I think I’m a novice when it comes to teaching English online. However, I am trying to do a few things to help my students engage more with the learning process. These tips might help you or you might send me some even better tips!
First, I try to smile and laugh. When I taught English to live classes, laughter was a big part of the experience. I always tried to make the classes fun for me and for the students. Using laughter and humour seems much harder online. Perhaps the difference is the students. Maybe cultural differences means students take themselves very seriously. However, I think the most important factor is probably just the lack of physical presence. Laughter is contagious in a room but not so much in a webinar. How can I boost the students’ enjoyment? I can laugh and smile myself. I can make gentle fun of myself. I can use silly sentences as examples.
Second, I want to treat the students like individual people I really care about. On a busy day, I could see 24 students or even 36 students online. It is easy to stop viewing them as people and start viewing them as just another person who needs to give me a positive rating so I can earn more money. This subtle dehumanisation sucks the fun out of the class for me and disengages the students as well.
Third, I am trying to incorporate more hand signals in my classes. I am teaching with iTutor Group. Their interface allows the students to see me but not be seen by me. So I can’t tell if they are following my example or not. However, by using more hand signals, I am encouraging them to link their physical movement to the speech patterns they want to develop. This has already started to produce better results than just teaching without using my hands. An example of this would be to hold my hand horizontally in front of my face. When I want to show the rising intonation of the end of a question, then I raise my hand. This simple gesture links the voice change with another physical movement. I think this helps the student to focus on the change they want to make.
There must be many more ways to increase student engagement.
Do you have any suggestions?
For other areas of online business, how do you think these ideas transfer to your business?