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.

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Interview with Teacher Diane

Interview With a Location Independent Online English Teacher – Teacher Diane

Teacher Diane is someone who I have been following online for the last year or so.

So, it was a nice surprise when she reached out to me to connect. I soon realized that I wanted to give her the platform here at Teaching ESL Online to share her story and the valuable advice she has for other online teachers.

In our interview, Diane shares with us her experience of being a location independent online English teacher, and how she has managed to build up a large student base.

As you’ll see, she has some creative ways (and tools) to teach her lessons and make videos for her followers.

Here is the interview (watch in HD):

If you would like to teach English online, click here.

What We Discussed

Diane started teaching English five years ago, firstly in Brazil and then in Chicago. After two years of teaching in the language school in Chicago, she got the travel bug and decided to start her own website so that she could teach and travel at the same time.

Making the Transition

Diane was a little hesitant at first, but started with an old student and realized that she could do more online than in the classroom – screen sharing, links etc. – and she found that is was more comfortable to teach at home.

Diane uses a Wacom Tablet for her teaching, writing and drawing on this tablet. Her learners can see this on their screens along with her webcam.

She also uses the tablet to make her very unique videos for Youtube; here is an example:

Bringing Learners onto Her Website and Into Her Lessons

Youtube has been one the best sources of students for Diane, and she places a link at the start of each video and also in the description box under the video to bring people onto her site.

We then talked about putting ourselves out there on video, and how it can be strange to hear your own voice at first. I know this can be a concern for teachers when starting out, but this does become easier the more you do it.

Diane now schedules her posts on Facebook and batches this work every Sunday. She has three types of posts: a question post, something humorous, and then a post with a link back to her website.

She uses Facebook to build her brand and also to give more exposure to her videos and other materials.

Planning Lessons and Hiring Other Teachers

Diane has a tailored approach to her lessons where she is specific to each student, although she does have certain students who fall into a similar category. She has build up many resources over the years.

Diane has contracted other teachers to help with her workload, hiring teachers who she has met on her travels.

Plans for the Future

Diane’s plans are to focus on marketing her website and learn more about SEO and social media marketing.

She plans to create other sites for specific types of learners (English for doctors, for example). And in the long-term, she wants to write a grammar book and open a language school in the US.

Summary and Over to You

It’s great to see how successful Diane has been with her online teaching and her site does a great job at converting learners into paying students.

One thing that I took away from our interview is this: if you put quality stuff out there, work hard at it, and stay consistent, you are going to get rewarded.

At first, it might seem like you’re doing a lot for small reward; but as you build up momentum, you’ll start seeing some really good results, and have opportunities to hire others and expand just like Diane has done.

Please comment below to let me know your thoughts on this interview. I’m really interested to read what you have to say about this.

About Diane:

Diane is an English teacher from New York with over five years of experience teaching English to students from all over the world.  She is the Founder of teacherdiane.com, a website that provides personalized English lessons on Skype.  You can watch her English grammar tutorials or follow her Facebook group, Learn English on Skype.

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Google Drive Youtube Thumbnail

Using Google Drive to Collaborate With Learners Online (Including Audio Feedback)

There are many reasons to use Google Drive as an English teacher.

Personally, I use it for all my documents and spreadsheets which make running my online teaching business much easier.

But in the video below, I specifically look at how you can use Google Documents, Google Presentations, and a very special add-on to work with your students asynchronously.

These tools can be used whether you teach online or offline, and I hope it gives you some ideas of how you can work asynchronously with your learners.

Here is the video:

Use Google Drive for Writing Projects, Audio, and Presentations

In the video, I gave three examples of how you can use Google Drive with your learners.

Google Docs

I explained how to share a document (easy, right?), and then showed a project that one of my students worked on last year.

The idea to do this came from my interview with Mark Barnes (see here), where I asked my learner what type of project he wanted to do. I left it open, explained that it would be a long-term project, and he came back to me with his idea for a book.

Over the next few weeks, he added another chapter (about one page) to his book, and I corrected his work – which he could see through the revision history – and also commented on specific parts of the text to open up a discussion on certain points.

Something that I didn’t mention was that after correcting his work, I formed some questions based on the mistakes he made so he could practice specific structures in the following one-to-one lesson.

Kaizena

Kaizena was recommended to me by Rich Kiker (see his interview here), and although I have only used it on a couple of occasions, I see huge potential with this add-on for Google Docs.

Some ideas for using this with your learners are:

– To give general feedback on a task or project
– To collaborate with your learner on their pronunciation
– To give more speaking practice

If you’re looking for something a little more detailed for speaking feedback, I recommend SoundCloud (example below),

Google Presentations

One of my long-term students had a presentation to give for a job interview last autumn (did you notice American English creeping in during the video?).

We used Google Presentations to work together on this. Firstly, he wrote his presentation and his notes, and I then corrected his mistakes in the slides and gave feedback using the comment feature.

In addition, we used SoundCloud so I could give him feedback on his spoken presentation.

(Note: He got the job!)

Instead of taking a one-to-one lesson, it was much more efficient and effective for us to use Google Presentation and SoundCloud.

Over to You

Have you used Google Drive to collaborate with your students?

If so, or if you have any thoughts on this at all, please leave a comment below.

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Stand Up Post

Teaching Online Doesn’t Have to Mean Sitting All Day

Stand Up Post

When I first talked about starting my own thing online to my friends in Valencia, I remember one teacher saying, “It sounds great, but I couldn’t teach while sitting down at a desk all day.”

For whatever reason, that has always stuck with me. And come to think of it, have you ever seen an engaging lesson within a classroom setting where the teacher is sitting down?

There is no doubt that we are much more animated and energetic when standing. And, and I’m pretty sure you’re aware of the health implications of sitting all day (how sitting is killing you). But when working/teaching online, the vast majority of people use/get a comfy chair and desk.

However, there is an alternative: the stand up desk. Over the last few years, there have been more people that I know and follow getting stand up desks, and a couple of weeks ago, after much research, I finally decided to get one too. Here is what I found.

My Experience With a Stand Up Desk

After a LOT of research (you know the type: hours spent reading reviews and looking at all the options), I went for Adjustable Height Stand Up Desk from The Stand Up Desk Store. This desk can be cranked up or down, meaning that you can adjust it to a standing or sitting position.

I went for this style of desk because I read that transitioning from sitting to standing all day can be difficult. And anyway, there are times when I know I’ll really want to sit down (mainly just after lunch!). It took a while to set up, mainly because of my lack of patience to fully read the instruction manual.

But, what do I make of it? Was it worth the investment?

In a nutshell: I couldn’t be happier. I was really pleased with the price and this thing is solid. It’s also on wheels meaning that you can move it around a little. I went for the one that is 48″ wide (there are bigger options available), and it has plenty of space for two large monitors.

The keyboard and mouse tier is lower than the monitor tier, which allows for correct ergonomics when standing. Here is a picture of what it looks like:

Stand Up Desk Mine

Replace the phone with a teapot, and that’s what mine more or less looks like.

The handle on the right allows you to adjust it to the height you want it at. I’m 5ft 11″, and it’s highest setting is just right for me. So, if you’re taller than that, then this might not be for you.

On the whole, I have loved being able to stand up while teaching and working. At the moment, I’m spending around 75% of my working day standing. I feel more focused and energetic for sure, and doing presentations and teaching this way has really helped me become more dynamic; there is something about standing and presenting/teaching that just goes together.

I highly recommend the desk that I got, but here are a couple of alternatives that I found during my research that I want to introduce here. I also talk about what you should look for in a stand up desk.

Features of a Stand Up Desk and Two Alternatives

Here is a great visual of the how you want your desk to be set up:

standing-desk-ergonomics-v2

Photo credit: iamnotaprogrammer.com

As you can see, the table height should be the same as your elbow height, and the screen should be elevated. Try to avoid stand up desks that have the same height for the keyboard and monitor (in the picture, you can see the monitor on top of a box, which is a way to get around this).

The DIY Version ($22)

Here is a very popular way to convert your current desk into a stand-up desk for around $22:

photo: iamnotaprogrammer.com

photo: iamnotaprogrammer.com

This uses a side table and other pieces from IKEA, that when put together, sits on top of your existing desk. From what I’ve read, people love this set up, and it is quite easy to do. Here is a guide to this if you feel like building your own.

If you have a desktop, then it would be difficult to go from sitting to standing with this setup.

The Varidesk

People also love this version too. It goes on your current desk, and you can go from sitting to standing and back very easily.

Varidesk

photo: Amazon.com

I was considering this for some time, but the current desks I had were too small to accommodate it. It comes in three different sizes, and make sure you do the calculations so that it’s the right height for you.

Click here to read more.

Over to You

Do you have a stand up desk or are you thinking about getting one?

If so, please leave your comments below.

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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.

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Mark Barnes Interview

Student Centered Learning, Social Learning, and Twitter: An Interview with Mark Barnes

There was an article popping up in my various social media feeds the other day called, “Why Everyone Should Be On Twitter.” I then realized it was by Mark Barnes, another fellow presenter in the TTO MOOC. I then read some more of his stuff, asked him for an interview, and a couple of days later we met on Google Hangouts.

In the interview discussion we talk about student centered learning, narrative feedback, social learning, why teachers should be on Twitter and how best to use this platform.

Below the interview I break down what was discussed and relate this to ELT.

Here is the video interview:

What We Discussed

Mark was a teacher for 20 years, and left the classroom two years ago to focus more on his writing and professional development. Let’s start with..

Creating a Results Based Environment

Mark talks about how he was a “traditional teacher” for the first ten years of his career, but after taking some time to research motivation, he decided to do something different. His biggest focus for this was the final result: learning.

To achieve this he created what he calls a chaotic environment, one where kids are working on different things, have long-term projects, and use different technology to head towards a goal and learn whatever the objective is at that time.

“The most important thing of all was I eliminated traditional grading… I’m tired of measuring kids learning and punishing them if they don’t turn something in… that turned out to be something really exciting.”

Narrative Feedback

Mark talks about a system that he pulled from other systems called SE2R (Summarize, Explain, Redirect, and Resubmit). This is using descriptive feedback to eliminate subjectivity and comparisons. It gives the student to go back and revisit prior learning.

“I think that education should be about mastery learning and not punishing kids with grades.”

We then go on to discuss the tools that we can use to achieve this.

Social and Mobile Learning

Mark then goes on to talk about social and mobile learning and how we should find ways to incorporate the devices our students have into their learning.

“We are heading to a place, very soon, where every kid will have a mobile device.”

“Educators have to face it, and they have to prepare for it.. I have to be ready to use it myself.”

There is then some great advice given in terms of how to do this: watch online videos and actually use the devices and applications that you want to use. And learning how to use these tools will take less time than you think.

Twitter

Mark’s article went viral this week. And he gives a couple of reasons why everyone should be on Twitter (click here for the full list):

1. Free Professional Development: Twitter has an advantage in that it is very professional. Following other educators and following specific chats gives you access to advice and resources in your industry.

2. Kids are moving to Twitter from other platforms.

When joining Twitter, it is important to follow these discussions, find “How to Use Twitter Videos,” follow people in your industry (more specifically, find one person who you look up to and follow who they are following), and post with hashtags when first starting.

Relating this to ELT

Throughout the interview I related what Mark discussed to ELT. Here are some ideas I talked about and more on reflection.

Traditional Marking and feedback: The language schools that I worked in liked exams, and it seemed like half our time was spent on either studying for an exam, taking an exam, or reviewing an exam.

I really like the idea of trying to achieve mastery in learning, especially in our industry. Having running feedback, using Google Drive for example, means that we can ensure that our students stop making mistakes that seem to be engrained. This is something that I have implemented through creating audio resources for my learners.

Repetition is such an important part of learning a language. It is our job to make this fun and engaging.

Student Centered Learning: Although we didn’t talk about this too much, it is really important that we help our students find their intrinsic motivation. This is what I believe to be at the core of a results based classroom, especially when talking about online ELT.

An easy way to do this is to make the lessons centered around the interests of your learners. For example, I have one learner who is an athlete (running, rogaining, skiing, and biking!). The materials we use are centered around these topics. By doing this, we talk about things that she is interested in and she also learns the language that she needs to know.

I recently posted a video for my online learners that talks about how to read interesting things and how to subscribe to blogs (click here to watch it).

Social and Mobile Learning: As I mentioned in our discussion, I convince my students to change the language of their devices into English, and use these devices to read, listen, and watch things in English.

This really helps when it comes to getting the input needed to make progress in English. People are going to use these devices; as educators we need to think about ways to use this to our and our student’s advantage.

Twitter: Mark has given me the motivation to follow more discussions on Twitter and to use this platform for professional development. If you follow Marks advice, you will get so much out of this platform.

Resources Mentioned in Our Discussion

You can follow Mark on Twitter and check out his blog: Brilliant or Insane.

Here are Mark’s books:

Role Reversal

The Five Minute Teacher

Teaching the iStudent

And, here is the website Learn it in 5.

I also mentioned the Twitter discussion #ELTchat, you can find out more information about this here.

Mark talked about Daniel Pink and his book Drive (I’ve just ordered it – I’ve been wanting to get this for a while now), and research from Alfie Kohn.

Over to You

I would love to hear your feedback on student centered learning, social and mobile learning, and narrative feedback. Here are some questions:

How do you keep a narrative feedback with your learners?
How are you incorporating devices into learning?
How are you bringing out your learners’ intrinsic motivation?

Please leave your comments below; I really appreciate them.

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Teaching Update 2014

My 2014 Goal Update + 80/20, Batching, and Focus

Teaching Update 2014

In January, I wrote a post looking back on 2013 and also talked about my English teaching goals for 2014. Writing down this helped me process what I wanted to achieve and created some accountability. I also hoped that it would inspire others to get into the world of online teaching.

In the post, I stated that I wanted to focus my creative efforts on podcasting, videos, and building my email list. In addition, I talked about starting group lessons and creating a teaching guide. Here is my progress with this so far:

2014 Goal Updates

Please note that all but one of my goals below are related to English teaching.

Building My Email List

I’ve made a big effort to increase my email list numbers this year. The results have been incredible (a 1000% increase in subscribers). The main reason for this increase was because I started giving things away for free.

I wrote a 16 page book/guide called, “The Five Keys to Becoming Fluent in English.” This turned out to be really popular and was shared extensively by those who read it. In addition to this book, I’ve also given webinars that have proven to be really popular too, and when someone signs up, they get added to my list. I love the excitement of a live event with 200/300+ people watching, and it is great to help so many people at the same time.

Having this list has meant that I can directly reach my followers (and potential students), and this way of communication is much more effective than social media.

(Note: Subscriber numbers are not the be all and end all. A community needs to be served, and to do this you have to continually send quality content. This is true for your emails and what you have on your website.)

(Here is a guide on how to start your own email list)

Group Lessons and Courses

I started group conversational lessons in March and love these types of lessons. I have 2-4 students in a group and we discuss a video/article that I send to them before the class. It works well for students who want structured speaking practice but can’t afford the one-to-one lessons.

Getting students for group lessons has proved more challenging than one-to-one. The main reason for this is that people want to learn at different times. But as my community grows, I will be able to do more of these lessons.

I also started another course in May on WizIQ. There were a total of five live presentations along with other learning materials and assignments. The course went really well: I managed to get 28 learners to sign up and the feedback I got was very encouraging.

I’m doing the same course again this week, and then maybe a couple more times this year. The biggest problem with getting learners to sign up is the timing of the lessons; even though the lessons are recorded, most students want to be able to take them live and interact with me and fellow learners.

I plan on taking the content of this course and putting it into a video course. This will also make it easier for me, as once I have got the content recorded, my only role in this is to market the course, interact with the learners, and keep things ticking along.

Other Products

I’ve also experimented with different products and services. I created a guide for IELTS learners that helps them with their writing and ran an advertising experiment using Facebook Ads. I managed to get five sales, with four out of those five going on to buy another product or service.

The next step is to improve the product (adding a premium package) and go through the sales page and marketing plan to improve it. Once I have done that I’m going to start promoting it again. I’ve got ideas for other products too and will most likely release these in a few months.

Podcast and Videos

I enjoy making videos but they take a lot of energy and time to produce. I was making long videos that were quite creative and I found it quite draining. I decided to take a break from video production to focus on other areas, and I will look at doing them again in the future once I have a system in place and a specific type of video format in mind.

I want to be able to fire out as many quality videos as possible without taking too much time. Therefore, I’m going to brainstorm ideas and start producing again once I have a good system in place.

As for the podcast, I am getting closer and closer to the recording stage. I’ve thought long and hard about what I want my podcast to be about and how it can fit into the overall picture. I was initially going to include my wife in the podcast and create conversational audio. However, we are currently finding it hard to get an hour or so to sit down and record (the nine-month old is the main barrier to this!).

So I have decided to go ahead and make a podcast that focuses on the mentality and methods for English learners who want to reach a high level. I’ve written the plan and a list of episodes, and I’m going to throw myself into this project in this fall (after 3 1/2 years of living in America, I’ve started saying fall instead of autumn. And although I thought it would never happen, I find myself saying soccer instead of football!).

A Teaching Online Guide

My guide on how to teach English (or any language) online will be ready in July/August/September. It is going to be a video course that comes with other learning materials and will cover all aspects of online teaching (focusing on one-to-one lessons, but also including group lessons and course creation), including: setting up, website design, platforms, finding niches, marketing, branding, and much more.

(if you’re not already in my community, click here to join my mail list and to receive updates about this course.)

Things I’ve Learned

During the first part of this year I have also invested a lot of time and energy into my own development. I’ve taken various marketing courses, read many self-development and teaching books, and I have become very commitment to what I want to achieve long-term.

One thing that I noticed was that earlier this year I was spreading myself too thin. I was taking on all types of projects, starting new ones all the time, and didn’t have a clear plan of action.

To overcome this I decided to leave a few projects aside and concentrate on only one or two at one time while setting up systems for everything else. The course that I gave on WizIQ is a good example of that: I put a lot of time and effort into it in April and May, and now I have the course written and I have a marketing plan in place, I can now spend most of my energy on other projects.

I’m also batching my work. Batching is when you dedicate blocks of time to work on similar tasks. For example, I generally reply to emails during a 20 minute window in the morning, create the plans for my lessons on a Friday/Monday, and take my one-to-one lessons at one part of the day (between 12 and four). I’ve found this helped me focus, and made me more productive and creative.

And finally, I now do a 80/20 analysis once every two months. The 80/20 rule (or Pareto principle) states that 80% of effects come from 20% of the causes. Relating this to marketing, for example, we can say that 80% of sales come from 20% of marketing efforts. This is one of the reasons why I slowed down my video production and put my focus on building my email list. I also explain this rule to English learners in my courses and lessons so that they understand how important it is to concentrate on doing things that actually make a difference to their progress.

Over to You

If you are doing your own thing too, let me know what you’re working on at the moment. And if you are someone who would like to teach online, tell me what you are currently doing to get started.

Thanks for reading!

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Best Platforms for Teaching Online

Want to Teach Online? Here Are Four Platforms that You Can Use

In my last post, I talked about how to use Google Hangouts on Air to teach live language lessons to an unlimited amount of people.

Since then, I have received a lot of questions from people in my community about what platform is best to use when teaching one-to-one or small group lessons.

Most people start using Skype, and when I first started, this was the only real platform that was available. But, over the past few years many more platforms have been introduced, and recently I’ve been using Google Hangouts, Zoom, and WizIQ.

In this post I’m going to go through the four options and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each. Let’s start with the most popular: Skype.

Skype

Skype Logo

Skype is the most used option when it comes to facilitating one-to-one lessons, and is actually the main advantage of using Skype as most of your potential students will either have it or will have heard of it. There are two versions: free and premium.

With the free version you can:

– Call anyone who as a Skype account.
– Send instant and video messages.
– Take part in group calls (only using two webcams).

To get group video calls and screen sharing you will need to upgrade to the premium service ($9.99 per month).

I’ve been using Skype for years now, and it’s only been the last couple of months that it’s started to freeze, crash, and have other problems. I still use it for my long-term students, but I’m starting to teach new students on other platforms due to the technical problems, and also because it is a little limited.

The quality of the calls is good on the whole, and from experience, it compares with Google Hangouts. I feel the main reason to use Skype is because it’s the most used application out of the three, and many teachers have actually built their brand around it.

Another advantage when using Skype is that it saves all your text chats; this gives you the ability to look at what you have done with students in the past, and also helps you when you’re trying to figure out who an old contact is.

However, to be able to share your screen you have to pay for the premium service. In addition, Skype doesn’t have the features that the other three have, and is pretty basic in this department; for example, to record the lessons you will need to use third party software.

Click here to learn more about Skype

Click here to watch my video on how to use it

(Update July 2014: Skype now includes free group calls and screen sharing)

Google Hangouts

Google Hangout Logo

Not to be confused with Google Hangouts on Air, Google Hangouts is similar to Skype, but is much more fun to use, has no premium version, and has many more features.

Here is what you can do with Google Hangouts (all for free):

– Call anyone with a Google account.
– Use your webcam for video calls.
– Chat using the chat box.
– Share your screen.
– Embed Youtube videos.
– Use a whiteboard (through an application called Cacoo).
– Record the hangout.
– And, you can have fun using Google effects

Google Hangouts Effects

Using the Google Hangout Effects

There are also different apps that you can install and use, with new ones being created all the time.

To start a Google Hangout you need to have a Google Plus account and you have to download the app before getting started.

What I like about Google Hangouts is that there is so much that you do for free, and I imagine that they are going to add more features all the time. The effects at the moment are just a bit of fun, but I hope they add the ability to upload your own backgrounds; this would make role-playing much more effective and engaging (by using backgrounds so that you can practice ordering from cafes, buying tickets, business meetings etc.).

Google Hangouts doesn’t save the chats from the hangouts (at least, I can’t find this option anywhere; they do save the chats that take place outside of the video hangout though).

One way to get around this is to do what my friend Beatriz over at www.nativespanishteacher.com does. She creates a Google document for each student and then opens this during the lesson. She makes notes and the student has the opportunity to add to the document too. It’s like live chatting but within a document, and the chats are automatically saved.

Having to be on Google + to use Hangouts may put some off, but the platform is becoming much more important in the social media market, and I predict this trend to continue.

Click here to find out more about Google Hangouts.

Zoom

Zoom Logo

I learned about Zoom from the guys over at Turks Learn English, and they use this platform for their group lessons. The biggest reason to use Zoom is due to the brilliant connection it offers. I’ve used this for some of my one-to-one and group lessons, and the connection has been much better for me than the connection offered by Skype and Google Hangouts.

With the free plan you can:

– Host HD video and audio lessons.
– Host group lessons (40 minute max).
– Share your screen.
– Embed videos (and play the audio from the video).
– Have private and group chats.
– Schedule and have recurring lessons.
– Kick people out of the meeting (great for lessons with children!).

To get unlimited time for the group lessons (and to get some other features) it costs $9.99 per month. It’s easy to sign up through Google or Facebook, and the application is very small in size and very fast. When you arrange meetings you have the option to make them recurring, and it automatically adds the meetings you arrange to your online calendar of choice.

Here is what the screen looks like after you have downloaded it:

Zoom Cloud Meeting Software

I love Zoom because of the connection; I haven’t had any problems with delay, echoes, or the other annoying audio problems that you sometimes get with Skype and Google Hangouts.

In addition, the free version is great and will give most people everything they need.

Click here to learn more about Zoom

WizIQ

WizIQ Logo
I’m currently in the middle of teaching my first course on WizIQ, and I gave a couple of lessons as part of the ELT Techniques Course hosted by Jason R Levine in December. So far, I’ve been really impressed with this platform, especially when it comes to facilitating large groups.

Here is what you can do with WizIQ:

– Upload course content (PDFs, videos, power point slides, spreadsheets) so that only those in the course can access them.
– Give live lessons that are automatically recorded, and can be download.
– Give assignments within the course; your students can submit them, and then you can give feedback privately.
– Set multiple choice tests.

The live lessons that I’ve been giving have been in the format of presentations, but you can have up to 6 webcams in one lesson, and also create breakout rooms (where, for example, you pair off your students and they can talk with each other privately during the live class).

Here’s what the classroom looks like:

Wiz IQ Classroom

In the main area you can share your screen, upload presentations, videos etc., or use the whiteboard. On the right you can see the live chat with my face above that. Another feature that I like is the ability to create and publish polls during the class.

The plans start at $19 per month, and this presents great value if you are teaching large groups and/or you have a good schedule of smaller groups and one-to-one lessons. I can’t comment too much on the connection because I haven’t used it for video conferencing, but it has worked seamlessly for the presentation style course that I’m currently offering.

Click here to learn more about WizIQ

Which One to Choose?

If you’re just starting out and mainly teaching one-to-one, I would recommend going with one the free options. Most people turn to Skype first, but I think that Zoom and Google Hangouts have the best features, and in Zoom’s case, a much better connection. However, Skype does have the advantage of being the biggest name out of the fours options.

WizIQ is a great option for those who are at the stage where paying the $19 a month for extra features is good value, and especially if you have large groups.

My best advice is to try out the different options, choose one, and then start teaching. You can always change platforms, and even teach using a combination of two or more.

Over to You

Let me know which platform you prefer, whether I’ve missed anything, and if there are other options out there. Leave your comments below.

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Google Hangouts Post Artwork Featured

Using Google Hangouts on Air for Teaching English

Google Hangouts Post ArtworkI had my first experience using Google Hangouts on Air this week. I’m happy to say that it was successful both in terms of the presentation I gave and the technical side of things. I did A LOT of research and testing to ensure that everything went smoothly.

There are a lot of ways that you can mess things up as it’s not as intuitive as you would think. But, once you have done it once, you will be able to get things set up in minutes.

I’ve written this post to tell you about my experience, and also to give you step-by-step instructions so that you can do it too.

What is a Google Hangout on Air?

A Google Hangout on Air (HOA) lets you stream a video live on Youtube to an unlimited amount of people. Basically, it allows you to host your own webinar. It also records the live video and adds it to your Youtube channel.

It was perfect for what I wanted to do this week: host a free lesson/presentation on my website as a way to introduce a new course that I’m going to teach in April.

Google Hangouts on Air is free, easy to use once you know what to do, and allows you to embed the live video on your site. Here is what I did to get around 140 people watching my presentation live on my website.

Get learners to sign up

I created a squeeze page (a page where people can enter their email addresses to sign up) on my website. This is what it looked like:

Webinar Squeeze Page

When someone entered their details, they were automatically subscribed to my mailing list, and then received an automatic message about the lesson. Increasing my mailing list is a big goal of mine, so having people opt-in was really important. It also gave me the ability to remind everyone about the free lesson before it went live, and to send the recording of the lesson to those who missed it.

In total, I had over 1,000 people visit this page, and out of those, over 350 people signed up to the webinar. I’m going to look at ways to increase this conversion rate in the future.

Setting up the event

You need to have a Google Plus profile and a Youtube channel to be able to host a HOA. Setting both of those up is pretty easy to do, and if you need help with this stage, a quick Google search will give you what you need.

You also need to link your channel to your Google+ profile to host a HOA. Think about whether you want to host the hangout from your personal profile or a page that you manage. I hosted mine from my JDA English page.

Create a Hangout on Air, not a Hangout

This is probably the most confusing part. A lot of people have made this mistake (I nearly did too). Don’t create an event, but instead do the following:

Create a Hangout

Select the option below from the main menu on your Google Plus account.

Hanogut Screenshot

Click “Start a Hangout on Air

HAO Screenshot

Then you’ll see this

HAO Form

This is where you enter the details of your hangout. As you can see, there is the option to start it now or later. During my research I read that you couldn’t schedule a HOA for a later date; I guess this is a feature that they’ve just added. However, I decided to get everything set up an hour before my presentation so I selected “Now.”

The reason why you shouldn’t create an event (and choose the hangout option) is because there is a difference between a regular Hangout (where you can chat live with up to nine other people – perfect for one-to-one lessons and group lessons) and a HAO (where anyone with the link can watch your event live – for presentations and big live lessons).

When setting it up, I only shared it with myself (I didn’t make it public). This gave me time to get everything ready. Once you fill in the details of your HAO, you will see this screen.

The Event Page

HAO Event Screen

Your live event will be streamed on this page, on your Youtube channel, and you can also embed the video on your site. I didn’t make the event public because I wanted people watching on my website. More on this later.

You can add a trailer for the event, and there is also the option for people to ask you questions. See the blue start button in the bottom left hand corner? Click this to open up the hangout on air control room (this won’t automatically start the hangout).

The HAO Control Room

Once you click the blue start button, it will ask you if you would like to invite others (I skipped this step), and then you’ll see your lovely face staring back at you. What I did next was mute my microphone and turn off the camera. Here is what you’ll see:

Control Room

There is a big green button at the bottom; don’t click this until you’re ready to start your broadcast. I got to this stage about an hour before the lesson so that I had time to embed the video on my site.

Embed the stream on your site

You can do this before you start. All you need to do is to click “Links” in the bottom right hand corner and grab the code. I modified it a little by making the video a little bigger.

Check settings

As I use an external mic, I went into the settings to select the right one. Make sure that your webcam (if you’re going to show your face) is working correctly.

Screen share

I decided to do a presentation for my live event, and I created this in Google Drive. When creating your presentation, make sure that you use widescreen, and open up the presentation in a new window. Choose this screen to share. You can open up your teaching notes as these won’t be shown on the video. I more or less wrote my entire script in the teaching notes.

Start Broadcast

Once you have everything ready, start your broadcast. I did this about 15 minutes before the time of presentation without turning my microphone on. I wanted to make sure that it was working properly, and got feedback from those who came early.

When it was time to start the presentation, I turned my microphone on, asked for feedback to ensure that everyone could see and hear the video properly, and then began.

Live Chat on the Page

If you decide to have people come to your live event on Google Plus or Youtube, there is the option to leave comments. But, I wanted something a little more interactive. So, I embedded tlk.io next to the video on my website.

I came to the event about 30 minutes early to chat with others and to build the excitement.

Recording the event

Your HOA will be automatically recorded for you and uploaded to your Youtube page. The video will be unlisted, but you can make it public or private if you wish. Additionally, you don’t need a new embed code; it’s the same video link as the live video.

Because I went live before I started the presentation, I cut the video using the editor in Youtube so that it starts right when I start talking. I then sent out the link of the recording to everyone who signed up.

Going Forward and a Question for You

The whole experience was amazing, and I have to admit that I got a big buzz from doing a live online event. I’m glad that I tested it out first, but if you are going to run a test, I recommend setting up a test page and Youtube channel. One of my students told me that he was browsing through Youtube when he saw that my channel was live, and decided to watch my test. He only caught the end, and luckily missed the part where I was moaning at my wife because she wasn’t paying attention to the test stream!

I’m definitely going to do more of these live events and have other ideas for both this site and my teaching site. I want to do more lessons, live interviews, product launches, and spontaneous hangouts.

I’m also going to test making the hangout public on Google Plus (the step I skipped) as I’m sure that a lot of people would have signed up to this and shared my event. But, you do lose the ability to sign people up to your list.

I now have a question for you:

Are you thinking about using Google Hangouts on Air for your students? If so, what ideas do you have?

Leave your comments below. If you would like more information about setting up a squeeze page, marketing your live event, and setting up an email list, then send me a message.

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Online Teaching Projects

What I Achieved in 2013, Projects in 2014, the Baby Effect, and Bill Gates

Online Teaching ProjectsFirst of all, Happy (belated) New Year to all my wonderful readers!

I receive many emails from fellow teachers each day, and love hearing about your situation, what you want to achieve, and your successes. Keep the emails coming!

2013 was a great year for me. On a personal note, our son Thomas was born in August and having him has brought us so much joy. Things have obviously changed a lot since then, but as you’ll see later in the post, having a baby around the house can actually improve productivity!

The best decision I made professionally was to focus on making and cultivating relationships; I have made some great connections with other online teachers which has led to some really incredible opportunities and new learning experiences.

Here is a summary of what I have achieved and learned in 2013.

I improved the lessons that I gave:  I always talk about how going freelance gives you the ability to experiment and grow as a teacher. Well, I took my own advice and added some new features, experimented with different techniques, and made my lessons even more specific to each learner.

I now give my students personalized audio every week that focuses on them getting past their common mistakes. I recommend that they listen a couple of times a day, every day. My students love it, and it means that they can hear my lovely voice wherever they go!

I started making videos on Youtube: I now have five videos on Youtube and the response so far has been really positive. I love making the videos (although it does take a lot of time and can be frustrating, especially when you forget to record the audio!) as I can throw all my creative energy into each one.

It has definitely given me more exposure and I have had many lesson requests from leaners who found me on Youtube. I have also noticed that my videos are shared much more than my blog posts.

I got serious with email: I started a free email course that received nearly 500 subscribers. Most came from a guest post that I wrote for Vocabla. I created an automated email course that subscribers received each day for 30 days. I tried to make it as informative and inspiring as possible, giving away a lot of value (marketing speak) and responding to each email that I received.

I have now made it about 20 emails over 30 days as I got some feedback saying that an email a day (which included action to be taken) was too much. As I gave out some really great information and responded to each email, I feel that I have a lot of dedicated followers. When I now email my list with new posts or videos, I get a lot of feedback and shares.

I have also received a lot of lesson requests from this list. The soft-sell approach has worked really well in this case.

I started this blog!: Starting this blog has not only allowed me to teach online, but to help me get my thoughts on marketing and teaching organized. Writing has been wonderful for me in general. I try to write a little each day whether it be a new post here, on my teaching site, or writing other materials and plans.

I made some really great connections: Connecting with other teachers has been incredible. I started this whole online thing with a lone wolf mindset, and thought that other teachers were competitors (keep away from MY students!). But, connecting with others has brought me into a whole new connected world. As I mentioned, this has brought new opportunities (such as being part of a wonderful MOOC on Wiz IQ).

To use social networks, you have to be social: I used to just copy and paste my links into Facebook groups, on Twitter, and Google Plus. But, to really get a lot out of these networks you have to adapt your message, ask questions, and interact.

I also try to make my artwork standout instead of just using a simple picture (or no picture at all). Visuals are becoming so much more important now due to the vast amount of posts that people see each day.

My son has made me more productive: Having a baby and stay-at-home wife around the house has forced me to change my working habits. I get up A LOT earlier than I used to (I got up at 5am this morning), take care of the morning type stuff, and then get to work. I have about three hours in the morning to do my non-teaching work, with an hour break changing/playing with/looking after Thomas the baby. I then usually teach from 11am to 4pm, and after that it’s family time again. I get a an hour or so at about 8pm to read a few things and do a bit of this and a bit of that.

Before Thomas came into our lives, I was nowhere near as focused. Having a baby not only makes you more productive (by having less time to work on things, I get them done instead of procrastinating), but it also has given me a big boost of motivation to move my business onto the next level instead of just coasting.

Which helps us move on to the next section: 2014!

What Will 2014 Bring?

I have a lot of projects planned for 2014, all of which are focused on finding different types of income instead of just one-to-one teaching.

I love my one-to-one lessons and I have learned so much about the problems that students have through these lessons. I now feel that I have enough knowledge to branch out and enter the world of podcasting, group courses, and other products.

Podcasting: I have the microphone, the recording software, and, as I’ve been told, the voice to make it big in the world of podcasting! I also have a very willing and American sounding wife who will bring an entertaining dynamic to our new shows.

We want to create a fun show for intermediate speakers and up that is based on conversational English. The inspiration has come from many other podcasts, but mostly from Notes in Spanish (If you’re learning Spanish, I highly recommend this podcast). I received an email from them the other day that said that they have had over ten million downloads. TEN MILLION! It blew me away. If we can get just one percent of that in the first year, and a certain percent of those buy our product, then, well.. let’s not get carried away. Instead, I’m looking at it as an adventure and it’s going to be a lot of fun!

More videos: I love making videos and I’m going to experiment with different ways to approach this. For example, I want to make more videos that help learners take charge of their learning. I also received a request from a student to introduce more vocabulary. So, there is a lot to be explored.

I don’t currently monetize my videos on Youtube, but I may look at doing this in the future. At the moment, I use it to drive people to my email list and as a way to better connect with English learners.

More email focus: I’m going to make my email list a priority again this year. 2013 was when I truefully understood how important it is to have people subscribed to your email list. I’m going to offer more freebies and specifically target areas that are included in my niche.

I also redesigned my site so that users know the one action that I want them to take: to sign up. My design before had buttons everywhere and this led to confusion. My sign up rates have doubled as a result of this change.

More niche focus: Niche, niche, niche.. I think this is the most used word on this blog. But, it’s so important, and I’ve found myself falling into an even more targeted niche over the past 12 months: a language coach. I love language learning in general, and I’m also interested in the personal development world, so a lot of what I enjoy writing about now is how English learners can improve through self-study.

I’m also staying with my exam preparation lessons as as preparing students for exams makes the lessons more focused and it naturally has an end point. In a lot of cases, it also makes a huge difference to the lives of my students. Seeing pictures of my formerly frozen Russian students sunbathing in Australia also gives me the sense that I’m doing something worthwhile!

Group lessons and MOOCS: I’m currently putting together a group course that focuses on the change of mindset that is needed for learners to make progress and how learners can do this on their own (with a little help of a certain teacher through online lessons 😉 ).

Doing courses such as these will help me scale my income and will ultimately mean that I can teach less hours.

Continue this blog: .. and complete my guide. I have the first draft more or lesson finished, but there is still a lot to do. I want it to offer A HUGE amount of value (marketing speak again). I’m not putting a date on it, but if I had to guess… no, I’m not even going to give an estimate.

There’s a lot there. Enough to make me want to curl up into a ball and watch reruns of Friends all day. But, let’s bring in Bill Gates to help me get my focus back:

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

I’m going to change ten years to one yearand voila, I feel much better. In fact, if I look back to what I achieved in 2013, the majority was done in the second half of the year (after Thomas was born), and was all due to a change of mindset.

The three hour window that I have each day to do my creative work and marketing doesn’t seem that much. But, over a year, I can get a lot done. So, instead of feeling overwhelmed with my projects and then doing nothing, I just focus on what I can do right now to keep myself going in the right direction, and try to enjoy the process as much as possible.

And, if you are starting to think that this focus can be applied to learning languages and that I’m going to include this advice in my self-study course, then you are most certainly correct!

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