The teaching of English online can sometimes present some limitations to face teaching, but, without a doubt, it has many advantages for both teachers and students.
Virtual educational environments offer both students and teachers the opportunity to connect from anywhere and at any time. It allows students to work at their own pace and overcome shyness on those occasions when they do not feel very comfortable when they have to carry out activities that require interaction and that are not exempt from the pressure produced by immediacy.
Additionally, online teaching can significantly reduce the effect anxiety has on students throughout the learning process. On the other hand, in those classes in which we have different competency levels, teachers tend to be caught up in the difficulty of managing them, given the difficulty of providing activities for each of the levels and each of the learning styles.
Even so, online teaching allows the design of activities that can have different performances or different worksheets for the same task, so that the needs of students with different levels of Competence can be satisfied.
Keys to teaching English online
The three key elements for successful online teaching in the four English skills are planning, developing student autonomy, and staying motivated. Distance learning implies the use of the Internet as a fundamental resource. However, finding suitable materials can become a constant waste of time if you have not established the criteria that we must take into account beforehand.
Planning will, therefore, be essential for both teachers and students. A weekly calendar with clear instructions and due dates will allow students to take responsibility and take charge of their learning. The calendar can include a certain number of sections, such as live classes, activities (divided into reading, writing, listening, and speaking), grammar, vocabulary, and a checklist to check learning, among others.
The use of learning portfolios within the assessment will motivate students to be autonomous, especially if we have allowed them to select any of the topics that are also part of their centers of interest. Boredom is always associated with low autonomy.
The types of Reading activities that are often used in online teaching do not differ much from those used in face-to-face settings. In online teaching, we can use a wide range of texts: from blog entries or travel brochures to poems and fictional stories, which are not always found in traditional textbooks.
Writing a short story is an example of an independent activity in which students can write imaginatively and express their feelings and ideas creatively. As a starting point, the teacher can provide you with some pictures of just the story’s first line.
The key point in teaching Listening in virtual environments is the possibility of using videos instead of audios: fragments of television programs, news clips, documentaries, films, or animations that will provide an exposure to real situations and a language alive, which is difficult to find in the Listening activities provided by traditional textbooks.
Speak clearly and use gestures and facial expressions. Use different designs, interact with your students; you can even allow them to interact with each other. In an activity that involves interaction between students, students can choose a topic related to their interests and work on designing a television commercial that is somewhat focused on the proposed topic.