In previous posts we have focussed a lot on the benefits of online Spanish courses for students. In this post I will consider some of the advantages of courses online from the teachers` point of view.I will also give some advice about how to approach online courses reflecting on my experience teaching online during my teacher training course.
There is no doubt that for both teachers and students online courses provide a lot of flexibility. When organising my class I could find a time which was convenient not only for me but also for my students. This meant that none of the classes were cut short and that we were able to cover all of the material fully.
I also found the one-to-one setup allowed me to gain a close relationship with my students. Throughout the classes I was able to learn a lot about the student and their culture whilst sharing traditions and customs from my own culture. Having classes one-to-one also enabled me to focus all my energy on tailoring materials to the suit the specific needs and learning styles of the individual students. I was able to develop a lot of strategies and techniques for effectively adapting materials.
I also found that during my online lessons the students were all really relaxed. This could be explained by the fact that the students were in the familiar surroundings of their own home where they could work on the materials following their own rhythm and where they could make mistakes without fear of losing face in front of their classmates. However, although the classroom environment was more informal I made sure that the teacher-student division was not completely broken by not revealing too much personal information about myself
In the first part of this article I have examined some benefits of online classes for teachers. In the second part of this post I aim to look at some practical considerations when starting to teach online classes.Effective communication during skype classes can be affected by a poor internet connection. I found that using a microphone and headset enabled my students to understand me which was especially important when carrying out pronunciation exercises.
When using skype I also aimed to keep my video on at all times as the students´ ability to see me mantained the close rapport that they had with me. Being able to see my mouth was also essential when we were working on pronunciation exercises.
I also found that when doing online courses I had to think about the materials used during the classes. For example with a course online it is much harder to use a slideshow presentation as it is difficult to work through a presentation at the same time as a student is looking at it. However, these classes allow you to investigate new, exciting teaching materials and methods. For example videos, pictures, articles and exercises can all be shared with the students by email or virtual chat.
You may also need to bear in mind the structure of your lessons. Since the classes often take place at the students` home disruptions may occur. It is important to investigate strategies and techniques to help the students to refocus if such a situation does occur.
You may also need to consider how long it will take to share materials with students when establishing the planned timings for each stage of the lesson. Thinking about timings , strategies for disruptions and how each stage will link will enable the lessons to flow.
When planning lessons it was important that I allocated time for some breaks. The fact that student is in their home makes this even easier as they can simply get up and go for a walk. I found that these breaks were essential in mantaining mine and the students´ focus especially when studying complicated grammar topics.
Nevertheless, I made sure that the breaks were taken at a convenient point from which I could restart the lesson. If these breaks are planned you can make sure that they do not affect the flow of the lesson.
In conclusion, I hope I have shown that online courses present benefits not only for students but also for teachers. I also hope that the reflection on my experience will help future teachers who want to start teaching online.