What is different between studying English online or in a classroom?

students studying English online

Online English Study versus Traditional Study

In the last few months, online English language study has become incredibly popular. As a result, LSI Portsmouth has launched its own online English language courses which are receiving great reviews! The lessons are not only fun and engaging, but educational and practical too.

Ross and Adam on online English courses versus traditional study

I managed to find time to catch up with Ross on the topic of online English language courses. You can see the full video interview below, or you can click the summary button below to read a summary of our conversation on this topic.

Are you thinking of studying on one of LSI Portsmouth’s online English language courses? Or would you like to know more about how the online classes work?

If you would like to see the summary of the conversation between Ross and Adam, see below.


students learning about the difference online and offline study of English

Summary of the differences between online English learning and traditional study

How does LSI Portsmouth ensure high-quality online English language courses?

Ross makes a list of points which help to make sure that LSI Portsmouth’s online lessons are of the best possible quality and comparable to the quality of the physical classroom. Those points include:

  • The online courses use exactly the same teachers who deliver the face-to-face lessons.
  • All the teachers are well-trained to deliver online classes.
  • The techniques applied in the face to face courses are the same as the online ones.
  • Directors can observe and drop into lessons to check quality
  • Lessons can be recorded
  • teachers get together for regular workshops on online teaching.

Adam adds that teaching online makes it easier to have a record of the lesson:

  • Slides
  • Recordings

These can be sent out to students after the lesson has finished.

How does online study compare with physical face-to-face study?

Ross explains that LSI Portsmouth aims to create lessons which are virtually the same online as face-to-face. The classes still consist of students from all over the world, therefore there are the same intercultural exchanges happening in the online classes as happen at LSI Portsmouth.The online lessons have the same LSI Portsmouth principles: They are as communicative as possible. The lessons are organised to maximize interaction between students and each other and the students and their teacher. Zoom’s breakout rooms are used for pair-work and group work, Ross adds that whenever he has monitored students in these groups/pairs, he finds they are always focused and on task.

Adam adds that he often has lunch with the teachers and that some of the teachers have told him that they actually prefer teaching online.

How is online teaching better than face-to-face teaching?

Ross himself has been teaching online and speaks from his experience. He has discovered that monitoring for errors and upgrades is easier done online by dropping into breakout rooms and listening to the students speaking. In a classroom there could be 10 voices in your ears at the same time which can be distracting.

On the topic of error correction and upgrading language, Ross says that he makes the most of the digital environment by using WordPad to note down student errors in real-time, then share his screen with students to give them feedback. Ross also e-mails students a copy of this work after class so that they also have a record.

Adam agrees that keeping a record of errors in a classroom and transferring those errors to a whiteboard can be time consuming and the new method is more efficient.

What are the downsides of online lessons?

Ross says that it is difficult to answer this question as the classes are working well. Perhaps students coming late can be difficult, but that this also happens in face-to-face classes, furthermore, with online Zoom classes, teachers can keep student in a waiting room so they join at an appropriate moment for the class. Ross then asks Adam if he can think of any issues with online classes.

Adam thinks that the technology side of online lessons can be a bit scary for students, especially students who are not technologically minded. However, he says that he thinks the teaching side of the lesson is so much more important that the technology side of things. Adam always tells his students all they need for their online lesson is a piece of paper and a pen because the lesson will not be too technologically challenging, the teaching is more important.

Ross agrees and adds that there is an ‘LSI Portsmouth Zoom induction video’ for any new students and that the process of joining the online lessons is very straightforward.

Any technical issues are usually the same ones, so it is easy to guide the students to overcome them.

The zoom induction video is included here. In addition, Adam says that the teacher is responsible for guiding the student through the lesson.

What do you enjoy about teaching online?

Ross says that like everyone else in the world, we are all stuck at home in our rooms. Ross is a sociable guy and misses social interaction. He says that the reason he became a teacher in the first place was because he enjoys finding out about students’ lives and cultures, this is something he has been missing. It’s been really good to have that interaction back and he can see that students feel the same way, to be talking with the teacher and with each other.

Ross adds that is is quite a thrill to have one student in Saudi Arabia, another in Japan, another in France and they are all having a chat about what life is like in their countries. Ross also likes that you can see a little bit of people’s houses so you get an insight into someone else on the other side of the world’s culture.

Adam agrees and says that he loves how these lessons can bring people together from all over the world. He says that all of this can also be done from the comfort of the students’ homes, the students can sit there with a cup of tea or coffee and be relaxed and comfortable in their own home.

Ross says that he has noticed that because his students are relaxed and comfortable, they are less self-conscious, they are braver at practicing English because they feel on the one hand that they are by themselves (because in a way they are, except for their headsets and computer screen), the students are less shy and much more prepared to make mistakes.

Have any pets appeared in your classes?

Adam asks Ross if he has seen any pets in his lessons, Adam has had pets appear in quite a few of his classes as they visit their owners (the students). Something which would never happen in a face-to-face class!

Ross says that he has had his children pop into the lesson to give him a cup of tea and say hello to the students, the children have then joined in the lesson as speaking practice for Elementary students.

Did you know we have an online social programme?

We are currently offering a free online social programme for LSI Portsmouth students old and new! This last week it has included a virtual safari, pub quiz, and salsa class! Join us on social media and join the fun!

Example of our online social programme:

our online English programme

Next step…

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English language teacher gives online lesson