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December 06, 2008

Q and A - Teaching Classes via the Internet or the Phone

Hello Readers,

This month's question is about teaching classes through the Internet or the telephone and comes from Niki. Thanks, Niki for sending in this question!

Dear Carol,

I've just thought up of a service and it's teaching conversational English via phone and the net. I find that lots of people are getting tired of commuting to their lessons so a service like this is assisting.

I'm getting great feedback and although I'm a qualified teacher,...

...could you give me some tips as to how I can make these lessons effective and what they can get out of an hour of conversation? What books should I be working from please?

If you could give me any ideas, it would be appreciated.

Thanks for your time.


Hi Niki,

You are absolutely right - there is a need for ESL classes that are taught via the telephone and the Internet. Unfortunately, there aren't many (if any) books on this subject. I would recommend doing some research online for ESL courses that are already delivered through these mediums. If you google 'online esl classes' (as I just did), you will get thousands of results. Check these sites out and look for clues about their curriculum, method, tuition fees, etc. You might even want to try out an online course as a student to help you understand how using a new medium might affect the classes you teach.

I do have some experience in this area and I can tell you a bit about it. In 2003, a colleague and I developed a curriculum for telephone and internet classes for students in Beijing who were unable to leave their homes or offices due to SARS. We created lessons using powerpoint which we added to a website. Students were only able to access the lessons once they had an access code. The classes were for between 1 and 4 students. We would arrange a time for an individual call or a conference call and go through the power point together. If I remember correctly, we offered 30 minute lessons (as any longer was quite difficult to do over the phone)- 20 minutes was going through the power point which included exercises, substitution drills, role-plays, etc. The last ten minutes included free talk, questions and/or extra drills and exercises based on their individual needs. At the time, we didn't use skype, but I know that many teachers do use this for online lessons as it's possible to exchange files, chat (via typing) and talk from phone to phone and/or computer to computer, etc. You can also use webcams on skype so that you can see each other, which is obviously a bonus for language students.

Check out skype at www.skype.com.

Hope that helps!

Carol Rueckert
Writer, ESL Lesson Plan
E-mail: crueckert@eslemployment.com
Blog: www.esl-lesson-plan.com

"I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand." - Chinese Proverb

*To read more ESL Questions and Answers, please click HERE!

About the author of this entry:
Carol, a native English-speaker hailing from the small town of St. Joseph in Minnesota, USA, worked in China for more than eight years. During that time, she worked at universities, private language schools, grade schools, international schools, and did private tutoring as well. Besides teaching, she also worked as a Head teacher, an Education Manager, a Material Development Manager and an Editor. In addition to working on this newsletter, she also writes a monthly column for Time Out Beijing, authors ESL textbooks for publishing houses in China, and is the Web Content Manager for Pearson Education. She has a BA from the College of St. Benedict/ St. John's University, a CELTA, and an MA in TESOL from Oxford Brookes University. Look for her posts on the ESL-Jobs-Forum discussion boards!

Posted by crueckert at December 6, 2008 04:41 PM

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