An online English language teacher
My name is Mandana Gavahy and I have been a teacher at LSI since 2013. I have recently started teaching online due to the lock-down because of the corona virus pandemic. I really enjoy the multicultural aspect of online teaching and I appreciate having an alternative method of teaching that ensures a safe environment for students to thrive and gain the qualifications they require. I am currently exploring how to provide the same quality in our online classes as we have in our off-line lessons.
Prepared to teach English online
I am well-trained to use Zoom and the techniques that I apply for my online lessons are very similar to the ones I use in face to face classes but with certain advantages. The Zoom breakout room, for example, allows the students to break off into smaller groups and work on their own, with no distractions. I am able to drop in and check on their work and observe them more closely when they are working individually or in pairs. Each student can share their ideas equally, and at the same time no one is missed out. I can record students’ work, take screenshots and give instantaneous feedback. I can note down their errors, in Microsoft Word, chats, share the screen with them or use email, Edmodo or Google docs. I believe that the face to face nature of online teaching helps me to build a greater rapport with my students and interaction between us flows more easily than in the classroom.
How students choose their learning environment
It is really important/helpful to establish students’ needs and learn about their culture in order to most effectively tailor my lesson plans. What I particularly like about online teaching is that it gives me such an interesting insight into my students’ lives e.g. they use background pictures on Zoom that show me how they feel and what their life is like. On the screen, I can see their home environment and this gives me an idea about their interests and hobbies. They even show me what pets they have and tell me what their pets’ names are; they start talking about their pets and sharing their experience with me. The students can choose their own learning environment that works best for them and this helps me to get to know them better which can facilitate the teaching/learning process. Students who might normally be reserved and shy feel emboldened to be more adventurous and proactive and they can talk and share their ideas in chats, rather than on the video/screen until they build up enough confidence to share their ideas more openly with everybody.
Some students might find the technical side of the Zoom/online lessons challenging; however, it is the teacher’s responsibility to help them in overcoming the challenges and very often, other students with good IT skills will assist them or give a workshop about how to use the different features. It is really interesting to see that everybody tries to help each other in online lessons. There is a lot of interaction within the group.
Some of the benefits of teaching English online
I personally find it easier to maintain discipline online as it is easier to monitor and mentor the students at the same time and I find I can complete tasks more efficiently. When students are late to the zoom session there is a function that enables me to place the late student in a ‘waiting room’ and bring them into the lesson at a convenient point. I also like the way students can use different devices to show me their work e.g. by taking pictures of their handwritten notes, and sending them to me during the lectures, via their mobile phones. I can run a writing competition and correct it and watch students working in google docs or private chat rooms, all of which, makes learning both effective and fun.
The environmental benefits of online teaching
I believe there are environmental benefits from online teaching as I can communicate directly without having to print out and distribute materials and not having to travel to and from the workplace saves both time and money on transport and is more environmentally friendly. Working from home means not having to travel in inclement weather and students do not have to stress about getting to class on time.
Learning real-world skills
Online classes help students acquire lifetime skills which can help progress their careers in the future. They become more familiar with Webinar, online conferences, how to create a blog or how to run a workshop. Students can join online classes wherever they find themselves. They could be in their own homes or in the case of one of my students, having to wait 17 hours in an airport at the height of the corona virus pandemic and just longing to get back home.
Mandana’s thoughts for the future
I think that online teaching will become more and more popular in the future and although there will always be a place for traditional classroom teaching, I believe it would be advantageous for all teachers and students to become fully conversant with both face to face and online methods.
You can see a video here by one of Mandana’s Pre-sessional English students
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