Chances are if your income has been affected by the lockdown and the global coronavirus pandemic, you’re probably looking for ways to supplement it. Many people are now considering things out of their comfort zones.
But have you ever considered teaching online? Online learning is fast becoming the preferred medium for pupils across the globe, and many agencies are now trying hard to keep up with the supply and demand.
The teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) industry could provide useful insights for people looking to set up or improve their online classrooms.
Below, Tom Gibbons, director at The TEFL Academy, shares some tips on how to get started.
“When you’re setting up your online learning environment, its important to remember that you’re not replicating a physical classroom. With a virtual classroom, you have many more added benefits, including being able to seamlessly integrate digital media and interactive lesson components,” says Gibbons.
Existing school and university teachers are in a good position to become online TEFL teachers, adds Gibbons. “For those who have taken a pay cut or who are working reduced hours due to lockdown, teaching English as a foreign language online is a viable way to supplement their income. They have the necessary teaching experience and, because they are working from home, their online classrooms are already set up – all they need is a TEFL qualification.”
Good equipment is vital to your success as an online teacher. You will need a laptop or PC with a webcam, headset with microphone, and a stable internet connection. Your computer should be raised to your eye level to account for the webcam. If you have power issues, invest in a back-up battery pack and UPS so as not to interrupt your lessons if the power goes out.
The setting for your online lesson – including the noise level, available light and what your students see behind you – is very important. Teaching in front of a window is not recommended because of the light and distractions it can present. We recommend having a wall behind you that you can decorate appropriately. For example, if you are teaching young learners, add some colourful bunting, a world map or interesting pictures related to the subject students will be learning about. These can also be useful conversation starters.
Virtual learning material
If you can, introduce images, video clips and memes into your lessons to make them more visually appealing and memorable. One of the main benefits of a digital classroom is the ease with which these learning materials can be integrated.
Realia are words and expressions for culture-specific material elements. This includes everyday objects that are referred to in the lesson and can be anything from food to stationery to clothing. Learning is all about connecting concepts with real world objects, places and people and realia help students make these connections more concrete.