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 some students even preferring to learn English online, means ESL teachers now have the option to work completely 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 structure and order your online classes.

Making the move to teaching online is a gradual process. The first step is to gather materials and resources you need to give an engaging and interactive class online.

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

It’s a good idea to create a specific work Gmail. This way you can send notes and receive homework without work-related emails being mixed up with personal ones.

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. This helps 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, your materials and Google Drive are set up and ready to go. How are you going to divide your materials?

Start by creating folders for generic materials and divide them by levels. Be sure to label things well! It may seem straightforward now when you have just a few documents, but as time goes on, you’ll find you’ll start compiling quite a few documents. Opeeing a folder full of documents labeled ‘B1 READING’, you’ll wish you’d really made a bit more effort from the start!

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 is to be 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 you’ll be using to your students before the class. This saves time in class passing links and documents around. This will also reduce the probability of problems being caused by technical issues 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.

Have documents open and ready before your online ESL classes

A useful tip for teaching online is to have your documents and videos/audios open before the class starts. Also having your ‘whiteboard’ (i.e. A word document or Google doc) ready to display for sharing information will minimize time wasted. 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 during 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 1-2-1 classes it can be used for an hour at a time.

The paid version allows you to use it as often as you like, for as long as you like with 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, it’s time to start organizing your classes. With just a little bit of planning ahead, you’ll see a world of difference.  and start looking out for new platforms to sign-up for. There are certainly plenty of options out there.

During our TEFL course, we prepare you to step out as a fully-fledged English teacher! We arm you with 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 Kelsea at [email protected].