Engaging Students – online teaching

Hello everyone and welcome back ðŸ™‚

As an online English teacher, your classroom is very small. The students can only see your face, hand gestures and the wall behind you. So, use these to your advantage! I have taught English online for 6 and a half months now and I use the following techniques to keep students motivated, make them laugh and also consistently receive high ratings.

TPR

  • Facial expressions and body language are essential when teaching online. Using your hands to give instructions and elicit responses from the student is called TPR (total physical response). This is the best way to communicate with a low-level student who cannot understand your wordy instructions. 
  • Teach a variety of vocabulary through TPR such as ‘stand, sit, jump, happy, sad, cry, apple, cat and dog.’ Instruct students through TPR – cup your hand behind your ear for ‘listen’ and point to your mouth for ‘repeat.’ All online English companies will want their teachers using TPR as much as possible.

Props

  • Props such as puppets, flashcards, stuffed animals, a whiteboard, plastic fruits and plastic animals are an excellent way to keep students engaged throughout the session – especially young learners who will be way more interested in your tiger puppet than you! 
  • Use props to teach vocabulary or demonstrate a dialogue between yourself and a puppet for the student to see and then replicate themselves.

Extended questions

  • Occasionally, lesson material can be too short to fill the full lesson time. As the teacher, you need to ask extended questions beyond the lesson material to not only fill the time, but also keep the students’ interest.
  • Props massively help with asking extended questions if the lesson material is too short or if you have spare time at the end. I have four go-to puppets: a tiger, an elephant, a giraffe and a monkey. I often ask young learners, ‘What is this?’ ‘What colour is a tiger?’ There is also the feature on iTutorGroup classrooms to enable animal sounds, so I often play the cow, cat or dog and ask students to guess the animal. This can also lead to ‘Do you have a dog?’ ‘Is your dog big or small?’ ‘What’s your favourite animal?’
  • Extended questions are important for higher level students to encourage them to expand on their opinions and ideas.

Create a connection

  • Personalising a lesson can make the student not just learn something new, but enable them to remember it afterwards as well. The student will associate your fun teaching with a positive learning experience and be more likely to not only come back to you for more classes, but also remember your content. Building connections with students every single lesson is important to make a student feel comfortable and confident to practice speaking and make mistakes. 
  • Achieve this through asking extended questions about the student’s hobbies. I always do this during the 3-5 minute warm-up of the lesson in which I’ll discover what the student’s favourite sport is or if they have a pet etc.

A creative backdrop

  • As I said, your classroom is so small that you have to make the most of it. If your company allows you to do so, then create a fun, colourful backdrop to your sessions. Have educational posters, and fun props or reward systems behind you which you can easily access.

These are my top tips to help you engage students throughout sessions. A happy student helps make a happy teacher, and this will only reward you in the long-run when the student keeps coming back to you for classes, and leaves you high ratings!