Teach English in Baoshi Zhen - Xing'an Meng — Hinggan

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The proliferation of the internet and the personal computer has great implications for education. Online ESL is a fast-growing segment of the ESL market. This new mode of teaching has changed the teaching methods, materials and the relationship between student and teacher. It has also radically increased the ability for language learners to get their individual needs met with freelance and specialised websites matching teachers with students. As in every industry, the internet has outpaced the institutions ability to evolve and has really disrupted business for traditional gatekeepers of information. Online education removes the necessity of having a fixed location where the students and teacher must meet. This radically increases the coverage that an English course can have. Students in previously inaccessible or remote locations can have exposure to a real native English speaker. Conversely, the teacher does not need to move to the target ESL market country and can be location independent. The increased availability of both potential students of English and of teachers of English increases the world market for ESL. As well as spatial coverage increasing, adult learners will find it easier to get online ESL lessons because they are made available outside the traditional school setting. This increases the variety of English lesson types. ESL teacher may find themselves teaching students more for business, job training or general interest then for sitting exams, as is the focus in traditional school settings. The versatility of computers and huge access to information provided by the internet means that a lot more teaching material is available in the ESL setting. Teachers can source most of, if not all their material from the internet and present ESL material in novel ways, which has the benefit of keeping students interested and engaged. Not having to stick to set textbooks means teacher can tailor the material to the students needs, weather that be for their specific culture or the context for which they will be using English. China which is by far the world largest ESL market does not have free access to the internet, which severely handicaps the ability of Chinese students to consume native content. This has been circumvented by online ESL classes which give Chinese students the direct exposure which is so beneficial to proper pronunciation and subtle understanding. This partially explains the explosion in online ESL tutor apps and websites in China. The presence of online ESL increases the ratio of teachers to students. The very limited number of people who can teach English has been greatly increased by online platforms, while the vast number of people who aspire to speak English remains enormous. This should in theory drive down the cost to the students. It also means that students will have more opportunities to get one on one attention from a teacher. The activities in an online lesson are limited by the absence of a physical teacher but enhanced by the individualized attention that the teacher can give a student. A student may be able to reach a specific vocabulary goal faster because the teacher can focus more on their particular needs. Many ESL students lament that they have excellent reading and writing in English but that they are never able to master speaking. The easy access to a native speaker means students can relay less on text to learn English and master the spoken language faster. While online education makes much in ESL easier and faster, it presents some novel challenges. The absence of a physical teacher can make it easier for students to cheat on evaluations or avoid assignments. Conversely, the teacher may not understand the context in which the students are learning because they have not physically experienced the learning setting and the cultural realities of the students. Teachers will have to work harder to understand the lives of their students and may struggle to motivate students. Ultimately, online ESL requires good internet speed and coverage which still doesn’t exist in some parts of the world. It also requires digital literacy on the part of the teachers and students. In the future, teachers may be required to have additional IT skills if they want to remain competitive. Automated systems are also likely to take over some parts of the teaching job. For example, marking evaluations can be done automatically if the answers are multiple choice. Teachers could find more time to focus on the interactive and creative side of language learning. Online teachers also have different working environments than in-school teachers. Their curriculum may be set by an online education institution or be tailor made if they are freelancing. Online teachers must be self motivated in the absence of colleagues and set schedules. Changing technology will continue to force schools and teachers to upgrade their skill set and be vigilant for emerging opportunities and challenges in the online ESL market.