How To Be A Good Online English Teacher

Last Updated on August 12, 2023 by Oluwajuwon Alvina

There are many teachers that think that it is easy to be an online teacher. Those teachers are wrong. Online teaching is different from offline teaching; therefore, you should know the experience, students’ psychology and the successful ways of the online teaching first. These best tips will help you to be a good online English teacher for your students.

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How To Be A Good Online English Teacher

Online English Teaching Methods

Have you suddenly found yourself teaching online? You’re certainly not alone. English teachers all around the world are in the same position – and it can be hard to know where to start. More and more, schools are offering blended language and remote teaching options. There are lots of benefits of teaching English online. Firstly, it’s sustainable, saving on transport, travel costs and it reduces the number of printed materials. Secondly, it allows you the flexibility to teach students when you’re away from school and the classroom. So, if you’re faced with a new remote class and you’re not sure how to approach it, follow these six tips and you’ll soon be an online teaching pro.

What do You Need to Teach English Online?

To teach online successfully, you’ll need a secure Internet connection, a Zoom or Skype account, and a TESOL/TEFL certificate. Generally, it’s also important to be a native English speaker. Finally, most important is a friendly, patient, and punctual personality.

How and Why You Should Get a Job Teaching English Online – The Visual  Communication Guy

Like any ESL classroom, your subject matter has a lot of flexibility. You’ll certainly be required to cover the basics: grammar, speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The lack of face-to-face communication means you may need to get more creative in the classroom. There are a number of fun ESL games for english teachers that you can adapt for the online classroom and make your courses more engaging.

1). Find the right technology

If you want to become a great online English teacher, the first thing you’ll need to do is find a reliable online platform or learning management system to help you communicate with your students. The good news is that there are lots of free options available to you.

Platforms for teaching one-to-one classes and small groups

If you are running one-to-one or small group English classes and are mostly focused on conversation, Google Hangouts is an easy-to-use option. It’s free and web-based, which means desktop users do not have to download applications to use it. If you have a Gmail address, you’ll be able to send recurring calendar invitations to your student(s) and they will be able to sign in to the Hangout directly from their email.

Online English Teaching

2). Set expectations for student behavior 

Students may not be used to doing classes online and might see it as an opportunity to relax (a little too much). It is therefore essential you discuss what’s expected of them and what they can expect from you during the online sessions. 

Talk to them about the types of activities they can expect to take part in, how often you’ll be assigning homework and how they’ll be assessed. It’s also a good idea to discuss the advantages of distance learning and address any doubts they might have, especially when it comes to technology. 

Bullying and bad classroom behavior may also be something you have to deal with. Whether you’re teaching children, teenagers, or adults it’s essential that you set out behavioral guidelines before starting a course. For younger learners, this can take the form of a classroom contract.

In this agreement, you should also define what cyberbullying and harassment is, establish rules, and make sure your students agree to treat each other well in forums and chats online. You must also make sure that students feel comfortable to come to you and report anything untoward. Monitor how students are talking to each other and intervene if necessary. 

3). Manage your time carefully

It’s all too easy to fill your schedule with online classes – and then find yourself overloaded and headed for burn out. If you’re not spending time traveling to classes, it may feel easy at first. 

However, you should give yourself enough time to prepare every class and plenty of free time so you can wind down between classes.

Here's why now is a great time to become an online English tutor in China |  Teach Away

4. Don’t cancel classes, or worse, the dreaded no-show 

Since you make your own schedule, most online English companies don’t have much tolerance for missed classes. Of course, emergencies happen – i.e. last week when the internet went down in my entire apartment building and I missed not one but two classes, triggering a mini meltdown that resulted in me softly weeping in the back of a Starbucks – and thankfully you do get some leeway for things out of your control like outages. But if you have too many no-shows/cancellations your contract could be terminated automatically. Even if you are sick, do your best to always be there. Do not. Do not. Sleep through a class. Set nine alarms on every device you own and hide them around your room if you must.

5 Tips to Help You Succeed at Teaching English Online

5. Approach each class with joy 

The reason I like online teaching so much is because it’s purely about the teaching. It is about finding happiness in learning a new skill, personalized student growth, and lightbulb moments. The students are so excited to learn and it is contagious. Plan to approach every class with a fun and happy mindset. While there are sentimental, good mojo reasons to do this, there are also practical ones. When you teach online, you are recorded. With VIPKID, you and the student get a copy of the recording to review later. And you can see everything on that camera. Frustrated? Checking your phone on the side (yes, it’s obvious)? Yawning? It’s there. If you aren’t on your best teacher A-Game, you get a nice little reminder of it that lives on forever. So get a good night’s sleep. Drink a nice cup of coffee. Find a comfortable chair. And of course, have a blast.

how to teach english to beginners online

1. Keep it simple, stupid.

This is the one of the most important steps to teach English to beginners. Many newbie teachers make the mistake of using too much English when giving their students instructions, praise, or other feedback. For instance, saying, “You guys, now we’re going to look at a new structure today so let’s get those textbooks out” in ESL beginner lessons makes you sound like you’re from Mars. 

Instead, say something like this: “Take out your textbooks. Okay?” with an OK sign if it’s culturally appropriate in the country you’re teaching in. Gestures are super important and help beginners better understand even when the classroom English seems clear to you. This tip will save your life if you’re teaching English to complete beginners. 

2. Always check for understanding.

A rookie mistake many persons teaching English to complete beginners make is assuming that the students have understood the lesson or classroom instructions. In your first lesson for beginners, adults or kids, your students may not be accustomed to the Western way of schooling where students raise their hands if they don’t understand. 

Instead, they may be feel embarrassed to admit ignorance in front of the class and prefer to remain silent. When teaching beginners English, you need to read your students’ body language to gauge whether they’ve understood and keep checking whether they’ve understood by asking, “Okay?” Students will let you know directly or subtly whether they’ve got it or not.

3. Give them lots of time to practice.

In ESL beginner lessons, you cannot expect your students to get it immediately. You need to provide lots of examples, check for understanding, and then ensure that your class has enough time to practice what you’ve just taught them. 

When teaching beginners English, this usually means drilling the students (making them listen and repeat the language structure several times after you) and then having them practice it individually or with other students. Make sure to let them know that it’s okay to mess up during practice time so they don’t feel pressured to be perfect on the first try.

4. Show, don’t tell.

One of the steps to teach English to beginners is to show, not tell, in the classroom. Students will better understand what you’re trying to say if you use visual cues rather than spill a lot of words in their direction.

What does this mean exactly? Instead of saying, “Let’s learn the passive tense” practice how to teach basic English by giving clear examples of the target language structure with simple drawings, pictures, short skits, and exaggerated gestures. 

5. Always use positive reinforcement.

Here’s another one of the steps to teach English to beginners. If someone gives an incorrect answer, don’t yell, “You’re wrong!” Never, ever embarrass a student in front of the entire classroom. You’ll scar him or her for life and he or she will hate English forever because of you. Instead, try to create a friendly atmosphere in the classroom by praising your students often, even when they make mistakes. 

For instance, when doing English teaching for beginners, if they get the word right but just mispronounce it, say something like, “Okay, good!” and then repeat the word with the correct pronunciation so that you don’t shame the student and the rest of the class gets to hear the right way to say it. 

6. Don’t be boring.

English teaching for beginners doesn’t have to feel like pulling teeth. Instead, use lots of games to encourage your students to practice and produce the language you’ve taught. Also incorporate your students’ interests so they want to learn! For instance, don’t use Garfield if they love Hello Kitty!

Also, nothing’s more dull that making students read from the textbook and fill in lame worksheets with lots of text and zero images. The sky’s the limit regarding how to teach basic English: trawl the interwebs for awesome ideas that will keep your students engaged throughout the lesson.

 how to be a good online teacher

Teaching Expertise

1. They Have State Certification & Curriculum Expertise

All teachers, whether they’re in an online or in-person environment, should have a state certification that indicates they’re qualified to teach. While state requirements vary, getting a professional teaching certification requires at least a bachelor’s degree and a certificate in the grade and subject areas they plan to teach. Many teachers at Connections Academy® even hold master’s degrees and are experts in their subject area. Whether a student is in elementary school or taking calculus, Connections Academy teachers are exceptionally knowledgeable and ready to deliver an excellent education.

2. They Have Tech Skills

Since classes are taught using the internet, online teachers need to be tech savvy and comfortable with the latest online tools and technology. Using technology regularly in their day-to-day life can help teachers stay up to date with the latest innovations. Teachers may need to help students and parents learn new tools, especially at the beginning of the school year. The main piece of technology online teachers need to learn is their school’s learning management system, or LMS. There are various online tools and education technology platforms that schools use to deliver lessons and communicate with families throughout the year.

Many teachers also use data visualization and analysis programs (e.g., spreadsheets and pivot tables) to track student progress and create data-based personalized learning plans. A good teacher should not only master the basics but be ready to keep learning as technology evolves.

3. They Teach Creatively

In a digital learning environment, teachers who think outside of the box and prioritize creative thinking are well suited to help students succeed. Online learning creates opportunities for teachers to innovate and create engaging learning experiences for their students. It takes creativity, but every type of lesson or class, from science to social studies and physical education, can be taught online in an online curriculum.

Creative uses of online learning technology can even help students retain information more effectively. An online school environment allows for a mix of live virtual instruction, individual assignments, and project-based activities, so students have a chance to try new things regularly.

Strong Communication Skills

4. They Are Welcoming

Online learning may feel new to many students and parents, so building trust and community is key. Teachers who have a knack for friendly, clear communication help students feel supported to succeed. Connections Academy teachers let every student know they belong by building personal connections and a supportive learning environment, starting on the first day of school.

5. They Make Themselves Accessible

A big part of an online teacher’s job is to be available when students have a question or need help. Since classes aren’t held in person, teachers should provide ways to contact them, and respond quickly whenever someone reaches out. Email, video conferencing, and phone calls are some of the tools teachers use to stay connected to their students. A great teacher can usually provide assistance quickly and efficiently since they’re subject matter experts. Some teachers even hold regular office hours for students who need one-on-one help or just want an additional challenge.

6. They Provide Proactive Feedback

Regular and consistent feedback becomes even more important in a virtual classroom. While there may not be tests or quizzes every day, there are many ways for teachers to evaluate student performance and step in before they get behind. Connections Academy teachers check in with students and Learning Coaches regularly to measure progress, anticipate problems, and offer suggestions.

Supportive Personal Qualities

7. They Are Encouraging

The best online teachers make every interaction a positive experience, even from a distance. When students know they have a dedicated and supportive teacher, they’re empowered to try new things, inspired to ask questions, and comfortable seeking help when they need it. At Connections Academy, our teachers get to know every student personally, and they partner with parents to ensure students get what they need. Even if a student is struggling or falling behind, our teachers are there to provide extra support and encouragement to help them stay motivated.

8. They Are Adaptable

Online teachers often need to think fast whenever things don’t go as planned. When the unexpected occurs, like a tech issue or interruption, resourceful teachers quickly adjust their lesson plans and instruction methods, without missing a beat. If a presentation is loading slowly or a video conferencing glitch occurs, online teachers need to have a backup and troubleshooting plan that’s ready to go. Being flexible and personalizing instruction when needed ensures every student can grasp fundamental concepts. Guiding a student through a challenging concept sometimes takes a few tries and different approaches. Teachers can work with students over the phone or use online tools or video conferencing software to ensure any questions get answered.

9. They Teach with Passion

In virtual school, students can feel their teachers’ enthusiasm for the subject matter through every live online lesson and interaction. Excellent online teachers show their enthusiasm by coming up with exciting ways to keep students engaged with the curriculum. At Connections Academy, our teachers are fueled by their passion for teaching, and they go above and beyond to support every student’s unique needs.

What Salary do Online English Teachers Make?

The base pay rate to teach English online is generally not high, but can be increased for teaching specialist English, groups, or getting a high satisfaction rating from students.

Online English teachers can expect to make between $10-$40 per hour, with your experience and qualifications being the major determinative factor in where you fall on this scale. Many companies will offer incentives that can boost your hourly pay if you meet certain conditions over time (such as number of students booked).

Generally, you will be able to set your own hours, which means that you can fit teaching into your schedule. That may mean that you can still find the time to work a part-time job or have other supplemental income.


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