Becoming an online teacher: it sounds like a wonderful opportunity, doesn’t it? Well, the good news is that it absolutely can be, and the possibilities for exploring this career are easier and more varied than ever before.
Still, before a prospective TEFL teacher rushes headlong into the world of online teaching, there are a few key points they need to know. Below is a brief list of some key aspects, explored in further detail along the way!
Basic Rules and Regulations
Navigating the online world is definitely a new frontier for many people, both educators and learners alike. This, in fact, can be a bit of a double-edged sword if not managed appropriately and correctly at the beginning. On the plus side, it does appear as though online learning is here for the long haul, so that means that any and all time invested in learning the fundamentals should prove to be a canny investment over time.
For one thing, it is vital to research and find out about different platforms and their own unique systems. Some online schools have very specific requirements in terms of lesson planning, curriculum, instruction, and feedback. Getting to grips with these early ought to prevent any confusion down the line.
On top of that, there may be factors to take into consideration, such as time zone differences between tutors and pupils. While it may seem attractive to have the freedom to work from anywhere, the reality is that some students may only be available to learn at a time that is inconvenient for the educator, or vice versa. Opening up a clean and simple line of communication between all parties is an essential part of setting off on the right foot.
Teaching while abroad
One of the best features of becoming an online TEFL pro is the ability to be able to teach from anywhere. This really does open up a world of options, both in terms of where to work from and how to organize that all-important schedule. Here, there are a plethora of choices in how to do this, whether it be simply adding a few extra dollars to the travel pot, or by partaking in a planned project such as the EPIK programme, the planet is open for business for the budding TEFL maestro.
Of course, it must be noted that there is a fine line between finding enough responsibilities and classes to support the offline lifestyle and making sure that the lessons that are taught are of the very highest quality.
One of the biggest pitfalls to avoid while teaching abroad is underestimating the amount of time needed to effectively plan and prepare for classes, as well as teach them. Online students expect and deserve just as much care and attention into their lessons as conventional learners, and this is a must when factoring in the level to which online work becomes part of the timetable.
Customizing the learner experience
One of the best features of teaching online is the ability to tailor make lessons that meet the needs of any and every student, with specific aspects that are truly unique to that pupil. In a conventional offline environment, the teacher is presented with the dilemma of how to cater for up to 30 learners at one time, and sometimes even more. Therefore, one of the biggest benefits of online is the capacity to narrow down the teaching experience and make it as personal as possible.
For some learners, this may mean using songs or other forms of music to teach the language. An example of this would be to use Madonna’s pop songs from the 1980s as a treasure trove of examples of the conditional tenses, or to identify specific colors and their meanings from tracks by the Rolling Stones. Meanwhile, other students could favor learning through reading newspaper articles about the latest current affairs, or even humorous memes that make fun of light-hearted jokes of the day.
Honing specific skills
In a traditional classroom setup, the teacher is under enormous pressure to create masters of all trades, with no skill left behind. While that may be a specific requirement in the traditional world of education, online teaching often offers a lot more leeway when working with a student to design a course that is just right for them. For instance, a student might arrive at an online course with the specific intention of building fluency in speaking, with no real need to practice the other elements in much detail.
By contrast, some learners realize that they need to improve their writing in English, so they would prefer that the online course suits this requirement. Either way, the online TEFL wannabe has the chance to become a specialist in a specific area of TEFL, making them a much better instructor in that sector, as well as helping them to build their range in the long run.
Learning is learning
In summary, though, the roles of TEFL teacher and student are still fundamentally the same on the internet as they are in person. The teacher is still the source of information from which the student is coming to improve their knowledge of the English language. In turn, the student is required to be motivated and prepared in order to attain their linguistic goals. Whether teaching took place in the time of Plato, or nowadays in the digital era, the basic tenets of teaching are essentially identical.
First of all, the most obvious aspect is that the educator should be up-to-date on all the latest goings-on in the world of education, both in terms of pedagogy and the subject itself.
This means that if a word like “woke” comes up in a lesson, the tutor must be able to differentiate if the meaning is that of the more conventional sense, as in the past tense version of the verb “to wake”, or if it carries the more modern connotation associated with our contemporary culture. In any case, the teacher needs to be armed to the teeth with answers to student queries, and be ready to have an open mind to help them progress in their language learning journey, every step of the way.