5 Tips to Be a Great Online English Teacher
Updated: Feb 12
It’s no secret, online English learning is growing rapidly. There’s an especially large demand in Asia, where education is prized. With nearly 2 billion people learning English at any given time around the world, there is nowhere near enough teachers to provide in-person lessons.
Companies like Lana Learn are seeking to meet the demand of online English learning. As an online English trainer, you can work with international staff while also engaging in cross-cultural work without leaving the comfort of their own home. To improve your skills and increase review ratings, we’ve compiled the following 5 most important tips to being a great online English teacher:
1. Speak Slowly
Since English is the student’s second language, be sure you begin a course or conversation by speaking slower than you normally would to ensure comprehension. Some teachers try to neutralize any accents they may have in order to present the clearest, cleanest English possible. Consider “internationalizing” your speech, clearly annunciating every syllable and avoiding clichés and colloquialisms. Emulate Hollywood actors who have wide-global appeal, like Merly Streep or Dwayne Johnson, and notice how they generally speak in a clear American accent that people around the world recognize. You can adjust your pace and accent as you get to know the learners and they advance in their learning.
Teaching interactively is critical. Students must actively participate in the lessons, which often requires a lot of prodding from the teachers. Lecturing alone or repetition is not sufficient. Use the whiteboard, screenshare, and other interactive tools of the videoconferencing software to engage the students. Find creative ways to engage your classes, from open-ended questions to games to quizzes. Conversations and small talk throughout a lesson can improve engagement and the learning experience. Attempt to get the student to speak more than you. For example, instead of reading a passage, ask the learners to speak instead. Since the instructor is not physically in the same room as students, be sure to pause frequently and ask the students if they have questions and understand the vocabulary, and use other prompts to ensure engagement.
3. Be Energetic
The more energy you bring as teacher, the better the student will learn. When teaching online, the students (and sometimes teachers’) attention spans are much shorter. In addition to interactive teaching mentioned above, you’ll need to bring passion and excitement to the lessons. Smile a lot, make them laugh, gesticulate, and provide regular positive feedback: “That’s it, great job!” Use photos videos, and visual aids to add color and diversity to the lessons. Being energetic can be a challenge when the time zones are flipped with Asian students, when one of you may have just woken up early in the morning, but the results are worth it. Energized lessons will be more effective and enjoyable for both teacher and student.
4. Find your Niche
Many online English teaching companies seek generalists to teach young children, but a rapidly growing segment of the industry is targeting more specialized English. For example, there has been a recent spike in the demand for business English among emerging markets, from hospitality to software sectors. You will significantly increase the likelihood of your success as an online English teacher if you identify subjects within English in which you specialize. Be sure your online profile stands out. Emphasize your experience, academic background, and subject specialties. The description of you and your services is your opportunity to humble brag. The better you sound, the more students you’ll find, and the better success you’ll have.
5. Provide Feedback
In addition to active feedback throughout the lesson, be sure to write up and send a brief summary to the student and the company about how the class went. The 1-2 paragraph summation is critical for the student’s learning experience and serves as a reminder about what was taught during the lesson. Be sure to take notes throughout the lesson. You can type them as you go or even write them out on your desk long hand. In the written summary, use the students’ names to demonstrate that the feedback is personalized and not just a form letter. Feel free to compliment the student’s progress, but also be sure to include areas for improvement. Constructive criticism is essential to the learning process.
About Lana Learn
Lana Learn is a premier global online English language training platform that advances workplace skills and enhances cross-cultural understanding. Led by U.S. instructors and powered by data-driven marketplace matching and videoconferencing technology, Lana Learn offers the world's most effective online English program. Lana Learn launched in Asia in October 2019. To learn more about Lana Learn’s hiring process, click here.