Organize your online ESL classes like a pro

Teaching English online has become the New Normal over the past couple of years as we’ve been plunged into studying and socializing online. The acceptance of online classes, with students now even preferring to learn English online, has translated into it being possible to teach ESL 100% remotely.

We can now work full-time teaching English from the comfort of our own home… and maybe even while travelling the world! Our TEFL team has tons of experience teaching online and the consensus is that the key to success is… organisation! Here are some of our top tips to keep you organised while teaching online.

Making the move to teaching online is definitely a gradual process. The first step is to get a handful of materials that you know help you do great classes and to convert them into an online format.

Online classes need to be dynamic so you should really start to think outside the box and use different online teaching tools. You should aim to prepare a few classes for each level, as well as some materials for the usual problem areas, like prepositions, etc. that sometimes come up and can also be a great time filler.

Gmail for online ESL classes

Create a Gmail for materials

You might want to create a specific Gmail to send materials to your students, and so that they can send you homework.

If you want to use your normal “English teacher” email, then at least make sure you use folders to keep track of all materials you’re sending to each group or student.

You should try and have a clear inbox at all times so you know exactly where everything is and you feel like you’re on top of everything.

Google Drive your life!

Using a tool like Google Drive is a great way to keep all your documents in one place, access them easily week after week, and you don’t need to remember to save them as it does it automatically for you.

You can also share them directly with your students (as long as they have Drive too) and that way they can continuously access their corrections and new vocabulary after each lesson.

Get your online folders in check

So, you have your materials and Google Drive ready and waiting. How are you going to divide up your materials?

Start by creating folders for generic materials that are divided into different levels and, more importantly, label the documents really well! It may seem straightforward right now while you have just a few documents, but obviously when you’re looking at a screen full of materials all labeled ‘B1 READING’, you’ll wish you’d really made a bit more effort when you started out!

Next, create individual online folders for each group/student that you teach so that you can easily access and share. The last thing you want to be is flustered during class when you’re looking for documents.

We usually have all the links, documents, and videos in the folder according to the month or week the class took place to easily keep up with what you’ve done with your group.

Sending materials ahead of the class

Another great idea is to send any materials to your students before the class so it saves time in class passing links and documents around. It’s also a good idea to do this in case there are any technical problems during the class.

Decide how far ahead you want to send them, i.e., will it be the day before or an hour before? If you have an online Calendar, pop yourself a weekly reminder in there to do it. That way you can be sure you won’t forget.

Documents open and ready before your online ESL classes

Here’s a useful tip for when you are working online with your students – just before you start class, have all your documents open, videos/audios prepared, and your ‘whiteboard’ (i.e. A word document or Google doc) ready to display for sharing information. This is a public service announcement!

Make sure you close tabs and remove anything personal from your desktop. This will eliminate any confusion between tabs to use when you’re in class, and stop any accidental viewings of your own personal emails and photos!

Online Classrooms

If you’re running your own classes – i.e. not going through an academy or agency, then you should choose your online classroom carefully. You’ll want to try all the options and see which works best for you.

We prefer Zoom for our classes but it does cost more than platforms like FaceTime or Skype, although it does have a ton more features. There are 2 versions available, the free version and the paid-for version. The free version can be used for groups for up to 40 minutes, but if it’s just 121 classes it can be used for an hour at a time.

The paid version allows you to use it as much and as often as you like with as little or as many students as you like. It also has some awesome features such as recording the class and breakout rooms. If you’re intending to do the majority of your classes online, it’s well worth the money.

Time to put it all into action for your online ESL classes!

With all this information in mind, why not get going now with getting your classes super organized? You’ll see a world of difference with just a little planning ahead, and start looking out for new platforms to sign-up for. There are certainly plenty of options out there.

During our TEFL course, we really get you ready to step out as a fully-fledged English teacher! We give you all the tricks of the trade, as well as all the practical and theoretical knowledge to teach ESL in Madrid and beyond. Want more information about our teacher training courses? Contact Helen on info@lets.education.