Teach English in Zhendong Zhen - Yancheng Shi

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With the development of computers and smartphones more and more adult ESL students are choosing 1-1 lessons online. These lessons are different from offline ones because the teacher is physically far from the student and can only use digital teaching materials. That is why it is essential to understand how to teach English within these conditions. There are a lot of things in offline teaching that need to stay online as well. Firstly, the ESA methodology should keep being used. Depending on the goals and the length of the lesson the teacher can choose ‘Straight Arrow’, ‘Boomerang’ or ‘Patchwork’ type of lesson structure. In Russia, most of the online lessons last sixty minutes, that is why mostly patchwork structure is being used. It is important to bear in mind that individual students tend to get through the prepared materials more quickly than groups, so it is important to over-prepare and to include various activities into the lesson. It will be useful to have a couple of materials for extra Engage and Activate phases at hand. Here are some of the ideas: 1.‘True-True-False’ game. Prepare three facts about yourself in advance and tell them. Two of the facts should be true and one should be false. Tell the student to guess a false one. Then switch the roles. Now, the student needs to prepare three facts about himself and you need to guess which one is false. 2.‘Tell me about…’ Prepare a list of personal topics and find an online number generator. Share the screen with your student. Start the generator. The student should tell you about the topic under the number that the generator shows. Of course, a lot of other speaking games can also be used like famous "Never have I ever..." and "Yes-no riddles". Secondly, the teacher’s looks still matter. The teacher should make sure that he looks professionally and does not appear on the camera in pyjamas. The background should also look clean and tidy. That will keep the student concentrated on the lesson. Thirdly, like in offline lesson, it is essential to find out the student’s specific language problems, his language needs and personal interests. Using this information the teacher can make the lessons productive and engaging. Though online lessons have so many things in common with offline lessons (much more than I have mentioned above), the online format brings new possibilities to teaching. Firstly, the teacher can consider the benefits of modern technologies regarding homework. He can ask the student to practice reading the text and to record his final reading in an audio message or even make a selfie-video and send it to him. The teacher can provide his feedback in an audio message as well. Secondly, the teacher can prepare a lot of audio and visual materials. It can be a presentation, pictures and picture-exercises, links to YouTube videos, songs or podcasts, screenshots of authentic articles from online English magazines, newspapers and blogs. During the lesson, the teacher may even go to the website itself while sharing a screen with his student. Here are some ideas of how these materials can be used in an online lesson: 1.‘Guess a song title!’ Pick one of the vocabulary items that you are going to teach your student. For example, it is an idiom ‘blessing in disguise’. Search for the song with such a name (you will find out that there is plenty of them) and pick the one you like. Find the lyrics and save it in the text file as well. Firstly, give the student to listen to a song and figure out the name of the song himself. Secondly, show him the lyrics and listen to the song one more time. Then, discuss why the song has been named this way. 2. Show your student a famous music video or a funny short video on a topic of the lesson. Ask the student what he thinks about it and why. Basically, you can show your student any authentic material online and initiate a discussion. Finally, online lessons bring more interaction between the student and the teacher. It results in increased student’s talking time. While during the offline lesson the student can use non-verbal gestures like nodding, shrugging or smiling to express himself, in an online lesson in the same situation he has to use words. In conclusion, teaching English online might seem tricky at first, but in reality, it follows most of the offline teaching rules and provides a lot of opportunities for the teacher and for the student.