Online education is a 170-year-old concept started in Great Britain where an instructor sent and received students’ assignments by mail, though it was not as modernized as teach English online. But technology came in place in the 1960s where the University of Illinois created a private network within the University for their students where they could access the relevant classroom materials. Since then the concept of distance learning slowly started picking up its pace. 

Teach English online

Because of the powerful use of the internet since the year 2000, many massive online educational organizations like Udemy, Udacity, Coursera, etc are offering distance learning. Apart from these companies, Asia has 70 open universities and India has 14 of them offering top-quality distance education.

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, all educational institutions have taken a big U-turn from classroom learning to e-learning. As a result, schools and colleges started reaching students instead of students reaching them. Interestingly, organizations have also started reaching the unreached which allowed students in the rural areas to participate in the virtual classrooms. Thanks to the digital age, many in rural areas have access to the internet and mobile phones!

Having said this, let’s talk about recent trends in online English teaching.

Teachers are becoming internet savvy

Even though the online communication media was available before, now they are being widely used not only to teach English online but for different companies as a mode of communication due to the pandemic outbreak. At the time of this writing, there are many companies that turned into a profit-making business while the entire world’s economy collapsed. 

However, online teaching techniques can be intimidating for some teachers because of the unexpected sudden transformation from conventional classrooms to virtual classrooms. But, the fact of the matter is that because everybody is forced to teach English online, it’s, in turn, creating internet-savvy teachers for future classrooms.

Moreover, because of the latest economic crisis, teachers’ perks have been cut off and schools started laying off those who are only comfortable with traditional classroom style. This also imposed teachers to get used to online teaching English tools.

Some popularly used online teaching platforms are given below.

Zoom is reportedly one of the most widely used tools worldwide for online teaching these days. This user-friendly software is popular because of the consistent performance and live chat window and its on-screen whiteboard feature. However, though some downsides of Zoom like security issues have been reported before, for online classes, there is not much risk.

Skype is another good alternative learning resource where you can make live calls and basic presentations. However, Skype has a limit of 250 people. So if there are more than 250 students you may have to look at some other possible tool.

GoToMeeting is another tool that can be used for online purposes. It’s drawing tools and desktop sharing features make it one of the most popular effective teaching platform.

There are many other competitors in the market like Google Hangouts, Team Viewer, Adobe Connect, etc which allow teachers to be online teaching expertise.

Additional income through YouTube and Facebook ($$$$)

Another good method to teach English from home is live streaming because of its vast number of benefits. 

Live streaming is considered to be one of the best ideas by schools because your target audience will be larger. More than just being used as an audio service, streaming services can also be used to share text, visual images, and also live chat.

Streaming services also have an advantage that it can be viewed from any device apart from a laptop or a computer such as mobile phones, tablets, etc. Also, it’s foolproof features make even a non-technical person easy to understand.

And, did you know that you can make an additional income by streaming videos? 

On YouTube, while you are live streaming, viewers have the option to pay small tips to make their message highlighted. On Facebook, you will be able to enable Stars if you can go for their Level Up program, and viewers can pay small tips to get Stars.

Also, on YouTube, you can start a channel and save the streaming videos for future use. And once you achieve a certain number of viewers and subscribers you can set up an AdSense account in order to get your payments.

Classrooms without interruptions

In the past, students used to spend a considerable amount of time in schools and teachers had to control them within the four walls of the classroom. Now, times have changed. Because students are attending the classes independently, it’s the parents who should ensure their child’s active participation.

Moreover, another great advantage of online English teaching is teachers don’t have to be bothered about the classroom interruptions like before because there is no peer-to-peer contact. As children are attending individually from their own home, mostly under some adult supervision, online classes are becoming more disciplined than regular classrooms.

Usually, to teach English online the teachers need to give extra attention to students as grammar lesions can be quite boring for many in the conventional classroom setting. Whereas in the online classes this issue is majorly taken care of as the students are always at home under parent supervision.

Slowly but steadily, teachers and parents need to work together to train students to practice self-discipline and staying organized. 

Classes anytime anywhere without any obstacles

In the late 1970s, there was a time when a strike happened between two political parties, and the schools and colleges were closed indefinitely. And remember, at that point in time there were no mobile phones, TV or internet. Students had to sit at home for a very long period without even getting a glimpse of a school building.

That’s not the case now. As the physical classrooms have been replaced with digital classrooms, the classes can be continued anywhere at any point in time. Closing of schools due to adverse weather conditions and pandemic spread has become a history.

Limited use of infrastructure

It was believed that a suitable environment and infrastructure facilities in schools are necessary for shaping up students’ holistic development. And for the traditional classroom setting schools used to set aside a huge amount on buildings, tables, chairs, reading and writing materials, etc.

But in a matter of months, COVID-19 has changed the entire concept of education. The digital classes have taken over the conventional chalk and board style and replaced it with visual aids. Though these changes initially caused quite a bit of inconvenience, tables, chairs, and school buildings are now replaced with mobile phones, TVs, and online assignments.

Like any other educator, to teach English online English teachers also had to make decisions to mitigate the pandemic spread and switched to use a number of online tools such as:

  1. A Web Whiteboard – A user-friendly online whiteboard app.
  2. Artsy – A great tool for art collection.
  3. Edpuzzle – An excellent tool for creating videos for online classes.
  4. Formative – A great app for creating assignments and getting live results.
  5. Calendly – A tool that helps teachers to schedule meetings.

More responsibilities for parents

Because of the sudden one-eighty degree rotation of the educational system due to the pandemic outbreak, teachers are forced to teach English from home. Many students, on the other hand, are not able to grasp the seriousness of online classes because they are at home the whole day. So parents need to be extra vigilant and ensure their children take the classes very seriously.

Parents/adults supervising the children should keep in mind the below points:

  • Firstly, when the online classes are going on, everybody else should make sure nobody distracts the child at home watching TV or talking loudly on the mobile phone. This will help him/her to focus more.
  • Secondly, even though everybody finds the digital classes a little inconvenient as it’s a new teaching style, make sure other people don’t complain about it in front of their child. For example, if you mock the accent of an English teacher or if you make fun of the way the teacher teaches, this will only help to demotivate your child. Instead, tell them to respect their teachers for the efforts they are taking.
  • Thirdly, a very important point parents should remember is to never let your children study in a closed room. Because of the high level of mobile phone usage and other digital gadgets, they tend to get distracted.
  • Also, parents need to be aware of the assignments given to their children and need to keep abreast of the lessons that are being taught.
  • Finally, keep in mind that your child is sitting at home the whole day. (At the time of this writing, the coronavirus pandemic’s outburst is at its peak and everybody is confined to their homes). So in order to ensure your child remains active throughout the day, set aside some time for exercise. Also, encourage your child to read a lot of books during the daytime so that they don’t get addicted to online games and such things.

Hopefully, an end to the digital divide

The gulf between two groups of people (ones who have access to the internet and ones who don’t have access, such as in rural areas) has always been an issue in India. While in the urban areas students enjoy upgraded school facilities and fully equipped classrooms, those in the rural areas will have to end up studying in low-cost schools where the development is low.  

To battle this issue, some NGOs like eVidyaloka has come up with a vision to teach children in rural areas in order to help them to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They were even successful in inviting passionate volunteers across the country to overcome the language barrier.

After the COVID-19 re-shaped education, the big challenge in front of the government was how to tune the students and teachers to the new online education system. But the initial question was “How about people in the rural areas and how to reach them?” It’s humanly not possible to ensure equal access of the internet to each and every student in India from every nook and corner. But the government has taken some initiatives such as providing internet facilities and TV sets to the students in the rural areas in order to ensure that they don’t fall behind.

Having said that, providing digital resources to the students in rural areas is just one piece of the puzzle. Getting students to the classrooms due to malnutrition and lack of learning abilities still remains a bit of a challenge.

Some cons of teach English online

Because the nationwide lockdown has forced people to take the online teaching approach, there has been a mixed response from teachers and parents. Though there are a lot of positive aspects as mentioned above, many people still prefer traditional classrooms where teachers can walk by each student and monitor them. Some valid points made by teachers and parents are as follows:

  • An excessive amount of screen time to students. It’s going to affect their eyesight.
  • Too much parent involvement. It’s going to affect the parents’ work-life balance.
  • No physical interaction with teachers. So building a student-teacher relationship is going to be tough.
  • Students need to be more self-disciplined. As the students are more likely to get distracted in online classrooms, they need to train themselves to be more self-disciplined rather than always be under adult supervision.
  • No social interaction. Students had a lot of exposure in traditional school settings such as peer-to-peer interactions and outdoor playtimes and cultural activities. Now as the schools remain shut, social isolation remains a huge challenge.

Let’s wrap up teach English online

Though online teaching as a concept was there for more than 100 years, it started picking up its pace after the year 2000 due to the heavy usage of the internet. Since then, many online educational institutions and open universities have sprung up like mushrooms after the rain. Due to the sudden outbreak of COVID-19, everyone around the globe was imposed online classes in order to maintain an uninterrupted education.

On a positive note, this online teaching method has made the teachers digital experts. Because of the economic downturn and the sudden change, some educationalists who are only comfortable with the traditional classroom teaching methodologies were laid off. This forced teachers to be open-minded and made them face the virtual reality.

In fact, as a blessing in disguise, while the entire world’s economy crashed down due to the massive pandemic outbreak, some communication technology companies like Zoom, GoToMeetingSkype, etc turned to highly profitable companies. These technology companies have enhanced their business by helping people stay remotely at the same time helping them connect with one another.

Another great advantage of online teaching is that it helped find educationalists make that extra income. Live streaming is a great way to reach more people and communicate with them and answer their questions. Both Facebook and YouTube allow live streaming facilities where the viewers can pay a small amount of money to get their queries or replies highlighted. Moreover, on YouTube, you can also start a channel and save the streaming videos for future use.

As online teaching demands a lot of parental involvement in terms of keeping their children engaged during online classes, teachers find it easy to continue the sessions without interruptions. This methodology also helped the schools to invest in very minimal infrastructure as digital classrooms don’t really need school buildings, chairs, desks, etc.

Even though some NGOs and other organizations have been focusing on rural online education and have successfully implemented it in a lot of places, due to the COVID-19 outbreak government is trying to reach out to every nook and corner of India. As some issues have been reported from rural areas due to the lack of internet connectivity, we will have to wait and see how far it goes.

There are certain drawbacks of online education which both parents and teachers point out. The first one is extended hours of screentime for students which can have a huge impact on their eyesight. Also, unless the students are self-disciplined, parent involvement becomes much more which will affect their work-life balance. Lack of social interaction in digital learning is also a concern among many. Last but not the least, as the teacher’s physical presence is not there in online classes, it can affect the student-teacher relationship adversely.

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Ranjana Gopinath has been working as a medical transcriptionist for the last 10 years. She is an English Literature graduate who has also successfully completed a professional course in copyediting and proofreading from Rehoboth Academic Services in Bangalore. She has also completed basic computer programming in New Jersey, US and is an aspiring content writer. She is a perennial student who aspires to get into digital marketing. At home, Ranjana is a wife and mother of two sons. She has an immense passion for cooking, cinema, and wine-making. Her articles in Henry Harvin will focus on an array of topics