Recently, I accepted an online position for some extra time and money through VIP Kid. I fully intend to share updates with ups and downs. So this post will be a kind of baseline for how I am feeling, what I am seeing, and so forth.
The first thing I would like to share is that teaching EFL (English as foreign language) is a completely different ball game compared to ESL. I am very glad that I noticed this difference now. My classroom students are expected to learn English as they live their everyday lives in school. They have to function in English. They also are acquiring English. Online, the majority of these students are not living in environments where English is spoken even a portion of the time. This means that you have to be extremely careful and selective in the language that you use in the session. At first, I thought that was going to be easy, but try as an experiment limiting your language to a handful of words and phrases, then teach new words.
The second thing that I have noticed is that being on camera is a vastly different ball game compared to adjusting to students in the classroom. In the classroom I can gauge learning and behaviors through nonverbals, eye movement, and concentration. With that information, I can attempt to redraw a student’s attention my way. Online, this is a bit more difficult. Everything has to be exaggerated. Energy has to be there along with variety to keep the child’s attention. It’s like being a YouTube star, except you’re trying to keep the attention of 6 year olds for 20 minutes at a time.
Lastly, TPR. Teaching EFL online means relying heavily on TPR to give context to words. While TPR is something that many teachers use in physical classrooms, it’s not something that is completely necessary for a successful lesson. Online, it’s the complete opposite. I’m not sure it would be possible to teach effectively without TPR.
While each of these challenges are unique to teaching online, they have already changed the way I am functioning in the classroom. My plans have shifted slightly to being more concise, and the way I am redirecting children’s attention has become much more exaggerated. Lastly, I have definitely used a lot more TPR when interacting with my students.