Just like other professions, language teaching has changed with the times. It has not only shifted to a communicative approach, but the method of instruction is now heavily dependent on digital means given the limitations of the pandemic on face-to-face instruction. And with the industry for teaching English expected to grow by $6.04 billion in 2025, being flexible with your teaching skills is necessary to teach it successfully in a changing world. This poses a great challenge for instructors teaching English as a second language (ESL) as they learn the digital skills needed to deliver lessons to their students. Here are some of the skills one will need to succeed as an online ESL teacher:
Give Proactive Feedback
Learning English as a second language can certainly be a struggle, so it’s essential to provide students with feedback to help them improve. It is ideal to provide proactive feedback that gives students the opportunity to take charge of their learning rather than reactive feedback, which is more focused on correcting mistakes that have already happened.
There are several ways to do this. Start by creating a safe environment where students understand that they aren’t in trouble; some may feel scared about not grasping a lesson or for making a mistake. It’s also important to use constructive language and to be encouraging with your feedback. Allow your students to navigate the new language by asking guiding questions, and then check for understanding afterwards to ensure that they’ve grasped new concepts before moving onto the next step.
Find Creative Uses for Mediums
Today’s resources have made it possible for language learning to happen even within the limitations of the pandemic. There are various mediums that ESL teachers can use online, and choosing the right one can make a lesson all the more effective. As tech and business writer Daniel Ling points out, educators are beginning to adopt new technologies in their lessons. These include tools like VR training and interactive digital courses. Not only do they make lessons more effective, but they also introduce the value of digital literacy to students, making them more world-ready no matter which area of study and line of work they pursue.
Since it can be challenging to mimic the effectiveness of in-person interactions, ESL teachers are also tasked with finding more creative ways to engage students. This is vital considering the effects of video conferencing exhaustion, as explained by a CNBC feature. By keeping lessons short, fun, and straightforward, one can prevent fatigue resulting from extended sitting in front of a screen to be a more successful ESL teacher.
Learn How to Use Different Platforms
Virtual learning differs vastly from in-classroom teaching experiences. While the former can be more challenging, it also allows teachers to be flexible and meet students where they are. Thus, mastering different online learning platforms is an essential skill that ESL teachers need to learn. Whether it’s using Zoom, Google Classroom, or even channels like Discord, language teachers need to familiarise themselves with various platforms to effectively communicate with their students.
Start by choosing the platform you’re most comfortable with. At the very least, it should have screen-sharing capabilities so that students can follow along with the English lesson, but there are other features you can consider for more effective delivery. For instance, some platforms have features like breakout rooms so your students can have smaller and more focused group discussions. Find what works for you and your class, and stick with it!
Part of being a successful online ESL teacher is creating a proper classroom environment, as discussed in our feature on Etiquette in the Virtual Classroom or Meeting Room. This, along with the digital skills listed above, will help you get your students reading, writing, and speaking English more confidently.
Written exclusively for Destinationtefl.com
by Audrey Collins