Published 8th May 2020
The beauty of teaching is that you never know who your students might be. While most teachers enjoy this aspect of the career because it gives us variety in our job, if you’re new to teaching – and especially online teaching – you might not know exactly who you could be teaching. Being familiar with the type of learners you are going to teach is necessary so you can plan and prepare appropriately. So, who can I teach teach online you ask?
Here are your potential online English language learners:
Young Learners make up the vast majority of online English language learners and this is evident in the huge number of online companies which only teach English online to children. Many of these companies teach only Young Learners in China, so you could easily fill up your schedule only teaching this one type of learner. Teaching Young Learners is done either 1-to-1 or in a class, but usually it is not more than four to six students.
Teaching Young Learners is very different to teaching any other age group. Your lessons need to be particularly engaging and fun and your activities cannot be complicated or lengthy. Quick, simple, fun activities are the way to go with Young Learners. Plus you will need to incorporate interactive elements, such as games or songs or puppets, to keep your students entertained. What’s more, as a Young Learner teacher you may need to communicate with the students’ parents on their progress.
Though there are far more Young Learners than teens learning English online, teens might want to learn English online to supplement their English lessons at school. Again, many teen learners are in China, but there is a growing market of teens in Europe. Again, classes can be 1-to-1 or classes of a few students.
Teens can be tricky as learners, but they are as rewarding as they are challenging. Be careful not to treat teens like Young Learners, and make sure your lessons appeal to their personalities and interests. Respect teens as young adults and let them contribute to discussions with their own ideas and opinions – you might be surprised what you can get out of them!
More and more adults are realizing the convenience of learning English online. Instead of taking time off work or studying to attend a language school, they can log in and have lessons before or after work or university, or as their schedule allows them. For the most part adults will have 1-to-1 lessons as they are learning in their private capacity. Many adults require General English lessons, because they would like to speak English in a conversational capacity, or perhaps for travelling or engaging with English media.
When dealing with adults, it is important to realise that they might not have been in an academic environment for a while. This means they may have forgotten the best way for them to learn, or they may not feel comfortable speaking English. Adults often also have confidence issues and are afraid to make mistakes. Teaching adults requires a lot of patience and encouragement. At the same time, your adult students are on the same intellectual level as you so you can discuss topical issues with them in depth.
Even though many adult students require General English lessons, there are a number of adult learners who require English for specific purposes.
Many non-native English speakers would like to study at an English-medium university or tertiary institution. They sign up for online English lessons because they need to pass an entrance exam to prove their English proficiency or, if they are already studying, to improve their English language skills to keep up with their academic workload. These students will need particularly to work on academic skills.
With students you may want to deal not only with general academic skills, but also content directly related to their field of study. You could use texts that they have dealt with in class or find resources that are related to what they are studying or would like to study. In this way, the material will be directly relevant to them and they will find it easier to transfer their skills into the real world.
Some adults need to improve their English language skills to help with their jobs. This might be quite general, such as a writing and answering emails, talking on the phone or participating in meetings, or it can be quite specific, such as customer service, banking, or sales. Similarly, an employer may want an English teacher to instruct their employees on issues such as communication. These classes are often group classes rather than 1-to-1, as colleagues will take lessons together.
Even though the content of these lessons may be dry, make sure you make your lessons as engaging as possible. Because these lessons are likely to be sponsored by the companies, the lessons might be compulsory for your students which may affect their motivation and enthusiasm levels. You will need to find ways to appeal to the learners to make the lessons not only useful but interesting too.
The variety of students you can teach as an online English teacher is surely one of the greatest drawcards of the job. You are guaranteed to meet interesting people from all over the world, and talking to and interacting with them will make your job a lot more interesting than most. In fact, sometimes it might not even feel like a job!