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Online English classes - happy students and happy teachers

Teaching and learning online - a changing world!


Just a few years ago, did you ever imagine that working from home and having meetings via video call in your pyjamas would become the norm? Or that companies would no longer expect their employees to physically be in the office 5 days a week? I certainly didn’t. The global pandemic forced our working habits to change dramatically, and the incredible thing is that these changes are turning out to be long-lasting.


Throughout my career as a teacher, my opinion of English classes online was that they were fine - convenient for students who live in a different country/city of course, but not ideal since it’s difficult to establish a close rapport through a screen, and it was definitely only suitable for one-to-one classes - surely you can’t teach a group of students online?! I had completely underestimated the potential and it was only when we were forced to move completely online during the pandemic that I was left with no choice but to confront these views.


What started as panic, unpreparedness and sheer bewilderment both on part of the teacher and the students, soon became a well-oiled machine. We learnt through trial and error how best to manage an online class and searched for the tools we needed when we realised we needed them. Attendance improved too, as students began to notice the value in their online classes, get used to the technology and look forward to meeting their classmates and teacher for some meaningful human contact.


Happy students


As employees started to go back to the office a few days a week, I was waiting for the call from HR telling me ‘Hooray, finally we can go back to face-to-face classes!’. Actually, what we got was the opposite - incredibly positive feedback about online classes and that students wanted to continue with the same format. The main advantages mentioned were: more flexibility with rescheduling classes and improved attendance as a result, time efficiency during the working day, accessibility, well-prepared classes, dynamic group work and relevant interactions for employee’s day-to-day online tasks in English. Companies with employees in various offices across the country were also able to bring these people together in English classes. It was a no-brainer that online classes were the way forward.


Happy teachers


From a teacher’s perspective, online classes allow us to gather and share materials with students in live-time editing documents, which students can access inside and outside of class at the click of a button. This makes monitoring students and giving feedback much easier, encourages autonomous learning skills, and means that students always have a record of what has been done in class (useful if anyone is absent too). Zoom is a brilliant platform that has all the dynamic features we could ask for - for example, breakout rooms, which allow students to work in pairs and small groups in the same way they would in a physical classroom. Not to mention that we don’t need to use a photocopier anymore and we’ve suddenly gone paper-free! The environment wins too!


Drawbacks?


The only real disadvantages I can see is that it increases our screen time (which most of us already have plenty of on a daily basis), and the fact that perhaps there is a varied quality of online classes out there (but you could say the same for face-to-face classes too). I used to believe that by meeting a student purely online, it wasn’t possible to create the same kind of close teacher-student relationship that we can build in the physical classroom, but I’ve been totally proven wrong on this one. I’ve got students now who I’ve been teaching online for over 2 years and have never met in person, and we feel just as much affinity with each other as those in the real-life classroom. In fact, perhaps even more, since I’ve seen inside their living room and met their kids and dog! Of course there are sometimes frustrating technological issues (have you seen this hilarious video? I think we can all relate to it!) but with a little practice and patience, I’ve learnt that it’s 100% worth it.


If you’re still doubtful, why not give it a go? Your English Boost starts here!

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