How to Teach Languages Online

Lexa Pennington's picture

Learning how to teach languages online requires you to understand the human learning process. At any age, anyone can learn a foreign language. Learning, however, for children is far more natural than adults, as they rely on the deep motor area of their brain. This area acquires information quickly and works in combination with the hippocampus to memorize information–and thus enables language learning among kids.

On the other hand, in adulthood, we process new languages in more actively conscious areas of the brain. Language learning takes different forms, obviously, but this sole reason is why an online language teacher has to be super effective! 

How to Teach Languages Online

10 Tips For Teaching Languages Online

1. Structure your class into small sections

Orderliness and organization help to define clarity and purpose. Structuring your classes enables students to know what to expect each time they enter the classroom. This is an organizational tip gleaned from years of experience–doing this will make students feel comfortable with the challenging learning tasks ahead of them.

You can keep students on their toes by creating a variable learning structure. 

A fundamental structure might include:

● greetings and getting settled in
● warm-up activities for voice and body
● presentation of the day's theme and exercise,
● doing the day's exercise
● evaluation of the work done in class,
● homework and goodbyes

Creating a structure reinforces what you want to teach your students–and also makes learning practical. 

2. Have a good internet connection

As an online teacher, the essential thing is that your internet is functioning optimally. For example, potential students who want to learn Portuguese will be located in South America and Africa, according to Duolingo research. Wherever your students are in the world, connecting with them is critical. Students who prefer to take classes online on learning platforms like Preply, depend heavily on the quality of the video during the lesson. Make sure you can give the best on your side!

3. Have exemplary resources

As an online teacher, your level of uniqueness will go a long way in promoting your lessons. One thing you should be prioritize is making use of resources that will set you apart from your competition. Therefore, have a good, solid base of learning resources, which will make your job a lot easier, more interesting, and, of course, trusted.

You need to understand the nature of your classes. Teaching online also means you have to think outside the box occasionally. What's the point of having boxes of beautiful flashcards when your student can't touch them? Focus your attention on PowerPoints, PDFs, and Word documents–basically all things you can easily display and share with your students online. 

4. Google Drive 

You need to start thinking about an alternative to all you would have in a classroom. My absolute essential for "real life" teaching is a whiteboard, which is tricky to use via Skype or other online platforms.

You can push this further by sharing presentations and documents with students in their private folder in Google Drive. This means each student will get their own Google Drawings document–used as a whiteboard when needed.

5. Screen share

For online education, Skype has a fantastic feature most people don't know about. Skype allows you to share your screen easily. Although your students will have the files and other classroom resources in their google folder, when not logged in to the right google account, you can also share your screen with them.

This feature comes in handy at times, and is excellent for sharing websites in other languages. You can also use it to explain the tech side of things, when applicable. 

How to Teach Languages Online

6. Always keep moving forward

Consistency is key! Once you've found something that works, don't grow complacent. Continuously look for ways to make your teaching better, update your resources, and look for new ones. 

On the business side of things, dedicate time to learning and growing. It could be online courses you're studying, blog posts, or videos saved to read/watch later. It is always worth investing some time in learning to keep evolving and improve your business. 

7. Treat your students well

As with a traditional classroom, treat your students well. Think of them as your employer, as well as your customers, since they are the ones paying for your services. You can make each student feel special by learning about them, consciously interacting with them, and teaching them to the best ways that they learn. 

For efficiency, you could use a little notebook or document to keep track of these things. You can use similar resources for different students, but do it with utmost carefulness. Not only that, but it's essential to keep a good record of what you teach your students. This helps to monitor their progress and also to give better value for money for your students. 

As a tutor, you can even share extra information outside of the norms, likes places to stay in their travel destinations (this is an especially good tool for destinations that speak the language you are teaching–it’s first-hand language learning inspiration!).

8. Calculate a fair price

Like two sides of a coin, you can start by experimenting with existing platforms, such as italki. This will help you decide if teaching online is worth it to pursue. You need to do this before you go ahead and invest time, effort, and money in things like your website and email list.

On the other side, relying on tutor 'marketplaces' alone will not earn a stable income. This is why I usually don't recommend it in a bid to build a sustainable online teaching business.

9. Mix your media

In this digital world, there's so much available that it remains a shame to give students the same resources. Make use of videos, audio, and articles as reasons for conversation.
Whatever you use, ensure it focuses on real examples of the language. Keep it fun and exciting with podcasts and YouTube.  Having them review these media materials will not only make you a keen and professional teacher, it will also give your students a chance to ask any questions beforehand.

How to Teach Languages Online
10. Use what you have

In some cases, you may be teaching in real life in some capacity–in which case, awesome! This means you already have plenty of things that can be used when you're teaching online. Consequently, it helps to make the transition to online teaching very easy. 

Having learned how to teach languages online, and assuming that you want to make teaching online a big part of your income, you have to be ready to spend a lot more time online than you do now. Teaching online comes with its own requirements. However, mastery of these will push you further than your competition. With these tips, you’re on the way to success!