Teach English in QingshAnquan Zhen - Xuzhou Shi

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Online teaching and learning have become increasingly popular due to the global reach that the Internet has. Updates in recent years to technology with regard to webcams and mics as teaching tools, as well as easier payment methods such as PayPal, have made online teaching from home incredibly convenient for teacher and students alike. Lessons can be held at the most appropriate time for both parties and many additional costs are worked around through the use of teaching and learning online. There are, however, key differences in teaching a physical class versus an online class, especially when the subject is a new language. Teaching a new language requires direct input from the teacher and direct output from the student. Courses that do not concern learning a new language, such as a course on Screenwriting or Mathematics, can be predominantly taught through the sole use of written materials and does not necessarily require the presence of the teacher for the most part. Teaching language, and in this case English, is, therefore, more complicated and intricate to teach via a camera, and care should be taken when considering the layout of lessons online. This essay will explore how physical teaching and the elements of the TEFL ESA system can be adjusted to an online teaching environment, considerations the teacher will need to make, and materials that can be used during lessons, testing, and evaluation. The fundamentals of teaching a physical class, as demonstrated throughout the TEFL course, involves a large amount of body language between the students and the teachers. Body language from the teacher has a large and vital impact on the effectiveness of the students’ learning experience as well as influences the students’ motivation and dedication to learning the language. Similarly, a teacher can learn a lot about a student and what they respond well to by observing their own body language. If the teacher is not familiar with the students’ native language, then body language can be the only common ground in understanding each other. An example of body language would be eye contact. Teachers use eye contact to keep the class and individual students engaged and to make sure students are paying attention and participating in the lesson. If one were to take this element of body language only, it is clear why teaching a new language cannot be done solely through written material. The teacher needs to see and monitor the students’ progress and their understanding of the concepts being taught. This can be done through drilling and repetition, and the only way for the teacher to know if progress is being made is if the teacher can see the student responding, as well as hear their progress. This brings us to another factor of the physical part of teaching and learning, which is the students’ talk time within the lesson. The teacher’s presence becomes particularly important if they are teaching an individual student and not a large class, however, this will be addressed later in the essay. These elements need to be conveyed between student and teacher, and therefore the camera is a fundamental medium within a lesson. Teaching through a camera can be very different from teaching a physical class, and so the teacher needs to be prepared for the possible issues that face the online teacher that a physical teacher would not need to face. The first elements are the quality of sound and image, as these should be as clear as possible. When communicating in the language being taught, inadequate sound quality can hinder the student’s experience and produce inaccurate results. These should be the first priority of the online teacher, as these are the only mediums the teacher has through which the all-important body language can be communicated. These are also the mediums through which the ESA teaching system can be put into practice. Camera quality will determine the extent and accuracy with which the physical teaching mediums, such as images and objects, are conveyed to the student during the Engage phase of the lesson. A white or blackboard can still be used by the online teacher, however, once again, these can only be utilized if the camera quality is of a high standard and the student can clearly see what is being demonstrated. During the activate phase of the ESA lesson, the teacher will need a high quality of sound feedback from the student if the student is presenting spoken material or demonstrating spoken use of the language. As previously mentioned, online English teaching cannot solely be done through written material, however, written material is still an essential part of the students’ learning experience. This is particularly important during the study phase of an ESA lesson where materials such as worksheets are completed. This element of online teaching is perhaps the easiest to overcome as many programs and platforms exist on the internet for the transfer and sharing of information. One example of this is Dropbox where information and documents can be shared and viewed immediately by both or multiple parties. A platform like this will be essential for the teacher to provide material for the students, from written material such as worksheets, or written work from the students, to audio material for the students to listen to or watch. This can be seen as the virtual classroom for the teacher to reach the students with physical work, and furthermore can be the virtual testing and evaluation platform for written work. Students can also receive written feedback from the teacher through a platform like Dropbox, however, email or a more personal form of communication may be better for personal feedback. In a physical classroom speaking to an individual student isn’t difficult by asking them to stay behind in class or speaking to them quietly, separately from the rest of the classroom, however, this is not possible when teaching a large online class, or an online class that consists of more than one student. In this case, the teacher will have to either communicate via email with the student or organize individual video feedback sessions with the students. Teaching one on one is likely far easier in the online teaching environment, however teaching a group of students is still possible with the method of feedback mentioned above. It may be difficult to teach exceptionally large classes, for example, classes of more than five or six students, due to the element of discipline and being able to monitor the progress of all students from the teacher’s virtual seat, and only point of view. Larger classes may need to be split up into smaller groups and separate time slots. Teaching online can definitely be adjusted from physical teaching with some minor changes and the willingness of both the student and the teacher to achieve success. With the right tools and materials, an ESA lesson can easily be given through a camera, and appropriate evaluation and testing can be carried out to both large and individual classes.