Hello dear VERBLING members, how are you doing today? I hope you’re doing great. I’m writing this article because of two reasons:
- I’d like to answer you on this question and to share my thoughts with you.
- Because I was asked: “Hey, you work from home. What kind of activities should you do to prepare yourself for the lesson?”
Just like times change, everything changes too. That means that in nowadays, we have IT technology and it automatically means that everything is modernized: paying, learning, working, etc. It saves our time and like many people say: “Time is money”. What are the differences between traditional and online learning?
- In a traditional way of learning you should go to some institute (school, university, language school, etc.) and you have a group of people who also take lessons just like you. Then, the teacher must follow the program (that he/she received in advance), so everything is “standard” and there’s not much space for “flexibility”. On the other hand, with online classes, the lessons are personalized for each student individually and it’s possible to book your classes whenever it’s convenient to you.
- If you’re sooo shy and you’re not communicative too much, traditional classes are good option for you because you’re going to have other people to encourage you and you’re going to have a teacher who’s going to lead the whole conversation.
- If there’s anything that isn’t clear to you, online teacher is there to explain to you in a creative and interesting way so you can learn in a more productively and effectively way.
What are the duties that teachers (have? If you work at school, it’s easier, in the sense that you have everything organized, what, when and for how long should you do. However, they usually have a lot of homework to give and correct, they have a lot of tests to correct, etc. Plus, it’s really not easy to work with a group people. In this case, a good teacher MUST know how to manage with all kind of situations (if the people are not quite, how to make classes fun and interesting so the students can follow them easily etc). In many cases, teachers who works at schools work with kids or teenagers, so the teacher has a role of “parent” too. What I’m trying to say is that this teacher should give some kind of advice related to the life, and should be always there for them no matter what. That’s how they automatically build good relationships with their parents too. I’ll give you two examples of good English teachers that I had…
- My English teacher from elementary school was so amazing. She always was well prepared and she always had something interesting for us. We would learn English alphabets through the song, by singing it, we would read interesting texts, for parts of the body we would touch ourselves and we would tell the name of the part of the body that we are touching etc. In one word, it was never boring and we always did something new. Plus, if we would make some kind of mistakes, she would do her best to explain it in a dynamic and interesting way, she would laugh with us together…and we all adored her, especially because she insisted on conversations a lot.
I remember that my friends couldn’t memorize how to pronounce “doing” in English, since in Serbian we read as it’s written and the opposite. My teacher and I corrected them several times. At the end, they decided to make some kind of joke, and they said to me and to other girls “if you want to enter into this classroom, you should tell the “password”, and the password was “doing”. So, we said, we entered and then we all together had fun. Our teacher did not say anything, but it was an important moment since my friends immediately memorized how to pronounce “doing” properly. Plus, it left some kind of marks in our hearts forever, since we noticed how cool our teacher can be.
After her classes, we definitely learned a lot. Not only that, she “woke up” my desire to learn English every day more and more. That’s why I always tried to learn with cartoons, PC games, music, etc. In a few words, whenever I would “learn” English, I would do my best to have fun and to learn at the same time, since, if you have fun and you’re spending a nice time, time’s going to fly. As a result of all that, one girl and I were chosen, and we were sent to the office of the people who were controlling if our teacher was doing a good job or not, our task was to have some kind of conversation in English. Those people were impressed with our knowledge, so of course, it speaks a lot about our teacher.
- My English teacher from secondary school was also great. She was very demanding, but she explained everything perfectly. With her, we repeated the basics and then we worked a lot on business vocabulary, since we finished the school for “law and business”. That means that we wrote tones of offers, we would practice our selling skills, we had presentations in English etc. Plus, we had the opportunity to choose what would we like to sell/offer, and we were so relaxed. We could ask our teacher whatever we didn’t know. Of course, the teacher did not give 4 and 5 easily (in Serbia, teachers rates us from 1 to 5 – that is from F to A), so you had to know everything and you had to be constant, stubborn, and to work really hard. I am really grateful to her, because now I can say that she also helped me a lot with my progress.
Now, I’ll give you the example of bad teacher that I had When we went to the 5th school’s year (because in elementary school, we go from the 1st until the 8th year), a new mathematics teacher came. Yes, he was young and he had a good physics, but he didn’t know how to work with us, kids. Instead of explaining well to us, and to “wake up” that interest for mathematics, he used to insult us in every sense (that we are dumb, that we slow, etc) and he would always rate our tests badly (with this explanation: “God knows for 5 – A, I know for 4, and you all know for 3, 2 and 1), so 3 – C, was the “highest” mark at school. That was the reason why we started to hate mathematics so badly (and I would tell you that from the 1st until the 4th year of the elementary school, the period of time that we were with only one teacher who taught us many subjects, I knew mathematics very well. I used to calculate without any problems, and I did the mathematics tests for 5 minutes and everything was correct.). From that moment, we all started to have big problems with mathematics. What was unusual and interesting about this teacher is that, whenever he would teach us about IT technology he would “transform” into a good teacher, who would explains everything perfectly + he would have fun with us by letting us listen the music that we wanted (usually it were metal bands: Rammstein, Metallica, etc.), and he always rated us great. Almost nobody would have under 4. It’s really UNBELIEVABLE.
If you work online, you should pass through a couple of steps:
- Giving classes
- Activities after the class
Now, let’s analyze together all of these activities.
PREPARATION: First of all, the web site(s), which you work for, should give you a good training. You should learn: how do(es) the website(s) work, what are their policy, and everything else to the website (s) where you work. Then you should prepare for your class. That means that you should have all audio materials/books/videos, etc that you consider that might be useful for your student(s). That means that it also gives you a freedom (and a freedom gives you a lot of responsibilities… so whichever consequences are, it’s going to be because of YOU, no matter if they are positive or negative) , you can also prepare some materials for your students. Also, before you start to give a lesson, be sure that your headphones, microphone and camera works fine and that your internet connection works well. Why? If your microphone doesn’t work, your student will not hear you and the voice is really important (if you would just type, that’d be nonsense, because they can find written explanations everywhere, and you were chosen to give true explanations). If your headphones don’t work – it’s not that scary, since you can use the sound (from your PC), but it’s less professional. If your camera doesn’t work, neither this is scary. However, your students get more trust if they can see your face (your smile, and your reactions whenever you explain or you listen to their mistakes etc). Just like my people say “One picture can tell you better than thousand of words”, so if your students can see you, that’s going to be a big plus for you. Lastly, if your internet connection is not good, then it’s going to be very difficult to give the class because your students might not be able to hear you or to see you well, so they won’t be able to follow you properly.
ORGANIZING You should pay attention on everything:
- What kind of lessons are you going to give (is it just conversational lesson, is it something related to grammar, etc)
- Think what material you’re going to use as a resource
- Think what kind of homework should you give to your student(s)
- Think how can you organize all of these things, so your students don’t start to feel bored, confused, etc
GIVING CLASSES: If it is the first class, try to listen more and talk less. Instead of talking too much, you can do these things:
- Greet your student with a small and nice smile on your face (so he/she can see that you’re so glad to see him/her, so his/her fear can disappear step by step.
- Ask him/her for his/her goals (and what level he/she would like to reach: A1-C2 )
- Test his/her level, and then tell your feedback
- Tell him/her what’s going to be your method of work (with him/her) and how can you help him/her complete his/her goals.
- If it’s necessary, explain to him/her how does the website work, so he/she can be comfortable when he/she logins again.
- If you have time (depending on the duration of the class) you can start to teach him/her what you planned.
- At the end of the class, tell him/her what you’re going to do and offer him/her your hand if he/she needs some help.
If it’s not your first class, then you should do these things:
- Keep teaching him/her what you have planned for him/her, but do it step by step. If it’s necessary, repeat one thing 100000 times until he/she doesn’t understand.
- If the student doesn’t speak any language you speak, no worries, use the target language by speaking more slowly, by using body language and pictures, by using different words (using the phrases that are more simple and easier to understand). JUST NEVER GIVE UP!
- Use your materials that you downloaded or prepared (sometimes that can be a book in PDF, sometimes it can be a word searching, sometimes it can be some YouTube video etc)
- If it’s possible, use the native language of that person to explain. That’s good for you both. The student will understand better (especially the grammar rules), he/she will love you more as a teacher so that means that he/she will probably book more lessons with you. Plus, you’ll practice the language. For example, if you work with an Italian and you speak Italian, then use Italian to explain if you can.
- Be some kind of joker, even if there are problems with internet connection. Don’t panic. For example, I’ll never forget my first experience when I had problems with my internet connection and I had a class with Lars. I was a bit nervous since I still did not know him so well, so I thought he might think I was irresponsible and not professional teacher because I didn’t resolve the problem earlier. However, it was not the case. Here’s a small conversation between me and him: Me: - I’m so sorry, I had a problem with internet connection. I swear, I usually have a good internet connection. I don’t know what’s going on today. Lars: No worries, it seems that Skype needed some kind of break. Me: Yes, it seems so. I guess, I talked too much, as usual, so he was fed up of my story, lol. Lars: Lol Lol Lol
- Always give homework and tests that he/she can do (don’t demand something you didn’t do during your class). That wouldn’t be fair, plus the student might stop booking lessons with you.
- Be always polite and nice with your student. NEVER lie to him/her. If you don’t know something, don’t say that. You can say that “you’re not sure” but “you’re going to check it” and do it immediately, so you can give a good information.
- Don’t be late if you don’t have to. However, if you can’t help it, let him/her on Skype/hangouts or on website, that you’re going to be late, tell the reason, and the duration (5min, 10min or 15min).
- If you can’t come for some reason, also let him/her know about that (and tell the reason too), so you can reschedule the lesson. Don’t let him/her wait for you in vain, cause it’s not fair.
ACTIVITIES AFTER THE CLASS:
- Write articles
- Make some useful videos on YouTube
- Promote yourself on social networks
- Promote your articles on social networks
- Concern your student (remind him on homework, wish him/her happy birthday, wish him/her happy holidays, …)
- If it’s possible, try to be his/her friend, since that’s how you learn a lot too, plus, he/she is going to be more motivated to learn from you if he/she sees he/can count on you anytime.
- Do all corrections; answer to his/her lesson (packet) requests; answer to his/her questions as soon as you can.
- If he/she forgets to confirm the lesson, feel free to remind him on that.
- If you don’t see your student again, after some time, don’t panic and don’t blame yourself. He/she might be just curious to see what are the methods of other teachers, or he/she simply doesn’t want online lessons any more, or he/she decided to learn a language in other way. If you do your job the best you can, no need to worry or to blame yourself.
WHAT ARE HE CONCLUSIONS THAT WE CAN MAKE?
- Always be prepared and do your job the best you can
- Don’t lose your patience so fast.
- Imagine how would you feel if somebody would be mad on you because of anything and insult you so easily… Of course, you’d be so sad, angry and not motivated to learn. So, DON’T DO anything bad to anybody because it can be back to you like a boomerang.
- Don’t spam your students. If they’re not answering at some moment, that usually means they’re not available at some moment because of something. Leave them the space, so they can call you once they’re free again.
- Both types of learning have weaknesses and strengths. Everything depends on the student and his/her method of learning / wishes / time that he/she has at the dispose / money etc