Netiquette for Teaching English Online
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Considering the internet has been around for as long as it has, you might think you know everything there is to know about what you should and shouldn’t do online. You know, SHOUTING, saying what you wouldn’t say face-to-face, being too casual with your professors – that kind of stuff. And maybe you do, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. But when it comes to teaching English online, there are probably a few things you might not have realised about the netiquette involved in this particular virtual situation.
Netiquette is etiquette specifically related to the internet – it is a blend of network and etiquette. In other words, what you should and shouldn’t do to be courteous in your communication online. If you are one of the thousands of teachers now teaching English as a Foreign Language online, have a read of these netiquette tips to make sure you don’t commit any online faux pas.
Read more: 7 Steps to Being a Successful Online English Teacher
One of the major benefits of teaching English online is that you can do it from anywhere. You can do it from a holiday house, a coffee shop, or even from your bed. And yes, we understand that it can be tempting to dress business from the waist up and party from the waist down, but we think it’s a better idea to put as much effort into your outfit as you would for any job. After all, how you are dressed will make a big difference to your frame of mind – and wearing your pyjama bottoms won’t exactly make you feel like you’re in work mode.
Obviously, you should be neat and tidy. If you are teaching adults or Business English, opt for more neutral colours. If you are teaching kids, choose brighter colours. But no matter who you are teaching, avoid patterns or prints which can be distracting. The same can be said for over-the-top makeup or extravagant jewellery or headgear. You want your students to pay attention to what you are saying and not what you look like.
Check your background
Remember that your students can see not only you but also your background. Make sure there is nothing risqué or offensive behind you. This could be an item on your bookcase (we all know that story) or a picture on your wall. It’s a better idea to have a plain background behind you. There are a few options for virtual backgrounds but you can even hang a plain sheet behind you to cover the wall if necessary. Teachers of Young Learners often prefer to have pictures or a whiteboard in the background. You can have your name written up and the date, and maybe a flag from your country or a map of the world.
Besides the visuals of your background, consider any background noise as well. Your students don’t want to see people walking behind you and they don’t want to hear them either. If they can hear anyone besides you, they will be self-conscious about speaking. Imagine trying to speak a foreign language with someone listening to your lessons? Also, any sudden noises like traffic, the doorbell or a dog barking can be really off-putting, so you need to make sure you are teaching in a quiet space.
Read more: What Tools Do I Need to Teach English Online?
Because your students are focussing mostly on your face, you need to be extra careful about your expressions and your body language. You should smile to come across as open and friendly, but don’t overdo it! Be mindful of constantly touching your face or fiddling with your hair – and for goodness’ sake don’t yawn or roll your eyes! Sit up straight and make eye contact with your students so they know you are paying attention. This can be tricky if you have more than one student in your virtual classroom but it’s still doable.
You also need to take your body language into account. You need to be more expressive than usual, but make sure you don’t act like a clown. Watching a screen for an hour can be mind-numbing for students, so you need to incorporate movement and actions into your lessons to keep your students’ attention focussed on you and the lesson. Too much, however, and they won’t be able to focus on the aims of the lesson.
Think before you speak
As teachers, we are used to speaking clearly, but this is even more important online. The sound quality of our equipment or internet connection can make hearing more difficult than usual, so be sure to enunciate your words and speak as clearly as possible. Allow time at the beginning of the lesson for everyone to adjust their volume to their required level to make hearing optimal. If you notice there is background noise on your students’ side, don’t be shy about asking them to make sure they are in a quiet space – for Young Learners this might mean speaking to their parents after the lesson to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
It is also important to consider not only how you speak but what you say. Humour and sarcasm can be lost through the screen so try not to make subtle jokes which could be misunderstood. As with any classroom, be mindful of the cultures and backgrounds of your students so you don’t unwittingly offend anyone with the content of your lessons.
Don’t forget about discipline
It can be easy to be a lot more relaxed in online lessons due to the nature of the medium. However, there is still a need for discipline and classroom rules. Make sure your students are aware of the different techniques you use for communication – raising their hands when they want to speak or if they have a question. Everyone should be on the same page when it comes to using the mute button, as it is a very useful tool when used correctly.
Online English lessons can be very successful tools for language learning – as well as a lucrative business for English teachers – as long as they are executed effectively. For online English as a Foreign Language teachers, this means not only understanding the basic principles of teaching the language but also the principles of teaching online. Rest assured, if you are new to teaching online you will get the hang of it soon. So many of us had no idea what we were doing online a year ago, and look at us now!
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LAST UPDATED: 19th July 2022
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We will not start looking for your information until we receive all of the above. In order to submit your request, or for help making a request, please contact us.
Rights concerning the processing of your personal information
- Right to restrict processing of personal information
- In some situations, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of your personal information. We may restrict your personal information by temporarily moving the information to another processing system, making the information unavailable to users, or temporarily removing published information from a website. We may also use technical methods to ensure the personal information is not subject to further processing and cannot be changed. When we have restricted processing of personal information, this will be clearly indicated on our systems.
- You can require us to restrict processing in the following circumstances:
- You are concerned that the information we hold about you is inaccurate. You can ask us to restrict the information until we can determine whether the information is accurate or inaccurate.
- We are processing your personal data unlawfully and you do not want us to delete the information but restrict it instead.
- We no longer need the information for the purposes for which we collected it, but they are needed by you for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.
- You have objected to the processing (see below), and we need to decide whether the legitimate grounds we have to process the information override your legitimate interests.
Processing you think is unlawful
- If you tell us that you think we are processing your personal information unlawfully, but you do not want the information to be erased, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of that information.
- We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the processing is unlawful, and may also ask that you provide evidence to support this view.
Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by ELEARNING FUTURES LTD but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, ELEARNING FUTURES LTD is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD,
21-22 Old Steine,
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.