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.


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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  • I recently discovered Zoom and tried it with one of my Brazilian learners. We love it! It has some distinct advantages over Skype, and yet we were able to use both of them simultaneously (although, I don’t see the need to in the future). Spread the word! 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment Stephen, I really see it gathering a lot more pace this year too.

  • Thanks, Jack! I am going to check it out now>

    • Thanks Helen! Keep me posted on how it goes.

      • Hi Jack, it looks really good but I still need to test it.

  • Great video Jack. I am definitely a huge fan of Zoom. My students love the annotations and use them in every online lesson. They help animate the class and annotations are excellent to provide focus.

    My students love using it too. I especially like the link that you create when you schedule a meeting. It’s great for recurring students. One link for all lesson that you ever teach with them.

    I just recently read that Zoom has secured $30 million in funding. It’s good to know that the product is not going to disappear, as there are clearly a lot of investors out there who have high hopes for the product. It’s worth knowing this – as an online teacher not all new apps, products and platforms stay around much longer than the time it takes to learn to use them! I’m glad to know Zoom is here for the long run.

    I realise my comment sounds like I’m on Zoom’s payroll… but I have now used Zoom for well over two years and it has never let me down.I cannot recommend it highly enough, and especially to people where low bandwidth can be an issue for either the teacher or the student.

    • The last point is so important in my opinion: having a platform that works well when someone has low bandwidth is a big selling point. Thanks for the additional comments about the funding; I’m sure they’re really going to push on and become more mainstream over the next couple of years.

    • James,

      The first time I used Zoom was actually when you showed it to me to demo Off2Class. I liked it and I tried it with some students for a few weeks. However, I just can’t walk away from a good “old-fashioned” virtual classroom. I started with Adobe Connect and recently made the switch to Cisco Webex. I really like having chat and a whiteboard in an integrated platform environment. This may just be me, but it also seems more professional to have the class material isolated in an application window rather than a screenshare (um, is that your inbox tab I see?)

      With something like Webex, it still offers the functionality of a screenshare while maintaining the virtual classroom part of it. If Zoom had standardized meeting window, I’d probably like it more.

      • Hi Chris,

        I took some time to hold a WebEx meeting with my colleague. WebEx looks aimed almost solely at the corporate market. I like the layout and functionality very much.

        Since I teach almost exclusively to Young Learners, I feel that Zoom provides exactly the functionality needed. It has enough, without having too many, bells and whistles. I feel that Zoom has been developed with the conference attendee in mind, rather than focusing on the meeting organiser and his or her ability to wow the crowd with a bunch of tools.

        I guess what would be great is to see some development that focuses solely on how online teaching is taking place. Not MOOCs. but one-to-one and smaller classes.

        By the way, how does WebEx operate in lower bandwith? It looks little like WizIQ to me so I’d be worried about using with certain students.

        • James,

          I think it’s our different audiences that are partially determining our software directions. With the exception of one 8 year old in Spain, my students are exclusively professional adults, and I try to market myself to the companies directly. Therefore professionalism (or the appearance of professionalism) is extremely important.

          Every platform has its strengths and weaknesses. I used to use Adobe Connect, and I absolutely loved the fact that I could use a “notes” pod instead of a “chat” pod, which would format text like a word processor to make efficient lists and paragraphs, things that are just not possible in your ordinary “chat box.” However, the audio quality was absolutely terrible, so bad I was using Skype for audio, and that weakness eventually made me swtich to WebEx. So far, WebEx is great, although it does bother me that you can’t see the chat box and the camera feed at the same time — choosing one hides the other, and that doesn’t make intuitive sense to me. Perhaps my ideal classroom has yet to be invented. As far as low-bandwidth is concerned, last week I was having a problem at home and my download speeds were under 10 MB/s. Students reported that my image was not as clear as usual, but I was still able to have class.

          I completely agree with you about focusing on how online teaching is happening. I’m just beginning to reach out to other professionals, and this is something I’ve been lacking. My only sources of teacher community are here, the in-progress WizIQ MOOC, and LinkedIn groups. Those things are good, but I’m definitely still searching for something a bit more personal.

      • eric

        Hi James, hope this find you well

  • Hello, this is Philip and have been teaching English by Skype for over 8 years (http://www.OnlineEnglishTeacher.com) – will be sure to check out this software – I usually use Skype, as it is free and majors on audio + has screen-sharing – also, have you heard about “http://www.Twiddla.com”? It is quite useful for those with low internet connection speeds, although with new software, it might be becoming more redundant. I tend to mostly teach IELTS and have put free IELTS teaching tips online (+ some other areas), if it is useful to anyone: “http://www.onlineenglishteacher.org/en/teachers-teaching-english/teaching-ielts-by-skype” – am reading Jack’s new entries with interest. All the best.

  • Charles Cornelius

    Hi Jack
    Thanks for the article. I’ve just started using Zoom with my students and love it. I need to get my head around a few of the tools still, but it’s pretty easy to use and I love being able to annotate the screen. So far I’ve not had a problem with connections dropping, which was a slight problem with Skype, so Zoom seems able to deal well with low bandwidths – absolutely essential when doing an hour-long lesson.

    The only thing it lacks (unless I’ve missed it) is an interactive whiteboard.

    I think we, as online teachers, need to work with the guys at Zoom to ensure it goes in the right direction, especially as most online teachers teach one-to-one. I’d hate for it to become bloated and bug-ridden, which is what I think has happened to WizIQ.

    • Thanks for the comment Charles. The guys at Zoom like to engage with their users, and would really appreciate your feedback, I’m sure.

  • Hi Jack,

    Great article. We at ESL Tutor – http://esltutor.net – use Skype or Google Hangouts for our lessons, but Zoom might be a better option. I’ll be comparing the pro’s and con’s of each. If you know of such a comparison already made, I’d be glad to check it out.

  • Sharon

    Hello Jack,

    Thank you so much for sharing this article and video about zoom. I’ve just recently used it and I liked it because of easy functionality. Somewhere in the video you mentioned about having tested several platforms and that zoom has a really good connection. I’m curious about what platforms you have used because I would also like to test them too before I require my students to use a new tool. Would appreciate your reply 🙂

    • The other two that I recommend are Skype and Google Hangouts. Thank your for comment, Sharon!

  • Bob Lejkowski

    Hello Jack,
    I discovered Zoom from one of the forums but didn’t know about all of its functions. Thank you very much for this informative video. It seems better than Skype for China!

  • Irina

    Thanks for sharing this with us, Jack! It’s really very helpful. I have a couple of questions to you or other folks who are using Zoom:
    -is it possible to demonstrate video via screenshare function?
    -How does it work with students from China? Skype works like crap.

    • Yes, you can embed video (and control the volume for everyone). And from what I have heard, it works better than Skype in China. If you test it, let me know how it goes.

  • roopa

    I am a budding ESL teacher. As of now, I have only one student. Do you think I could use Zoom for free for this on student and then start paying as my the number of students increase?

    • Yes, of course. It’s free for one-to-one lessons.

  • Jason Watt

    Thanks for the video. I recently purchased Zoom, and am also a WebEx user. I would like to be able to do the following, and I am wondering if anybody has found a workaround:
    -On a PC (not on a tablet)
    -Load a PowerPoint presentation
    -Annotate the presentation with text
    All from inside the webinar.

  • costume

    The site seems to only show paid versions. In the article it indicates that there is a free version available. Can you provide that link?

    • It’s the same link. Check the different options on their site.

  • Diana Yarmolinska

    Thank you for this video!
    I have never used Zoom and actually haven’t heard of it before. I am definitely going to try it out with my students.

  • Andree

    Hello and thank you very much for the information.

    I have just been told about Zoom and before starting using it as a teacher, I want to see what I can do. For instance, I really want to:

    1) Do live classes and want to charge a fee for that.
    2) I also want to make sure I can use the PowerPoint presentations I have prepared for these classes.
    3) I want to see if students can pay via Paypal.
    4) I need to see what I can do with the white board.
    5) Can I create quizzes from Zoom for my students?
    6) Very important… how can I promote my classes?

    Note: I see that the last message here was posted a year ago and this makes me a bit nervous.

  • Tulay Azize Tuncay

    Does zoom offer any teacher tools such as a place to record notes, students photos and profiles, messaging feature between teacher and student, an archive to save recorded lessons for private voive over corrections and feedback?

  • Aliasgar Babat

    Zoom.us is good. Additionally, you may also try tools like on premise R-HUB web video conferencing servers http://www.rhubcom.com for all your online teaching and conferencing needs. It provides a simple and easy to use interface and works on Windows, MAC, iOS, Android etc.

    • dcadogan

      Only 14 days free service after that $395? Mmmm …

  • Raymond Robert Griffin

    Just saw your video. However, I haven’t got connected yet.
    As an Australian teacher teaching Australian students, I feel it is very important that they first source:
    A) Australian material, then possibly;
    B) New Zealand material ( I just thought of it)
    They are our nearest neighbour— NZ education material has a good reputation, then;
    D) United Kingdom material: sociologically, historically and culturally & educationally,
    we have more affinity than with the USA.
    So, when I get organised, I think I would go with Skype.I am just trying to say,
    which I have no idea whether it is USA, or not

    • Why would this stop you from using Zoom?

  • Erin Ahmed

    I teach online using both Zoom and Skype. My students mostly prefer Skype but Zoom has also worked well for me. One problem I have encountered with Zoom is that for some reason, when I used the Share Screen option the students tell me that the sound on their end gets iffy or too low to hear well. Other than that I have had no issues with Zoom. I love all the options it offers.

  • Patricia Jones

    I’ve got a student in China I’m going to be working with. They all use WeChat, but are willing to go with whatever I want to use. How easy will it be for someone in China to use Zoom for lessons? I’m new to online teaching, so it will be a learning experience for me no matter what I use. I’ll be practicing with friends before I start teaching.

  • Sandra King-Gayer

    As always Jack, great information and informative film, I am definitely going to try this out.