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[GUEST POST] 6 Tips to be an Effective Online English Teacher


Don’t forget to go over your online lesson materials, which may include real-time interactive quizzes that you should know how to operate during the lesson. Knowing how to use your online teaching tools and materials beforehand will allow you to be an effective online English teacher.


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The new circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the demand for online English teachers. As schools are closing all over the world, many parents are turning to online teaching platforms to continue their children’s education.

51Talk Founder and Chief Executive Officer Jack Huang says the massive demand for English instructors in China means the company will need to hire 30,000 online teachers in the Philippines by the end of the year. This upsurge in demand is also felt in other parts of the globe.

However, for educators, the world of online teaching is starkly different from the physical classroom setting. For one, teachers and students must both have basic computer literacy to efficiently navigate the online teaching platform or present the digital material.

As a teacher, you will have to pick up new strategies and techniques appropriate to the technology. This includes learning how to use online communication tools and teaching aides, as well as knowing how to keep your student engaged throughout the online lesson.

While this is a relatively new setup especially for teachers accustomed to teaching in the physical classroom, know and remember that you are not alone and that everything can be learned. 

To be an effective online English teacher, here are 6 simple tips that you can follow as proven and tested by 51Talk.



Tip #1 to be an Effective Online English Teacher: Know and understand the technology and materials you will use

Familiarize yourself with the platform that you will be using before you start teaching. Usually, online English companies use their own software and apps for teaching students, so it’s important to master these before anything else. Additionally, telecommunication apps such as Skype and Zoom are commonly used in online teaching, so it’s best to also be familiar with using these.

Aside from this, don’t forget to go over your online lesson materials, which may include real-time interactive quizzes that you should know how to operate during the lesson. Knowing how to use your online teaching tools and materials beforehand will allow you to teach your lesson effectively and efficiently.


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Tip #2 to be an Effective Online English Teacher: Invest in good equipment: a fast Internet connection, a good webcam, mic, and headset


A reliable laptop or computer, a fast Internet connection, and a good headset with mic are essential in teaching ESL/EFL online.


You want to make sure that your lesson will go uninterrupted and that your students can see and hear you clearly. 

A good online teaching setup normally includes the following: a fast and reliable computer or laptop with an HD webcam, an Internet connection of at least 3 Mbps, and a headset with a microphone, ideally with a noise-canceling feature.

This setup is a minimum requirement when you teach ESL or EFL online to ensure that your lessons are clear and hassle-free for both you and the student.


Tip #3 to be an Effective Online English Teacher: Create the right atmosphere for your online lesson 

The most common setup in online English teaching is one-on-one, which allows you to give your undivided attention to your student. To make your instruction more effective, choose a place with the least distractions for you to hold your online lesson. 

Make sure the place is quiet and well-lit. Position your work area in or near the brightest parts in your room so that your face can be clearly seen during the video call. Furthermore, avoid setting your workspace by the windows or doors to prevent any outside noise from distracting your student.

Finally, check if your background is free from any clutter or distractions. Even if you are working in the comfort of your home, your background should still look professional. A tidy area against a plain white background is the standard when teaching online. If it’s allowed to have teaching aids visible in your background, make sure that the materials are properly organized.

Keep in mind that the fewer visuals you have on screen, the less distraction there is for the online learner.


Tip #4 to be an Effective Online English Teacher: Use visual aids or props


use age-appropriate puppets and props to help contextualize ESL/EFL learning


Especially when teaching English as a foreign language, it may be helpful to use objects or props to help your student understand a word or concept better. For example, you may use puppets to engage your student and help them learn a word, or you may show pictures of objects with their names below. Visual aids such as these are useful when teaching and learning a foreign language as these help students easily associate objects with their names. Consequently, this improves the retention of what they’re learning each session.

Aside from props, using colorful stickers as a reward system is a fun and positive way to encourage your learners to participate. 

Applying these teaching techniques using visual aids will support your student’s learning.


Tip #5 to be an Effective Online English Teacher: Remember to manage your time carefully


Use a timetable or diary app to help manage your teaching schedule


Teaching online gives you a flexible work schedule. However, be careful not to overload your time with too many online lessons as you also need enough time to prepare for every lesson. Conversely, don’t slack off and be over-relaxed when teaching. Make sure to start and finish your lessons on time and give enough allowance for you to take a quick break before your next student.

The key to managing your schedule lies in balancing the number of your lessons and breaks. Maximize the flexibility you have with online teaching to create an efficient daily teaching schedule that fits your lifestyle.


Tip #6 to be an Effective Online English Teacher: Reflect on your teaching

There will always be room for improvement when it comes to your English proficiency and grammar knowledge as well as your attitude and practices as an online teacher. Considering this, you should regularly think about how you can improve yourself and the way you teach.

For example, avoiding procrastination when studying your material will help you master your lesson so you can teach flawlessly during your online lesson. Using new teaching aids and coming up with more creative reward systems are also worth trying. 

As your students continue to learn and grow through your guidance, you should also strive to improve your skills and knowledge to keep up the quality of education you give them.


So, what’s next?

An effective online English teacher is someone who constantly tries to improve his/her teaching in any way possible. Even in these trying times, there’s a plethora of helpful resources and support that you can find on the Internet.

Free online classes can be found on popular learning platforms such as LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, and FutureLearn. Some courses even come with certificates at the end. Aside from helping you keep your skills sharp, these platforms also allow you to connect with other online English teachers who you can learn from and grow with.It is indeed an amazing opportunity to teach online and get paid in the comfort of your home.

However, one famous movie line is a good reminder for every one of us right now: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

If you have decided to start your journey to become an online English teacher, you have the responsibility of continuously upgrading your skills to provide high quality education to your students. Always remember that learning is a lifelong process, even for educators like you!


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