Get the most from your online English classes – Part 1 - Teachers
Updated: Feb 8, 2021
For millions of language students, school classes and teachers all over the world, moving the teaching and learning world online has been hard!
It’s impossible to deny that adapting to this whole new way of teaching and interacting has been a major shift in many different areas of education.
Check out the rest of this article to learn some common problems that students and teachers face, as well as some easy and cheap solutions to make your lives so much easier. When everyone can relax and understand how online classes work, education can happen much more easily.
Later this week, part two of this article will look at the problems and solutions to some issues the students face.
Problem Number 1 - Set up
In a normal classroom, everyone comes in, gets their things ready and the teacher prepares to begin the class. There’s lots of noise and movement, but it’s all easy to manage and the teacher can solve individual problems (no pens, need paper etc) as everyone prepares.
Online, this is not the same. All that noise and movement is overwhelming, and the teacher cannot really control the class when this is happening. Teachers also cannot help solve problems in this moment, as the class is full of microphone noise and interruptions.
Solution Number 1 – Preparation and control
Online classes can be chaotic, but teachers can remove some of this madness by ensuring they have everything they need ready before the class starts. If you are not worrying about your audio, then you can focus on your students.
Use the first minute of the class to set the boundaries and expectations, and start the class in a clear and precise way.
Teachers can also control the class entry and set up better, by admitting your students one by one, instead of all at once. You can admit one student, ensure their video and audio are good to go, then repeat this with all your students.
If you have too many for this to work well, then try admitting them in groups of four or five. Keep control of the class from the very beginning, and everyone will enjoy it more!
Problem Number 2 – I can’t hear you!
One of the most surprising and frustrating elements of this online class era, is when I see teachers shouting into their tiny laptop microphones, and struggling to hear their students.
Poor quality audio will be a huge part of the reason your students say online classes are hard to follow, or boring. In a normal classroom, your voice is used in a variety of different ways. You encourage, warn and motivate with your voice. If you lose the ability to speak clearly, or be understood well, how can you expect to teach anything?
Solution Number 2 - Headsets
This solution is incredibly basic, and I can’t believe it isn’t the first thing every English teacher in Spain did. Go and buy a relatively cheap headset (anything from €20-200) and connect it to your online call application.
It’s the instant and guaranteed solution to bad audio, and it will absolutely help you to control, motivate and teach your students.
Going one further, if you can encourage your students to also use a headset or earphones, then everyone can hear each other and everyone wins.
This one seems more of a necessity and I hope every online teacher starts using a headset or earphones as soon as possible.
Problem Number 3 – Hybrid/blended class – some online and some in class
If you are one of the teachers struggling with online classes, then it must be a true nightmare when you have to teach some students online, at the same time as some students in class.
Trying to find a way to keep two groups of students engaged, when they can’t hear or see the same things… that’s always going to be a tricky situation.
The principle issues are visual and auditory (not to mention the lack of interaction or group work).
Solution Number 2 – Video and sound
The solution to this issue, like most, requires some innovation and technical understanding. As we attempt to integrate online and in person classes, teachers will need to step up their tech game considerably.
At RKA Valencia, we have developed fully interactive and integrated ‘blended’ classes. We use a two camera, omnidirectional microphone setup, combined with a screen in class to show the online students’ faces.
One camera captures the teacher, showing the online students the same view the presential students have. The second camera captures the students in class, giving the
online students the chance to see their classmates and identify who is speaking (instead of guessing from the voice).
This second camera is the real game changer, as it allows online students to see the gestures and body language of their classmates and react much more spontaneously.
Part two of this article will look at the problems and solutions to some issues the students face.
For any English teacher or high school teacher out there, hopefully these tips can help you to improve the quality of your online classes. It won’t just make for better education, you can relax knowing that most of the biggest problems you’ll face, are already solved!
For any students who want better quality English classes, taught by native English experts, then visit us at www.rkavalencia.com and find out more. We teach online, in person, or you can choose when you visit us at our Valencia English academy.