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How to be Successful in Teaching English Online

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Teaching online is the new normal after the Coronavirus lockdown, whether you are a travelling TEFL teacher whose plans for 2020 have been thrown into disarray or, someone who has been keen to sidestep into online teaching for a number of reasons other than Covid.   

Taking TEFL online requires an understanding of some considerations which just don’t apply to face to face in the classroom. These can make or break a successful online TEFL career.  For many TEFL teachers, their focus is often all about how to deliver effective online content but there are other aspects which are less obvious and which are worth considering if you really want to make a success of your digital teaching career.

Be aware of the separate concept of digital literacy

The level of digital literacy is going to vary from student to student based mainly on their age and where they are in the world.  You may find they are much less familiar with online tools or, in the alternative, have a knowledge that far exceeds your own.  It is important not to pitch the digital input from the student too high or you will just ultimately end up in putting them off and losing customers.  It can be easy to get wrapped up in techniques like asking pupils to annotate on the screen, add their own images or upload other things which may simply be beyond them.

Some researchers say that too much emphasis on technology can actually distract from the learning so maybe just introduce one tool and let that bed in before you move onto something else,  Use a demonstration if you think that would help by sharing your screen or pre-recording a short clip.

Always understand what the learners are seeing on their devices; compatibility is important and you also need to make sure students know how to edit, annotate, share and save documents whether they are using a phone, tablet or laptop – never assume knowledge.  If you are pairing students together in an online classroom setting, try and match students who are similarly placed from an IT perspective so that one of the two is not placed at a distinct disadvantage.

Engaging online learners

When you are teaching online, the usual classroom dynamic is missing, this is the time that students would normally chat to each other before and after lessons when they are physically in the same location.  It can be really helpful to foster these social interactions so that the class can relate to one another – learning will be significantly enhanced as a result. Here are some helpful techniques:-

  • Use ice breakers and personalisation tasks to create an online presence for each student – these activities are often used at conferences and conventions where a group of people are introduced to each other for the first time.  This can work equally well online and is probably even more essential to the separation imposed by remote learning
  • Be enthusiastic about your students and the different topics – it can be easy to let the screen become a barrier, work hard to create a real classroom atmosphere
  • Know your students and refer to elements of this knowledge during the tasks and activities on the curriculum – this fosters empathy and inclusiveness
  • Find out what is worrying or concerning your students and address their fears and suggestions positively
  • Give ongoing feedback which is continuous and regular
  • Make space in the sessions for humour and social interaction

Understanding the digital medium

For book purists, a Kindle or indeed any screen will never replace the real thing.  Apart from the feel and scent of a new book, the concept of turning the pages and handling the book is totally different from reading the same words on a screen.  We process the information differently which is why writing and presentation for the internet are completely different from how the same information may be presented in a book, magazine or hard copy document.

Blocks of text will blur the eyes of your students and switch them off.  Keep sections of text and the length of sentences much shorter than you might otherwise.  Introduce varied digital techniques but don’t introduce too many new things at once otherwise it can become muddled and confusing for the students.

Students’ progress needs to be checked more frequently

It is harder to read body language online than when you are sitting in a classroom so remember to check with your pupils how they feel they are progressing and learning.  Concentration also dips faster online than in a real classroom so the structure of lessons may well have to alter to reflect this.  Test learning through fun quizzes which are interactive and break up the teaching sessions.

Feedback methods may need to change to reflect the virtual classroom

The usual cues of body language from the physical classroom are absent in the virtual setting, indicators such as body language or simple gestures.  Feedback in the digital setting can be done collectively and still name individual students or it can be done in private chat messages and groups.  Use video feedback if you are marking assignments rather than necessarily a paper response; this personalises your lessons and invites learners to ask questions, building the dynamic of two-way trust.

Mix synchronous and asynchronous tasks

Synchronous tasks happen within the whole group with the teacher so essentially the online lesson situation whereas asynchronous tasks allow students to work at their own pace either on their own or within small study groups.  Using asynchronous tasks allows learners more time to reflect and prepare.  The concept of the flipped lesson can work really well for digital learning as this combines both synchronous and asynchronous tasks with learners completing individual activities before the synchronous lesson.  This is particularly effective at managing a broad span of learning abilities without some people feeling they are floundering because they lack understanding and speed of learning.

Teaching online successfully involves a holistic understanding of how people learn in the digital environment and the unique challenges and also benefits which this medium presents.   Teaching in the virtual world can bring new and fresh techniques to the online classroom and introduce teachers to innovative new tools which they can make use of in a physical classroom as well as online.

Michelle has been a part of the journey ever since Bigtime Daily started. As a strong learner and passionate writer, she contributes her editing skills for the news agency. She also jots down intellectual pieces from categories such as science and health.

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Lifestyle

Top 6 Investments for Your Child’s Future

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If you’re looking to give your child a head start in life, there’s no better way than investing in their future with some wise choices. From saving for a college education to teaching them the importance of financial literacy, there are plenty of ways to help them gain the skills they need for successful adulthood. Here are six great investments you can make now that will provide dividends in the future:

Financial Literacy 

Financial literacy is a critical skill that will remain valuable for life, and you should start teaching your child as early as possible. Not only can this help them understand basic concepts such as budgeting, saving, and responsible spending habits, but it can also increase their confidence when dealing with their finances. Encourage your children to save a portion of the money they receive, and show them how to make smart investments, such as opening up a savings account.

Positive Role Models 

The people your kids look up greatly influence their lives, especially during their formative years. That’s why it’s crucial to be a good role model and surround them with positive role models who embody values such as honesty, hard work, and integrity which your children can learn from or aspire to emulate. This includes friends, family members, teachers, and mentors. Exposing your children to such people can help them broaden their horizons and see the world differently.

A Good Education 

Investing in your child’s educational journey from elementary school to college will open doors to careers and opportunities they may not have had before. To save your child from the debt  that comes with post-secondary education in Canada, start early and put into an RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan). This is a special type of investment account specifically designed to save for college expenses. It is essential to understand the structure and features of the plan and how it works to maximize your savings.

Quality Family Time

Set aside family time and special activities such as cooking, playing board games, or taking nature walks. This allows your children to bond with each other and explore the world around them. Investing in quality family time will provide endless opportunities for growth, learning, and development, setting your children up for a bright future. Spending time with your little ones will also create lasting memories that will stay with them forever. It will also teach them valuable skills such as communication and conflict resolution. 

Life Insurance 

Investing in life insurance ensures your child’s future financial security. Not only will it protect them in case something unexpected happens, but it can also be used as an investment tool if you opt for the right policy. With the right plan, you can maximize the money your child will receive by providing them with a secure financial future should anything happen to you or your partner.

Mental Health Support 

Life isn’t always easy; sometimes, your kids need extra help navigating life’s journey’s ups and downs. Mental health support takes many forms, from therapy sessions with psychologists or psychiatrists to mindfulness techniques like meditation. Supporting children during difficult times allows them to process emotions more effectively so they are better prepared for adulthood when life throws curveballs. With the rise of mental health issues in today’s society, it is vital to invest in your child’s mental health and ensure they have the right support system.

These are just a few top investments you can make for your child’s future. Whatever strategies you choose, remember that each has its benefits, from immediate gratification to long-term financial security. Investing in your child’s future will give them the skills and resources they need to live a successful, fulfilling life.

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