

Teaching anecdotes, in other words, stories that come out of a lesson can be a great source of inspiration.

Your students’ ideas could be another excellent source. I had one student who told me that she learned a lot from watching Jamie Oliver’s videos and shared what it is she liked about the chef. This triggered a series of three posts on cooking, food preparation and dining.

And finally…..

  • Be yourself – let your personality shine through. Your readers want to find the real person behind your words
  • Engage your readers with humour through words and pictures
  • Let your blog help you discover your creativity, make you a better teacher and reach out to learners everywhere.

I hope these tips are helpful. Thank you for reading and happy blogging!

About Shanthi

Shanthi Cumaraswamy StreatA freelance teacher and blogger, I teach Business and General English to adults online and offline through full immersion courses in the UK and Business English workshops abroad. I use my blog, English with a Twist, to reach out to learners and teachers.

www.englishwithatwist.com

Over to You

What blogging tips can you share?

Leave your comments below!

Want to Teach English Online?

Get the tools and resources you need to get started.

I will also send you my best tips about how to become a successful online teacher.

Click the button, enter your details, and download it now.

DOWNLOAD NOW >>

Chris Rush Guest Post

Five Ways to Use LinkedIn to Get New Students for Your Tutoring Business

The following is a guest post by Chris Rush. He is a fellow online teacher and TEOC member. Take it away, Chris…

When I first started teaching online, I was bursting with excitement.  I was ready to build a website, create a business, and make a huge difference in the world, all by working from home.  It seemed too good to be true!  There was just one teeny tiny obstacle in the way:

I didn’t have any students.

At first I started freelancing, which allowed me to build some online experience (and which I still recommend for those just starting out), but I wasn’t teaching my own students.  I was a contracted teacher, and as such, I was teaching at strange hours and earning only a fraction of what learners were paying for their lessons.  I tried posting my profile on a few of the ‘find an English teacher’ websites, both the free and the paid ones, but it just seemed like a crowd of teachers offering lower and lower prices in an attempt to compete for students.  

After a lot of time and frustration, it got me a grand total of zero lessons. My luck wasn’t any better on social media either.  Sure, buying some Facebook ads to get people to download my free ebook was growing my email list, but it wasn’t actually leading to clients.  My excitement was long gone.  I had a dream of making an impact in the world, but I was making hardly any difference at all.

Then I launched a LinkedIn strategy.  And everything changed.

LinkedIn, it seems to me, is amazingly undervalued in social media strategy.  It has 100 million members all over the world, and people who use LinkedIn are professionals who are often in a position to, primarily, need English and, secondly, have the ability to pay for quality lessons.  I’ve had much lower instances of people asking for free help (and in turn getting negative with me if I refuse) since switching my primary marketing efforts to LinkedIn.  I’m going to share with you the five best ways to get students using LinkedIn. Using these strategies has generated for me thousands of times the return on my time investment more than any other social media platform.

Before we get into the strategies, I offer you a disclaimer and a prerequisite.  First the disclaimer:  Nobody likes a spammer.  I’m going to talk about how to grow your LinkedIn network (and, therefore, your base of possible students), and your first point of contact with a connection should never be a sales pitch.  Not only is it sleazy, it’s against LinkedIn policy.  People buy from those whom they know, like, and trust, and it takes time to build a relationship.  Trust me, it’s worth it.  Secondly, the prerequisite:  to use these strategies properly, you must know your niche — the type of learner you’re targeting, and the key is to be as specific as possible.  I’ve seen English teachers resist this because they feel like it somehow limits their base of potential students, but marketing messages that are highly targeted are always more successful than ones that are broad.  So let’s get started!

1. Cater your Profile to Potential Students

Many people use their LinkedIn profiles as online resumes, and that’s great — if you’re looking for a job!  However, a profile optimized to show your work history is definitely not the same as one that’s designed to attract English learners, and you need to create your profile with that in mind.  Your personal headline is a great place to start.  For most people, it just has their job title, but this is usually the first thing that a potential client sees after your name and photo.  It should be simple and results oriented.  Mine is “Coaching Business English Online to Give you more Opportunities in Business and Life.”  It says what I do, and it promises a result for you if you hire me.

A profile hack that very few people take advantage of is creating call to action links right on your profile using the “Projects” section.  For me, one of my projects is my free sample session (and by the way, never refer to it as a “free sample session,”  because that doesn’t appeal to anyone).  Instead, make it into an irresistible offer.  My ‘free sample session’ is actually a link to “Schedule a Free Personalized English Action Plan, a one-on-one session where we make a step-by-step plan to improve your English in the next six months!”  When someone clicks on it, it takes them right to my free (and highly recommended) booking system, Calendly.  It takes an interested prospect about 15 seconds to book a session with me, and it integrates with Google Calendar so I’m guaranteed to be available.  And because you can drag sections of your LinkedIn profile around, this link is right at the top.  

2. Grow your Network

Having an optimized profile, unfortunately, won’t do much good if nobody sees it.  In order to get people to see your profile, you need a large network, and that means joining groups (strategy 4), and sending connection requests.  This is where having a well-defined niche comes in.  Have an idea of the type of people you want to target, and then search for them.  See what works (who signs up for your sample lesson) and adjust accordingly.  I search for people with one specific job title in one specific country (remember when I said to be as specific as possible)?  

Sending the connection request is another place where people make mistakes.  When sending connection requests, almost everyone uses the standard “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”  How impersonal!  This is your first point of contact with a possible student, and a little effort goes a long way.  It only takes a minute to write a sentence, use their name, and mention that you’d like to connect to them (do not try to sell them anything).  Sometimes, though, you can get lucky and the person will want to buy from you immediately.  I’ve gone to bed after sending out a big batch of connection requests and gotten up the next morning to see sample sessions on my calendar — it’s like Christmas!

3. Publish!

‘Internet Marketing 101’ has long advised that you use social media to drive traffic to your website.  Well, LinkedIn’s publishing platform is turning that on its head, and giving new writers immediate access to an audience of millions.  If you’ve got an optimized profile and grown your network to (at least) several hundred prospects, it’s time to start publishing. Every time you write a post, it notifies everyone in your network, and your posts stay at the top of your profile where they’re immediately accessible to your connections.

 It’s an amazing way (perhaps the best way) for you to distinguish yourself as a leader in your field.  Being recognized as a thought leader is when the real revolution happens because that’s when 1: You don’t have to chase clients anymore — they come to YOU, and 2: they will happily pay you a premium price.  My initial break happened because a CEO (that doesn’t read business English blogs) saw my third ever post and contacted me the next day asking for 500 English lessons for his employees, and paid the price I asked!

4. Join Groups

You should join as many  groups as you can.  The limit used to be 50, but now it’s even higher since LinkedIn recently changed how subgroups work.  Joining groups helps grow your network (since every member of the group is added to your network) and it allows you to build trust.  Instead of joining groups full of other English teachers, you should join groups full of your prospects.  This is where both the disclaimer and the prerequisite come into play.  You need to know your niche to find the right groups, and then once you join them, you should never post about English lessons.  

People will see very clearly that you’re an English teacher — there’s no need to remind them. Instead, focus your efforts on offering helpful and relevant content specific to their field or industry.  Set up a google alert and RSS aggregator for keywords related to the industry of the group, and every day you’ll have a list of potentially helpful articles from across the internet to share.  Offering value in this way can build an incredible amount of trust and goodwill, and you can be sure that when someone in the group needs English lessons, they’ll come to you.

5. Share ‘top of mind’ Content

In addition to the publishing platform, LinkedIn also has a Facebook-like ‘news feed’ where you can post status updates, photos, videos, articles, and links.  You should take advantage of this strategy to share relevant information that’s perhaps not important enough to become a published post.  This is where you can express some of your personality, as long as you make sure your updates are professional and not overly promotional.  Very few people buy on the first contact.  It usually takes many repeated points of contact, and you want to make sure that when they think of English lessons they immediately think of you. 

Chris RushLinkedIn helped me go from a struggling freelancer to a successful Business English Coach, and it’s already helping me take the next step in my success. 

Chris Rush is an Online Business English Coach.  Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Want More?

Chris goes into this strategy in-depth in our exclusive 25-minute interview inside TEOC. In addition to getting this method in full, you will also get access to the 101 video lessons, resources, worksheets, bonus tutorials, and community. Sound good?

Click here to learn more and to sign up.

Want to Teach English Online?

Get the tools and resources you need to get started.

I will also send you my best tips about how to become a successful online teacher.

Click the button, enter your details, and download it now.

DOWNLOAD NOW >>

Rob Howard Guest Post

How to Deal with Learners who Want Everything for Free

The following is a guest post from Rob Howard. Take it away, Rob…

How many of you have ever been introduced as an English teacher at a party and the first response is “Can you help me?” This is nothing new. Doctors are always asked to look at a strange lump. Lawyers are always asked for free advice. Nothing new here. But now, you have moved to or are planning to move online. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

As soon as you start advertising, if you are lucky enough to get visible amongst the myriad of online English teachers, you will open the floodgates to every Tom, Dick and Harry that has an internet connection looking for something for free. My advice, get ready for it.

The Questions

Everybody wants something for free. You would not believe the numbers of people out there that think we are saints and are just here on this Earth to provide free services to them because they have taken the time to contact you. I am messaged on Facebook, contacted through SKYPE, asked through LinkedIn, get emails through my website and at least once per month, I get a phone call through WhatsApp, Facebook or SKYPE. Here are some of the questions I get:

“How is my English?”

“Can you tell me what my level is?”

“Is this right?”

“What does this word mean?”

“How do you translate this word to English?”

“Can you translate this paragraph for me?”

“Will you write my CV for me?”

“Which one of these five sentences is the best and why?”

“Can you write my essay so I can win this contest?”

“Can you tell me how to do well on the TOEFL/IELTS exam?”

“Can you rewrite my Master’s thesis for me?”

“I know you will help me improve by talking with me all the time.”

“Will you just practice with me a little every day?”

“It will only take you a minute.”

“Can you explain the difference between the present perfect and the past perfect?”

“Can you give me hints to get more fluent?”

“Can you give me materials to get better?”

“Can you send me all the grammar differences between British and American English for my Master’s thesis?”

“But you’re a teacher!”

The last is my favorite. I don’t remember taking some type of “Hippocratic oath” stating that it is my duty as a teacher to let no student go untaught… for free. But they think we have. I don’t know of any other profession where people are so adamant about their right to call us at 3:00 am to ask for help. Well, one other. I was married to a doctor. But at least those calls came from paying patients.

How will you respond to this without making an enemy? Remember, what social networking has given you, social networking can easily take away. These people are your market. They are your “likes”, your “sharers” and your “commenters”. The best marketing is word of mouth, or in this case, word of Facebook. You need them. Maybe more than they need you.

The Response

There are so many to choose from and so many you want to say. Here is where your inner conscience needs to kick in. Of course, there is “no.” Plain, simple, to the point. Good luck making friends with that one. There is “I’m too busy.” They keep coming back. You can try “I don’t work for free.” They will whine about how they are from the third world and support a family and can’t afford to pay. Then I whine and say so am I (I’m currently in Brazil) and tell them that I work to support my family too so I can’t work for free. This starts a debate that almost never ends, or ends well.

My favorite, which I used at 3:00 am after being awoken by a sweet girl from the Far East, “Ok, while I’m doing that, you can come over and clean my house for free as I can’t afford a maid.” She unfriended me. I still feel badly about that, but it worked and yes, it felt good at the time.

The Solution

The best solution of all? I started a Facebook group, “ENGLISH STUDENTS.” It’s a place for students to post questions and for teachers to post their blogs and tips and sometimes, answers. When people ask for help, I refer them there. They join, they like, they share, they comment, they help each other and best of all, they don’t ask again. Some have since sent me paying customers.

Many have helped spread the word. An ex-student of mine in the group started a WhatsApp group on the side so they could talk and practice with each other. Problem solved. This is by far the most logical, sane and productive solution. Feel free to send needy students to the group.

Social Responsibility

Now I’m not completely heartless. I try to always have one or two students that I teach for free. The two students I am currently working with don’t have the means and are really working hard to improve their lives. I am proud to be a small part of that. Some of my past free students have gone on to get jobs as a result of their English. One was hired at an international oil company as a receptionist, another at the second largest TV network in Brazil as a producer. Others have received promotions due to their ability to interact with foreign clients.

This is how I give back and I wholeheartedly recommend that every teacher in the world take on at least one student for free. I do feel that it is our duty as humans to give back to society, even in some small way, and it warms the heart to be a part of someone else’s success.

It makes saying “No” that much sweeter too.

__________________________________________________________________

Rob Howard is the owner of Online Language Center, a live online course for C1/C2 level students.  He is a teacher, tutor, trainer, material designer and writer for ESL/EFL. He is also a consultant and has been a frequent speaker internationally regarding online retention as well as using technology in and out of the classroom. He is also the founder of EFLtalks utilizing social media to build a worldwide PLN for new and future language teachers.

You can reach Rob at rob@onlinelanguagecenter.com

Please join us on Facebook at ENGLISH STUDENTS

For more free advice from other education professionals, including Jack, check out EFLtalks.com.

Want to Teach English Online?

Get the tools and resources you need to get started.

I will also send you my best tips about how to become a successful online teacher.

Click the button, enter your details, and download it now.

DOWNLOAD NOW >>

Advantages and Challenges Teaching Online

The Advantages and Challenges of Teaching Online

The following is a guest post by Elena Mutonono. You can find out more about Elena at the bottom of the post. Take it away Elena…

This weekend my almost-three-year-old son had his first language lesson … online. My son is growing up bilingual in a largely monolingual country. He goes to an American pre-school, talks to the majority of our friends in English, knows the entire English alphabet already and is learning to read… in English.

Since my mother tongue is Russian, I decided early on that I would talk to him in Russian only so he becomes fluent in both languages. As he is getting older though I’m realizing the challenge of keeping him bilingual and finding a face-to-face professional teacher who wouldn’t mind driving across the town to work with him for 30 minutes.

That prompted me to begin looking online. Being an online teacher myself I realize how insanely hard it is to teach teenagers online, not to mention kids! But I decided to send out my request to several teachers, and received two brave positive responses. We ended up going with one of them.

The lesson turned out to be so much more than I expected: my son was engaged, enjoyed meeting a new teacher and talking to him in Russian, showed all of his toys to him and even learned some letters of the Russian alphabet. Obviously, there were a number of limitations to such an online teaching experience, especially for a two-year-old, but in my case there was no other choice. The teacher did an excellent job, and he is definitely hired.

Diving into the Online Teaching Environment

I began teaching online in 2008 when a good friend from my hometown (about 70 km away) asked me to help her with pronunciation and fluency training. It was a similar situation where we had no other choice. I couldn’t be driving to my hometown every week, nor could she come all the way to see me for lessons.

So she installed skype, and we thought we’d give it a try. It worked. She began learning online and really enjoying the additional bonuses of such format: she was saving a lot of time and could have her lessons directly at her work place at the end of her working day. 

After a few years, I was laid off, and so again I had no other choice but to begin growing my online clientele. At the time I only knew one-to-one teaching via skype, but I would soon learn many more formats and become an expert in the business aspect of online teaching – something I’d never imagined myself doing.

The Similarities with Face-To-Face Teaching

Teaching may take different formats, but the essence of it still remains the same. According to the dictionary (dictionary.com), teaching means imparting knowledge or skill, or causing somebody to develop a set of skills or knowledge.

No matter where, what, who and how we teach, our goal is never the method for the sake of the method, it’s always imparting the knowledge and developing skills using whatever method appropriate for a specific age group and available at a specific time.

As experienced teachers, we know that there is a difference between teaching a child, a teenager, a College student, an adult or a senior. There are challenges and there are advantages. And certainly there is our own preference factor. But no matter how, our intention is always on helping the student achieve his/her results.

Online Teaching: Most Common Fears

When teachers consider switching to working online, there’s a series of questions that they keep asking themselves, and those questions are usually prompted by, what we will call, the fears of the unknown:

What if my Internet is down?

This certainly does happen, but it doesn’t make online teaching less reliable that way. Think of the times when you taught regular classes and you weren’t feeling too well, so you had to call in sick for fear of contaminating disease. When you teach online minor colds or temporary sickness/disability will not always keep you away from the classroom. Interestingly, colds happen more often than the Internet/power outages.

What if Skype doesn’t work?

In my 5 years of online teaching I only remember 3 epic skype outages. The first two made me panic. The last one was a breeze because by then I had a back-up plan (Google Hangouts) and was able to use it quite successfully.

What if a Student misses his/her class?

There are different ways of getting in touch with your students, and with the rise of portable devices, and phone-based internet services, my students can send me a quick text message if they are stuck in traffic or if there’s an emergency. Also, after a few months of teaching I knew I had to come up with specific terms and conditions so students wouldn’t “get used” to canceling their lessons all the time.

Today when a student signs up with me, he/she gets a document with terms and conditions, and he has to abide by them, and that means that no skipping-lesson excuse except for emergencies listed in the contract is considered valid. So the so-called no-shows are very rare.

How can I talk to a student whose mother tongue is different from the target language?

This one may sound like it’s tricky, but it isn’t for seasoned language teachers. If you know the mother tongue of your students you’ll be able to teach them from the beginner level. If not, you’ll just be there to help them develop their fluency.

Do I use ____________ (camera/headphones/microphone/iPad/iPhone, etc.)?

You can use all of the above, or very few of the above (just a headset and your computer). It depends on what you’re comfortable with and what your student can work with.

How do I teach a lesson?

The most common mistake is to think that once you begin your online teaching career there’s a set of many tools that you will need to learn how to use. It is true that over time your knowledge will most likely go beyond the use of Skype and Google, but you don’t need to know it all before you start.

My advice to beginning online teachers is to be as simple as you can: call via skype, use the chat window as your board and turn on the camera if you want your student to see the props that you have put together for the class. You can email the worksheets and the homework assignment prior to the lesson and use the relevant tools to make this process a simple one.

Most of these fear-based questions have to do with the technicalities, but they have nothing to do with the teaching itself. If you know how to teach, all you need to do is learn a bit about the basic online tools available for online teaching, and begin using them.

In What Ways is Online Teaching Superior to Teaching Face-to-Face?

Though there are some limitations to the online learning environment, I can think of at least 5 ways in which online language learning, for instance, can be superior to a classroom lesson. Naturally I’m biased, but I think that a lot of teachers are so put off by the fears and the slight learning curve involved that they forget about the generous benefits of online teaching.

Greater focus on listening comprehension skills. If you’re an online language teacher, working online with video camera off will prompt your students to be more alert and attentive, and thus develop their listening skills much faster than in a traditional classroom environment where listening is aided by other types of communication.

Greater focus on learning. In a traditional classroom, there are lots of distractions that may take away your student’s attention and then will take time to bring it back. It’s more difficult to do so online when a student is working on a task, talking or writing.

Wider range of materials, easily accessible on all devices. Having taught online for 5 years, I find traditional classroom somewhat limiting when it comes to retrieving information and accessing a wider range of assignments within seconds. There are plenty of resources on the internet, and that makes your materials more versatile and customized.

Better quality student support. Being online means you are more available than in the classroom and/or during your office hours. You will obviously have to develop some guidelines so you’re not writing/responding to emails non-stop, but better support means better results.

The time saving and comfort factor. There is no commuting involved into online teaching. It’s comfortable, convenient and easy for everybody involved. That increases the happiness factor, which makes the environment more conducive to teaching and learning.

The Challenges of Online Teaching

There are several big challenges to online teaching as well, but it doesn’t mean that they cannot be overcome. With the right training and basic marketing skills, you will be able to tackle those as well. Here are just the top two that I mostly write about when I participate in forums.

  • Finding and retaining new students.
  • Developing your own brand.

One of the best answers to these two issues is writing content. Content will bring people to your website, content will answer your readers’ questions, and content will prompt them to book your services rather than anybody else’s. Creating content takes time and practice, but as you keep looking and trying different means of conveying your unique message, you will find your voice that will speak and win the heart of your future customers.

I hope that this article has inspired you to test out the waters of online teaching and enjoy the pleasure that comes when you move your expertise beyond the walls of a traditional classroom and impact the lives of people all over the world.

More about Elena:

Elena Mutonono transforms traditional teachers into online teacherpreneurs. Visit www.elenamutonono.com for details and deals.

Want to become an independent teacher who is in control of their income and their teaching? Join TEOC today!

Want to Teach English Online?

Get the tools and resources you need to get started.

I will also send you my best tips about how to become a successful online teacher.

Click the button, enter your details, and download it now.

DOWNLOAD NOW >>

How to Teach Phrasal Verbs

How to Teach Phrasal Verbs by James Heywood

This is a guest post from James Heywood at Off2Class. Take it away James…

Teaching phrasal verbs is an inevitable step as students gain proficiency and aim for a more natural speaking style. Native speakers use phrasal verbs frequently and it is likely that your students will have already asked about the meaning of common phrasal verbs, such as get out, fall off and break down, even before you make them a specific lesson topic.

The challenge with phrasal verbs is that it is often just as challenging for the teacher as for the student… Today I’m going to lay out the general attack plan I use to tackle phrasal verbs with my own students.

Disclaimer #1: I focus on teaching one-on-one lessons online and have developed a set of my own phrasal verbs resources that I use to teach online, though most of my strategy (and resources) can be adapted for an in-person or group teaching approach.

Disclaimer #2: Teaching your student phrasal verbs is not a skill that you can cover in one lesson! You’ll need a series of sessions with your student before they feel comfortable weaving even basic phrasal verbs into their everyday speech. We suggest introducing one grammar concept at a time then return regularly to lessons focused on phrasal verbs.

Disclaimer #3: You must introduce the necessary grammar with your students so that they can make sense of constructions. Many teachers feel awkward answering students’ questions about phrasal verbs, and it’s generally because many teachers do not possess the knowledge of the grammar to answer the question.

Additionally, teachers don’t agree on the grammatical terminology (I actually prefer multiword verbs to phrasal verbs but I won’t get into that here). Whatever you call this area of grammar, just be sure to know your terminology. You need to pick a set of resources that you are comfortable with and stick with it!

Without covering some grammar you will have difficulty eventually explaining that these sentences are correct:

– I completed my assignment and handed it in on time.
– The policeman let him off.
– The children picked on me.

While the following are incorrect:

– I completed my assignment and handed in it on time.
– The policeman let off him.*
– The children picked me on.

My Approach to Teaching Phrasal Verbs

First, multiword verbs can belong to three main groups:

  • Phrasal Verbs – verb + particle

look up, call off, run into, take off

  • Prepositional Verbs – verb + preposition

decide on, apply for, stand for, depend on

  • Prepositional Phrasal Verbs – verb + particle + preposition

put up with, look forward to, run up against

A particle is not an adverb or a preposition, but yet, has the same form!

I prefer the grammar terms used by Cowan in ‘The Teacher’s Grammar of English’, which define groups such as:

Transitive or intransitive (transitive phrasal verbs require a direct object intransitive do not)

Transitive Phrasal Verbs

Separable Transitive Phrasal Verbs
Separable or inseparable (for separable phrasal verbs, the direct object can come between the verb and the particle)

Separable and inseparable phrasal verbs

At times, the grammar can feel a little intense!

I like to introduce one grammatical concept to a student at a time, such as the properties of separable transitive phrasal verbs, and introduce some common phrasal verbs definitions and examples in context. We then take a break from the topic, and come back to attack the next section of grammar and common phrasal verbs definitions and examples.

At Off2Class, in addition to covering all the grammar, you’ll find 19 phrasal verbs lessons that contain no grammar at all – they introduce common phrasal verbs and provide examples and context for each verb introduced:

Back Down Phrasal Verb

Teaching Phrasal Verbs

A note on dictionaries: A good dictionary is vital to understand and use phrasal verbs for your students. This can be either an online resource or a regular hardcopy dictionary.

Phrasal Verbs in Dictionaries

So as a summary: You must introduce grammatical terminology to allow a student to reach high proficiency with phrasal verbs. However, go slowly. Introduce the grammatical properties one at a time, and then introduce a number of common phrasal verbs that possess the property. Move from controlled to free activities slowly. And most importantly, return again and again to the previous grammatical terms and properties covered.

*In no time at all your student will understand that let someone off is a permanently separated transitive phrasal verb!

Phrasal Verb Webinar

ARVE Error: id and provider shortcodes attributes are mandatory for old shortcodes. It is recommended to switch to new shortcodes that need only url

About the Author

James is an online ESL teacher and co-founder of Off2Class. He has a background in language and linguistics and has logged over 4500 hours of online ESL tutoring in the last 3 years. You can read more about him here. He is head of content creation at Off2Class and has recently released our Phrasal Verbs category, which includes 32 lessons designed to get you teaching Phrasal Verbs to your ESL students.

Want to Teach English Online?

Get the tools and resources you need to get started.

I will also send you my best tips about how to become a successful online teacher.

Click the button, enter your details, and download it now.

DOWNLOAD NOW >>

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.

Want to Teach English Online?

Get the tools and resources you need to get started.

I will also send you my best tips about how to become a successful online teacher.

Click the button, enter your details, and download it now.

DOWNLOAD NOW >>

Tips and Resources for Planning Online

19 Successful Online English Teachers Share Their Tips and Resources for Planning Online Lessons

Tips and Resources for Planning Online

Thanks to everyone who contributed!

I receive A LOT of emails from online teachers (and online teachers to be) about planning; namely, what they should include in their lessons and what resources they should use.

As there are many areas of English and different teaching methods, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. What I do and what I use might not work for you and your learners.

However, there are some common practices and amazing resources that you can use in your online lessons.

And as a way of celebrating the incredible teachers who create their own content so that we can use it with our students, I have put together this super post.

I asked 19 online teachers for a tip or an app when it comes to lesson planning, and for them to share their resource.

As well as being a handy guide for you, this might also inspire you too to create content for your learners (if you’re not doing this already).

Real quick before you look at the resources…

… if you would like to create your own online teaching business (like many of the people below have), then get my mini-tutorial series here:

how-to-teach-engish-online

GET IT FOR FREE HERE

(At the bottom of the post there is a chance for you to add your own resources.)

Gabby Wallace

Gabby Wallace

TIP FOR PLANNING ONLINE (OR A TOOL TO USE):

Make sure that each lesson has a clear takeaway. Make sure that the viewer can understand what he or she is going to be able to do by the end of the lesson.

WHAT’S YOUR RESOURCE?
The All Ears English Podcast is an engaging way for your students to learn real English and connect with native speakers online. Free episodes can be used as a tool for language learning and discussion: www.AllEarsEnglish.com
The Go Natural English Video Lessons are a quick and easy way to learn English skills and build vocabulary from anywhere. Free video lessons can be used as a convenient tool for answering students’ common questions: www.GoNaturalEnglish.com

Kieran Docherty

Kieran Docherty (cropped)

TIP FOR PLANNING ONLINE (OR A TOOL TO USE):

As my area of expertise is film in language teaching and all of my lesson plans are designed around short films, I’m going to explain a little bit about Vimeo which is a tool I use when planning nearly all of my materials. Vimeo is a video sharing site where users upload and share their short films and videos, very much like You Tube.

There are a number of reasons why I prefer Vimeo to YouTube: it’s a small niche community of film-makers which means that the quality of the short films is much better and more artistic than those on YouTube and that it’s much easier to find quality content (there are no cat videos); the layout is much cleaner than You Tube and it’s much more user-friendly and intuitive; there are no distracting ads so the primary focus is on the short film and nothing else; and finally the comments are nearly always constructive, you don’t get the inane comments and insults that appear under many YouTube videos.

WHAT’S YOUR RESOURCE?
http://film-english.com/
Film English is the first ELT resource site to use short films critically and creatively and to promote film literacy – the ability to analyse and interpret moving images – in the language classroom. It is an award-winning, highly practical resource bank with over 120 detailed and ready-made lesson plans for the busy teacher, which is user- friendly, intuitive, colourful, fun and meticulously organised.

All of the lessons are categorised according to age appropriateness, level and topic. All of the short films and worksheets are embedded right into the lesson, meaning that teachers don’t need to download videos or worksheets; they can show the entire lesson through a data projector. However, if teachers prefer, they can download the lesson instructions and worksheets in PDF format.

Mau Buchler

Mau Buchler

TIP FOR PLANNING ONLINE (OR A TOOL TO USE):

Prepping classes online doesn’t have to be arduous or time-consuming. If you begin by asking them simple questions (as you would in a normal conversation), that allows you to see where they are making mistakes. You then correct what they’re doing wrong, and get THEM to come up with different ways of practicing it.

Nevertheless, make sure you have something fun up your sleeve, just in case. A funny video, a short story, or an activity that you can use as back up, but most of the time you probably won’t even use it.

WHAT’S YOUR RESOURCE?

I created www.tripppin.com to be the perfect resource. It can be used every day as regular course material, but it can also be used to supplement other existing ESL materials. All teachers need to do is use it once in a while in class, and it takes on a life of its own. Students use it in their free time, and the platform directs them to bring their doubts and discoveries back into the classroom/course. The teacher truly becomes the supervisor of the students’ learning process.

Sylvia Guinan

Sylvia Guinan

TIP FOR PLANNING ONLINE (OR A TOOL TO USE):

For creating digital content it’s best to use a lot of imagery as too much text doesn’t translate well to the screen. Materials need to be attractive and brain-friendly. You can add links to further text-based resources so that students can follow-up on the extra detail.

In keeping with attractive design, it’s great to store lesson content and especially multi-media links on Tackk or PearlTrees. This way, students can click into a beautiful visual library full of easy to access multi-media, goodies, ebooks etc.

Additionally, have Google Drive and all the cool Google tools attached as a home base for lessons and content – and then link Google Drive to your visual library. Back-up everything if you are using the cloud.

WHAT’S YOUR RESOURCE?

My personal blog is described as “Brainfriendly learning methods, tools, environments and communities.” You can learn from my blog which has reviews, interviews, lesson plan ideas, educational technolgy ideas, creativity, webinar coverage, professional development and all kinds of educational issues.

I also have a webinar tab where you can access my webinar recordings.

http://www.sylviasenglishonline.org/

Drew Badger

Drew Badger

TIP FOR PLANNING ONLINE (OR A TOOL TO USE):

Every lesson should be a solution to a problem, so begin with the needs of learners. Keep things simple and you can’t go wrong.

WHAT’S YOUR RESOURCE?

My YouTube channel features over 200 simple video lessons for all levels. Everything is taught in English, so lessons can be used with students in any country. If you’re looking for videos that make the language intuitive, so students can understand and learn to use English without the need for forgettable rules or confusing explanations, visit http://www.youtube.com/englishanyone.

Vickie Hollet

Vickie Hollet

TIP FOR PLANNING ONLINE (OR A TOOL TO USE):

Make your students your resource by asking them to pick a topic and lead a discussion. You can give them ideas. E.g. a news story they’re following, a website they find useful for learning English (and why), the pros and cons of a (controversial) topic or idea, a talk on how to…(they choose something they can teach). You want to enthuse and inspire, but let them take control. The results can be magic.

WHAT’S YOUR RESOURCE?

(Sample activity from Vickie’s site): Watch one of the short videos on a false friend students find tricky at http://www.simpleenglishvideos.com/vocabulary/. (E.g make vs. do, sensible vs. sensitive, lend vs. borrow) Then pick another pair of words they often confuse and get them to teach the difference. They can use PowerPoints or make a video – whatever they wish, but when students become teachers, they can learn a lot.

www.simpleenglishvideos.com

Minoo Short

Minoo

TIP FOR PLANNING ONLINE (OR A TOOL TO USE):

(If recording lessons for groups) A tip that I have that I think is important in planning online group lessons (MOOC) is: Remember that some of the students will not be able attend the live session and will only watch the recording.  Therefore the lesson should be planned in a way that it remains engaging for anyone watching later as well, not only for those who are able to join the chat with you in the live session.

WHAT’S YOUR RESOURCE?

I have two resources that teachers can use: My YouTube Channel ‘Anglo-Link‘.  Here, they can find lessons on different aspects of the language for Intermediate and Advanced students.  Most videos feature exercises as well.

My website anglo-link.com covers similar topics and provides online written and audio exercises as well as downloadable audio and pdf files.  Some of the content is free, but to access all the exercises, it is necessary to upgrade to Premium or Premium Plus Membership.

Michael Marzio

Michael Marzio

TIP FOR PLANNING ONLINE (OR A TOOL TO USE):

My one tip for planning an online lesson would be to get to know your student’s objectives and interests in detail, and also to determine his or her level, in order to prepare the best possible online learning experience for your learner.

WHAT’S YOUR RESOURCE?

Real English® is an extensive online video library of spontaneous dialogues of people interviewed in English-speaking countries, organized according to traditional functional, lexical and grammatical criteria despite the obvious spontaneity of the interviews.

In other words, Real English is based on a very simple idea, the organization and pedagogical exploitation of spontaneous speech. “Spontaneous” goes way beyond the current catchword of “authentic” video, which most often refers to Hollywood films as content for ESL/EFL teachers & students. There are no actors in Real English®. Students tend to identify with ordinary people, i.e., the famous interviewees, especially when we put them on the spot.

In addition to the video, we make extraordinary interactive lessons for the short (easily digestible) portions of the videos for the exercises. Our most recent lesson (81)  includes 100 exercises for 8 short interviews. There is so much natural repetition that even the difficult passages are  appropriated by learners in a natural way, watching real people being themselves, as students learn to understand everything on their own.

Shayna F. De Oliveira

Shayna

TIP FOR PLANNING ONLINE (OR A TOOL TO USE):

With online lessons, it can be harder to keep the students’ attention than in a traditional classroom. You can help students stay engaged by making your online lessons short and easily digestible. When possible, mix up the format with interesting visuals, different activities, quizzes, and practical applications.

WHAT’S YOUR RESOURCE?

On the Espresso English blog and YouTube channel, each lesson is short and sweet, focusing on a single concept. Teachers can use the videos in classrooms or have students watch them as homework, helping them stay connected with English for a few minutes every day in between regular classes.

Adir Ferreira

Adir Ferreira

TIP FOR PLANNING ONLINE (OR A TOOL TO USE):

Hello there! When planning an online lesson is to think about who I’m going to teach and what I want them to learn. Usually I choose a main text or listening passage and try to make the most of it by using short-timed activities around that topic. Thought-provoking and vocabular-building activities are my favorite!

WHAT’S YOUR RESOURCE?

My blog has hundreds of posts for Portuguese-speaking students who are learning English. These posts include lots of idioms (I love these!), gramar, songs and vocabulary. Most of them can be adapted into other languages and it’s a really good resource.

Jason R Levine

Jason R Levine

TIP FOR PLANNING ONLINE (OR A TOOL TO USE):

Spend more of your time and effort planning how you’ll observe your students-what they like and don’t like, what they need more help with, how much time they need to complete activities-than in precisely what way you will teach them.

WHAT’S YOUR RESOURCE?

I make songs and videos on YouTube to teach and learn English, especially boring or hard to learn vocabulary and grammar structures. Teachers can play the videos in class or have students watch them at home or “on the go”, with or without accompanying materials (available by emailing me: collolearn@gmail.com)

Kris Jagasia

Kris Jagasia

TIP FOR PLANNING ONLINE (OR A TOOL TO USE):

In a conversation based, online ESL lesson, the focus is usually on building confidence in order to promote the student to speak. Due to the form factor of the virtual classroom, there is also a lot of empty space on the student’s screen that presents a great opportunity for screen sharing lesson content. Workbooks, exercise sheets and class homework are not great tools to increase energy levels during an online lesson (nor are they ideal for screen sharing).

When we design our lesson content, we aim to create conversation guides, prompts that naturally direct conversation while reinforcing target grammar and vocabulary. Pictures with small amounts of text arranged using slide presentation software such as PowerPoint or Prezi are ideal.

Our biggest piece of advice to other online teachers is to adapt your lesson content style for the online environment, and to test your content and refine it based on student reactions. Think about the difference between a meeting or conference where the presenter shows up with a well structured PowerPoint presentation used as a visual prompt, rather than text heavy, bulleted slides. The brighter and more inspiring your lesson content, the more energy and motivation there will be in your students and the longer you will retain them as loyal paying customers.

WHAT’S YOUR RESOURCE?

Off2Class is a project to build and release ESL lesson content purposefully designed for private ESL teachers and tutors. Over the years of teaching private ESL lessons both online and offline, we realized there were not enough high quality content resources designed for ESL teachers running one-on-one or small group lessons. We have a library of 150 (and quickly growing) ESL lesson plans, that are loaded onto an easy to use web/tablet platform which is well suited for screen sharing (if you are running online ESL lessons). We are currently in private Beta and are offering free accounts to teachers who are eager to give us feedback. Teachers can request an account on the Off2Class homepage.

Sean Banville

Sean Banville

TIP FOR PLANNING ONLINE (OR A TOOL TO USE):

One of my favourite tools to use for making online lessons is the site textivate.com. In my opinion it is one of the very best resources ever for anyone who wants to create interactive activities for articles or any writing. It is also one of the simplest – paste your text into a box, press a button and then you have 55 online activities!

WHAT’S YOUR RESOURCE?

I have nine materials sites, the best-known of which is Breaking News English.com. On this site, new lessons are uploaded every two days based on a very current news story. Lessons are graded at seven levels. Each level had multi-speed reading and listening, 30+ online activities, a 40-activity printable handout, a 2-page mini-lesson, and more. This site and the others are at http://www.freeeslmaterials.com/sean_banville_lessons.html

Justin Murray

Justin Murray

TIP FOR PLANNING ONLINE (OR A TOOL TO USE):

Encourage your students to incorporate relaxed, enjoyable daily lifestyle English habits into their lives as fundamental components of their processes. This could be anything from reading the lyrics and singing along to their favorite songs, watching an episode of a TV series every day, reading a book or magazine, attending a local language learning meetup, or making new friends with other learners online. It’s also important to revisit the topic on a regular basis (if not every class), to celebrate successful examples, and to even create systems, processes, and logs, that measure and reinforce these habits.

WHAT’S YOUR RESOURCE?
RealLife English is a community based English/ language learning platform for teachers, students, and native speakers with a mission is to inspire, empower, and connect the world through English, both online and in-person.

We do this through our web site, which has over 500 articles, podcasts, and videos, all teaching English in fun, dynamic, and imaginative ways that seek to motivate students to connect their English to things they enjoy and make it a convenient part of their daily life.  We also have an online social network, forum, and a worldwide network of in-person language learning events.

By helping teachers and learners change their perspective on English, cultivate the psychological tools necessary for success, and compliment their learning programs with authentic, real life experiences, we’ve found that it’s possible not only to accelerate the path to true, lifelong fluency, but also to enjoy the process a lot more.

http://reallifeglobal.com/start-here

Lisa Biskup

Lisa Biskup

TIP FOR PLANNING ONLINE (OR A TOOL TO USE):

Use Google Drive documents to share articles and other reading materials using the screenshare feature in Google Hangouts. This allows you and your students to view the same page so that you can point out grammatical structures, vocabulary and expressions while reading along together. Set the share permission so that your student can view and/or edit, depending on the objectives of your lesson.

WHAT’S YOUR RESOURCE?

My site is www.englishfluencynow.com. Teachers can use this site with their students to provide high-quality upper intermediate and advanced English materials, including free blog lessons and podcasts. These materials are excellent for helping students prepare for TOEFL, IELTS and other English proficiency exams. You can also use the materials as jumping-off points for in-depth discussions and conversations.

Shanthi Cumaraswamy Streat

Shanthi Street

TIP FOR PLANNING ONLINE (OR A TOOL TO USE):

I don’t do any formal preparation when it comes to my online lessons! I am very much directed by my clients and what they’d like to discuss. My clients are all business people and use their lessons as fluency and accuracy practice. Their goal is be able to talk about a range of topics. As the conversation gets going, I develop the language around it.

WHAT’S YOUR RESOURCE?

I started my blog in March 2013. It was originally intended for learners of English. I wanted to share my ideas and love for the English Language and Literature. Over time I realised that more and more teachers were using my posts in their classrooms.In their comments on my blog, I found out that they were using my posts as a useful reminder of a grammar or lexical point and adapting them to their lessons.

http://englishwithatwist.com/

Vicky Loras

Vicky Loras

TIP FOR PLANNING ONLINE (OR A TOOL TO USE):

When planning online lessons, it is always very important to think about how you will send students materials they can use during or after the lesson, and feedback. Will there be a chatbox in the platform? Will it be via email? It needs to be planned beforehand.

WHAT’S YOUR RESOURCE?

I have my blog divided into pages: simple blog posts with tips or experiences, my Business English page, my poetry page (with poems I have written that teachers can use in class, if they wish), my Literature page with activities I have created based on books, or activities others have created and I have collected them all there. I also have a Presentations page, where teachers can download links, handouts and slides I have used in my presentations.

http://vickyloras.wordpress.com

Stephen Mayeaux

Stephen Mayeux

TIP FOR PLANNING ONLINE (OR A TOOL TO USE):

I’m in love with Evernote because it’s such a versatile tool for both students and teachers. After each lesson, I write detailed notes about what was covered along with the student’s strengths and weaknesses. I can even include multimedia in the notes and share them with my students via e-mail, SMS, or directly through Evernote if they also have the app.

WHAT’S YOUR RESOURCE?

My blog’s really great if you’re students are hip-hop fans or anyone who wants to learn informal English, such as idioms and phrasal verbs. I’ve got tons of lessons on these, but teachers should check out my 15 Ways to Use Hip-Hop to Teach English resource (http://eslhiphop.com/2013/05/15-quick-ideas-for-using-hip-hop-in-class/). They’re very practical and easy to set up and can be used with music of any genre.

Jason West

Jason West

TIP FOR PLANNING ONLINE (OR A TOOL TO USE):

Prepare learners for one-to-one conversations with non-teachers. Guide them through towards comprehension of some target  language, appropriate to their speaking level and which will be of interest to their speaking partner. Help them to make connections.

WHAT’S YOUR RESOURCE?

Our English Out There resources work anywhere two people can talk (e.g. Skype or Hangouts) because they evolved over seven years of supported real practice with complete strangers on the streets of London. They guide and scaffold natural second language acquistion. Professor Stephen Krashen called an online case study with a typical adult Chinese English learner, “Remarkable… a major contribution to our knowledge about what works. Thanks for posting this”.
You can listen to before and after clips of that learner’s course experience here:
http://englishoutthere.com/home-page/listen

Easy to Reference Resources

All Ears English

Go Natural English

Film English

Tripppin

Sylvia’s English Online

English Anyone

Simple English Videos

Anglo Link

Real English®

Espresso English

Adir’s Blog

Collolearn on Youtube

Off2Class

Breaking News English

RealLife English

English Fluency Now

English With a Twist

Vicky Loras

ESL Hip Hop

English Out There

To Fluency (my site)

Why not save them all to a folder in your bookmarks, or take Stephen’s advice and use Evernote, and tag them all “English Resources.” (I’ve just done the latter!).

Over to You

Do you create your own resources? Do you have tips for teaching online?

If so, please leave a comment below; I will update this post with YOUR resources (and favourite resources) here.

AND… please share this post by clicking the social icons below; I really do appreciate it.

Want to Teach English Online?

Get the tools and resources you need to get started.

I will also send you my best tips about how to become a successful online teacher.

Click the button, enter your details, and download it now.

DOWNLOAD NOW >>

Teaching English to Young Learners Online

Teaching Young Learners Online, Getting Students, and Lesson Planning: An Interview With James Heywood

I connected with James and his business partner Kris around a year ago, and if you are a regular reader of this blog, you will remember that Kris wrote a guest post last year (click here to read it). I was excited to get one of the guys back to talk about their new creation for English teachers, and to share their experience of teaching English online to young learners.

Kris stepped forward, and in the following interview, he gives some really powerful advice about teaching young learners online, how to find students, and how his new site can make planning for online lessons much easier.

There’s a lot of value in this interview. Here it is:

What We Discussed

James talked about his background, and how he travelled around teaching in different countries before settling in Turkey. He was receiving requests for private learners, and was spending more time teaching these types of lessons and finding them more rewarding.

He then decided to move his teaching online. The reasons for doing this included: he saw online learning was growing, he liked the online teaching environment, wanted to save time by not having to commute, and wanted open up his lessons to a broader market.

So, this is how his first site (TurksLearnEnglish) was born.

Specializing and Finding a Niche

“The name is basic, but that’s exactly what it is: it’s a site built for Turks to learn English.”

The vast majority of his students are young learners from Turkey. James talks about how important it is to have a niche; to specialize in a certain area.

We then both discuss the advantages of doing this, including knowing the culture, the language, and other things about our specific learners to ensure that we can offer them the best value.

Teaching Young Learners

James argues that taking young learners online helps increase motivation, turning technology from a play instrument into a learning instrument.

“The student’s focus is increased enormously because there’s not somebody sitting at the other side of the class throwing a piece of paper..”

Having the different tools and applications, you can make the learner focus more on the lesson, bringing the child’s attention on to what is happening in the class. James has found this to be really empowering for his young learners.

Some tips when teaching young learners: the learner needs to learn in a quiet space, don’t allow interruptions by the parents, don’t allow other devices, communicate with their parents, use their own environment for learning props, and be flexible with the lesson. When starting with a new child, offer a trial lesson with the parent present.

Getting Learners

James then gave his advice on how to fill up your schedule with online learners. Firstly, he states how important it is to be confident when starting out. He was able to move all but one of his learners to his new online learning environment, and recommends talking with your current learners about making this change.

Word of mouth has worked really well for TurksLearnEnglish (something that I and other teachers constantly talk about). To do this, get a landing page up (here are the options available for this); this gives referrals and new learners the ability to know more about you and to be confident that you are a legitimate teacher.

Turks Learn English

The TurksLearnEnglish Landing Page

James and Kris know their market well and have a very specialized niche. He doesn’t recommend spreading yourself too thin, but instead, be attractive to a segment of the English learning market. Finding the first student is the hardest thing; that it why it’s important to have a strong landing page.

We then talk about the important of keeping contacts (something I have written about here).

Lesson Planning (Off2Class)

I receive lots of emails about the best resources for online teaching. And James and Kris have started something really exciting: a database of lessons plans that you can use online through sharing your screen or through student and teacher logins.

It was created to remove the amount preparation time for online teachers, with the lessons being effective for 80% of the students 80% of the time. Here is an example of a lesson:

Off2Class

Off2Class Lessons

You can see the lesson notes on the left hand side and the slides on the right. When a learner is logged in, they don’t see the lesson notes, but as you move through the lesson, their screen will show the slide that you are currently on.

As you saw in the interview, there are lots of material involved in each lesson. They are still in BETA, but you can request an account from their homepage.

Click here to get an account

About James

James Heywood has lived and worked in Sydney, Paris, Auckland, Dubai, and has a background in language and linguistics. He is a strong believer in the use of technology in the learning environment. After years of teaching in language institutes and private schools, he made the leap to online in late 2012.

He has taught a variety of ESL students online including young learners, adults and adolescents in one-on-one and group settings. Off2Class (lesson plan content for private ESL teachers) was launched to provide lesson content resources targeted to teachers running their own private tutorials.

Over to You

As I mentioned during the interview, I have no experience teaching young learners online, so it was fascinating for me to learn about this. Let us know if you have experience teaching this age group, or whether James has inspired you to do the same.

Additionally, I recommend signing up to Off2Class. If you do, please let us know your thoughts. And as always, feel free to leave whatever comments you have about the interview.

Thanks for watching!

Want to Teach English Online?

Get the tools and resources you need to get started.

I will also send you my best tips about how to become a successful online teacher.

Click the button, enter your details, and download it now.

DOWNLOAD NOW >>