How to make an online spoken English class effective for your students
To learn English online is now more common than before thanks to the rapid rate of digitalization in today’s globalized markets, at a pace accelerated unprecedently by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Online spoken English classes are now more evolved in terms of their course curriculum, online lesson delivery with a more customized approach to addressing individual students needs as well in the form of one-on-one online live English classes.
Most online English speaking courses either offer private lessons or group tuitions. The first step towards enrolling for an online spoken English course is to identify what is the appropriate learning style for you. The best (read faster) outcomes for an online spoken English class are the conversational style of learning method. Conversational English classes online emphasize much more time on spoken English practice than traditional learning formats. Other than individual attention towards the learner, the online English tutor also is able to customize lessons at a progressive pace.
There are situations when students are not able to comprehend, we often find ourselves trying to explain more clearly. But sometimes, more teacher talk doesn’t help. When we lean on teacher explanation consistently as a primary teaching tool, we teach our students to be dependent on us. Studies show that teacher talking time must be reduced and student talking time must be maximized.
Effective Strategies to Reduce Teacher Talk Time in an online English class:
Now, the question is, how do we move from students being dependent on online English teachers to using other things as a support? How to reduce teacher talking time? Well, instead of feeding your students with everything, provide them the tools and time to stimulate cognitive process to get students doing things on their own. Students need to participate, engage, interact, as well as answer questions. If we do most of the talking in class, our students are likely to get bored and lose their interest.
Therefore, let’s look at a few ways to reduce teacher talking time in the classroom.
Create an Environment for Students: Involving and boosting the confidence of students should be the primary aim for the teachers. It is vital to create moments for students where they are active, talkative, and collaborative. For this, teachers not only need to bring up interesting materials for them but also encourage them to create and share their ideas and personal experiences with others.
You can already plan for the tasks to integrate, try bringing materials to the classroom, providing feedback, reporting something, reflecting on their performance. These are a few things that can be done in an online classroom that can enhance their learning and progress.
Ask Open- Ended Questions: It is better to ask open-ended questions so that students have multiple things to answer. For instance, let’s look at these two types of questions: “Do you prefer coffee or tea?”. The second question: “What if you were the Prime Minister?”
Now think of the possible answers that a student could give for the first one. Maximum two, right? The second question, however, has so many possibilities and the type of answer will usually be a lot longer. Isn’t it? Therefore, plan for such questions where students can think and can share their feelings.
Let the Students Ask You Questions: It’s simple when you keep asking questions and someone else answers your questions. Remember, it is not an interview. So, try mixing things up by letting them ask you questions and engage more of their speaking side than just answering things. The idea is to keep the conversation going. Therefore, make sure your answers aren’t too long though.
Quality of Your Talk is Important: The words that you speak need to be both effective and efficient. We need to avoid long explanations, repeating what students say, paraphrasing as well as adding more than necessary and additional information to the responses of the students. Along with providing students with the chance to speak, we are also focusing on what is relevant to their learning progress, thereby making them more engaged and active. Therefore, reflecting on our talk regularly is necessary to make it more refined. You may also record your class to examine the quality.
Let the Students Teach You: This is something I have done in my classes, and I have reaped good results. During the conversation, keep checking your student’s comprehension of a word, phrase, or concept by getting them to explain it to you. It may be difficult for them in the starting, but in the later classes you can try this method. If the student finds a way to explain the very thing to you, it will be a confidence booster for them.
Silence is Okay: There may be moments where the students are not able to comprehend and are taking time to speak. Don’t let this bother you. Silence often means that your learners are thinking about what to say. Silence gives your learners the time to think about their response and then answer the question. There can also be a situation where the learner is limited to saying yes or no or giving very short answers, in that case, try to make your student comfortable by asking something else from the topic. This will keep the conversation going.
Make Learning Exciting: Apply the discovery learning method, where you act as a mentor, and give clues to help your students come to solutions. This method encourages the students to construct their own knowledge through a self-directed learning process and increases students’ listening scores and their achievement. For instance, you can play the lyrics of your favorite song by removing certain verb tenses or adjectives. Then, tell your students to listen to fill in the missing words. After listening to the lyrics, ask your students to look at the text, identify each verb tense or adjective, and discuss how it is used and the reason for using it.
Elicit a Little More on Students’ Talk: With words, use body language, gesture, and facial expressions to communicate. For example, you can say: ‘Wow! That’s interesting’ (raising your eyebrows). Acting as a prompter is required for the students to express their ideas and overcome their fear. For this, set activities with clear instructions. Design lessons where students’ inquiry and discovery are enhanced. You should ask students to justify their answers, explain and add more details. Try and encourage them to discuss and elaborate more on their answers. The idea is to equip the students with the necessary tools and a healthy atmosphere to express their ideas.
In conclusion, reflect on your talk to improve it further. Plan for those moments where students can do on their own and you’re only there to observe them and to provide the necessary help, if required. These things will become a part of your lessons eventually and when students get used to them, you may not need that planning. Try the above methods, I am sure you’ll see the difference. All the best.