In recent years, everyone has been affected – directly or not – by the way the world of work has been transformed: from flexibility in the workplace, with hybrid and remote positions, to convenience in services, from booking a taxi to ordering ready meals and groceries.
It’s easy to forget, however, that these innovations would have never been possible without modern technology. Nowadays, technology is at everyone’s fingertips – so much so, in fact, that it’s often taken for granted, mainly by the younger generations who have grown up surrounded by tech. They are the ones who have experienced the impact of a sudden shift from in-person to online learning on a daily basis.
Therefore, the way people learn and teach has changed dramatically since the use of technology has been welcomed in classrooms across the globe. TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) in particular is an industry that has made full use of technology for decades not only in the physical classroom as a tool to facilitate learning, but also as a medium through which lessons can be delivered remotely. As a result, language learning has become more accessible on a wider scale, creating more job opportunities for new and seasoned teachers alike.
Great flexibility is perhaps the main reason why online teaching is such a popular option among those who are seeking an additional source of income or a new career that fits around their busy lives. Teaching English online gives you the opportunity to choose when, where, and how many hours you want to teach, but that’s not all. It allows you to choose which age group (young learners, teenagers, adults) you want to teach and what kind of lessons you want to deliver (conversation classes, exam preparation, general or business English).
Another advantage of online teaching is that it allows you to be your own boss, either setting up your own business from scratch or seeking the help and support of established online language schools.
Established online schools
There are many online schools available, but they have different requirements and offer different perks. Let’s see a few examples:
- Lingoda is a language-teaching/learning platform that provides their teachers with ready-made lessons and a strong support system. For this reason, you aren’t required to have previous teaching experience to teach at Lingoda.
- If you want to dip your toes in online teaching, Cambly can be a good starting point. They focus on conversational English for learners who already have some working knowledge of the language.
- LatinHire specialises in teaching school subjects like Maths, Biology, Marketing, as well as languages to South American learners.
- Topica Native operates across South-East Asia to deliver high quality English lessons via their user-friendly online platform.
If you are considering teaching English online to Chinese learners, bear in mind that in 2021, the Chinese government changed its hiring criteria of international language teachers. Take a look at The Tefl Org guide to find out all there is to know about teaching English in China.
Getting ready for online teaching
Your equipment is at the heart of your business, so you need to choose it carefully. This does not mean, however, that it needs to be expensive. A PC or laptop with lots of storage with a built-in camera and mic is all you need. If you are planning to teach while travelling, invest in a good quality headset, to keep external noise at bay.
Whatever your location, try to dedicate a corner of your room to your screen time. An ideal set up would be a quiet and well-lit area, better if it’s natural light, with a plain background to add language related props, like a phonemic chart, for example.
Let’s face it: using technology in the classroom can be a little daunting. What if the computer crashes? What if the programme doesn’t open? These are legitimate worries for anyone using tech in front of an audience, but they shouldn’t prevent you from giving it a go. After all, what’s the worst that can happen? Chances are, though, that your students would be more than happy (and capable) to help you solve any tech issue you might have!
So, now that you are ready to see how tech can enhance learning in your physical classroom, take a look at these fun and useful tools:
- Create flashcards with Quizlet for students to practise and test their vocabulary.
- Use Kahoot’s game-based quizzes to test students’ knowledge. They’ll love the competitive element!
- Design and complete surveys with Google Forms and Microsoft after a good old mingling activity to collect data.
- Let your students unleash their imagination and creativity with Pixton to create comics and storyboards.
Creating a bond with technology
As a patient and empathetic teacher, it is usually easy to build a good rapport with your learners. On some occasions, however, this can be challenging. If you are teaching teenagers, for example, you might have noticed the unbreakable bond they have with their smartphone – use that to your advantage. Effective lessons that allow students to use some technological device become – somehow – incredibly engaging, keep them focused and help you create a bond that will promote learning. It’s win-win all around.
What’s more, studies have shown that technology in education allows learners to progress at their own pace, reducing the risk of falling behind, and it provides opportunities for collaboration and team-work.
You don’t need to be tech-savvy
Unless you’re a teenager, technology might be intimidating or even overwhelming, at times. After all, it’s all around us. However, there are great advantages to using technology in teaching and learning. Programs and apps are user-friendly and so much fun that you don’t need to be an expert to set them up and use them in your classroom, but that’s not all.
Thanks to technology, you might be about to embark on a new professional journey teaching English online. You could finally achieve that work-life balance you’ve been dreaming about and become your own boss at the same time!
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