As a teacher, you will help shape the minds of many children for a brighter future. Well done! The world needs more people like you. If you’re looking for a transition to purely online working, find out more about teaching English online without a degree with us in this article.
From phonics to reading comprehension, spelling to multi-format writing skills, there are many aspects to consider when teaching English to kids online. Let’s look at some of the key things you can do to make learning accessible and keep your students engaged.
What age are your students?
This is the first thing to consider and will help you to make essential adaptations to your teaching style. Younger learners will enjoy quick 5-10 minute bursts of activity with bright colours, silly games, songs and rhyme along with novelty incentives like on-screen stickers and drawings to help with their shorter attention span.
Those of you with older children might need to adapt by including popular texts for teens, incorporating additional technology such as QR codes, problem-solving games and less of the cute fluffy animals. Whether you have one-to-one lessons or classes with multiple students is also important, and will help you decide how to structure your classes, with breaks for student discussions and paired work.
What are your objectives in each class?
Parents will often know exactly what their child is struggling with so you can hit the ground running, but sometimes you’ll also need to dig a little deeper in the first few sessions to get a better idea of what levels of learning your students hold.
Some parents can put in a lot of extra time to help their kids at home, others don’t have such a luxury. A good idea is to start your first lesson with four segments (spelling, phonics, reading, writing or comprehension, depending on age and ability) with a few short and simple activities to assess your new student’s current level of understanding.
From there, you can start to build a personalised learning plan and work on one specific area each week, or keep your 4-segment format for those younger learners and build on progress each week.
How can teachers boost engagement on-screen?
It can be a tricky topic, with many stating that online learning can be detrimental to students, and there are certainly some things to avoid when teaching online. Too much ‘teacher talk time’ with a lack of student involvement is a key issue, while simply asking children to read out loud without sharing lesson goals or correcting pronunciation is another.
However, the fact is, the online learning industry is well-established, with English teachers in high demand from all corners of the globe. Because of this, online teaching is now regarded as a discipline in itself, with plenty of online schools running their own teacher training in specific techniques for online classrooms.
Particularly for younger or very new English learners, TPR or ‘total physical response’ is a very popular method. Get your Charades hands warmed up, because this method involves action and silliness!
How can we make reading and phonics more fun?
First of all, avoid opening a book and simply asking your students to read, unless it is for a short assessment. This is sin number one in English teaching. Whenever you introduce reading time, it should be for a purpose. This could be learning to read with expression, helping students to locate the text’s setting, characters and plot, or to understand genres and their functions, such as media or story. Make sure you choose a goal for your lesson and plan accordingly around that. Generally speaking, phonics will be for your younger learners, and there are many games online which you can research and share on your screen so your students stay involved and engaged in their learning.
How can we make spelling and writing more exciting?
It’s a fact that many students struggle to spell and write, with verbal language being the first thing they master, even at a basic level. Spellings can come across as boring and rigid, and it’s up to you to break this curse, normally by cutting down on lecture-style teaching, and increasing the amount of time spent in game-like activities.
Examples include beating the timer to find as many examples as possible of particular digraphs on a page of a book, or challenging your students to use alliteration to make their own rhyme. These are all things that increase the attractiveness of writing activities with ease.
So now you’re equipped with a some good foundations for teaching English in exciting ways, it’s time to experiment and increase your own learning by putting these techniques into action in your own classroom. Have fun!