How to Structure Your Classes When You Teach Language Online

How to Structure Your Classes When You Teach Language Online

Are you interested in learning how to teach languages online? Are you looking for some guidance on how to structure your class sessions? Or maybe you’re a teacher wondering how to get the most out of your teaching time? Either way, it is important to structure the class session in a way that will help your students learn and understand the material best. There are different ways to do this, and the approach you take will depend on the student’s needs and abilities. In this article, we will discuss some of the most common ways to structure a class, so that you can choose the method that works best for you and your student. Keep in mind these suggestions for being successful at teaching language online!

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The First Class Session with Your Student 

For online language teachers, one of the most important things one can do is to structure the first teaching session with a student in a way that will set the tone for future sessions. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Establish expectations: Before you begin, even before your first class, understand what your student is looking to learn. Email or call your student with the contact information provided in your CORE CONNECT New Course Welcome Email to learn what they expect from their first and future classes. Discuss what topics will be covered in sessions, how long the session will last, and what type of interaction you expect from the student. Ask them to complete a placement test for English, French, German or Spanish. This will help to ensure that both you and the student are on the same page from the start. We have noticed from experience that if you leave this initial PRE-CLASS contact out, your first class may be your last class with the student.

  2. Make sure you let your student know that you will not have materials in the first class. You can select materials to use (online or physical materials) based on your first class with the student’s feedback.

  3. (Online Classes Only) There are a few housekeeping items to check off before meeting with your student online for the first time. A major one is to make sure you know how to use our online video platform CONNECT Video and CONNECT ClassRoom. Click the links to review our support documentation and try a practice class on your own or with a friend before you meet on the platform for your first time.

  4. Now it is time for your first class. In your first session, get to know each other: Find out interests and reestablish learning goals. This will help you to personalize your teaching approach and make the student feel more comfortable.

  5. Assess the situation: To tailor your teaching to the individual needs of the student, it’s important to assess their current level of understanding of the subject matter. You student should have completed an assessment if they are learning English, German, Spanish, or French. Use our placements tests found on the CORE Languages website as a starting place. You can further assess through casual conversation, asking review questions, or administering your own short quiz. However, remember to keep the first session light so as to not scare the student off on day one.

  6. Choose appropriate activities: Once you have an understanding of the student’s level of knowledge, you can choose activities that are geared toward their needs. These might include working on practice problems, discussing key concepts, or reviewing specific material. There are plenty of resources available to help keep your activities engaging and interactive so do your best to incorporate these into your classes.

  7. Wrap up: At the end of the session, take a few minutes to debrief the student. Ask them if they have any questions or concerns, and give them some homework assignments to work on before the next session; even if it is to simply think of some areas they are interested in covering in the future. Thank them for their time and let them know when they can expect to see you again.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your first class is productive and enjoyable for both you and your student!

Canva Design DAFQwqBJtFQEstablishing a Routine 

As a teacher, one of the most important things you can do is to establish a routine for your online language courses. This will help your students to feel comfortable and secure, and it will also make it easier for you to manage the class. Of course, every student is different, so you’ll need to be flexible in your approach. 

First, try to be consistent with the time of your classes. If possible, hold your classes at the same time each week. This will help your students to know what to expect, and it will make it easier for them to focus on the class activities. At the beginning of each session, start by greeting your student and asking how their day is going, perhaps in the target language. This will help put them at ease and let them know that you’re interested in them as a person, not just a student. 

Second, take some time to recap the material covered in the previous session and review any homework previously set. This will help to refresh your student’s memory and give you an opportunity to assess their understanding. Once done, move on to new material, using a variety of activities to keep your students engaged. This should take up the majority of the class. 

Finally, end each class with a review of the material covered and set a new homework task to be completed before your next meeting. By following these simple steps, you can establish a productive routine that will help to ensure that your students are getting the most from their classes. 

Canva Design DAFQwtp5Y6YSticking to the Subject Matter 

Excellent online language teachers stay on topic during classes. This can be difficult, especially if you’re teaching a complex topic or if your student is struggling to understand the material. However, straying from the subject matter can only lead to confusion and frustration for both you and your student. It’s important to be patient and take the time to explain things thoroughly. 

If your student asks about a subject matter that is off topic, let your student know that you will make a note to review this in a future class if relevant and bring the class back to your current planned session. If you regularly stray from your lesson-plan, students may see the overall course as sloppy and unstructured, despite catering to the student and your best intentions.

If you need to, make a summary of the main points covered in the class before moving on and make sure to revisit the topic during the following session to ensure full understanding. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help from other teachers or experts. With a little practice, you’ll be able to keep even the most challenging classes focused and enjoyable for everyone involved.

STAYMinimizing Distractions 

As a teacher, one of the most important things you can do is to minimize distractions during classes. This means creating a learning environment that is free from distractions such as noise, movement and bright lights. It also means being aware of your own body language and ensuring that you are not inadvertently sending mixed signals to your students. For instance, if you are looking at your watch or tapping your foot, students may get the impression that you are bored or impatient. Instead, try to maintain eye contact and keep an open and engaged body posture. Online language teaching can be challenging in this way.

This is also true for students! Regular interruptions via email or family members (for at home classes) are never helpful as you do not have your student’s full attention. Make gentle recommendations or offer different class times to avoid distractions if possible.

By minimizing distractions, you can create a more focused environment in which your students are more likely to engage and retain information.

Canva Design DAFQwzobqq4Taking Breaks 

While this may seem counterintuitive, take breaks during classes! When you’re teaching, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the material and lose track of time. However, if you take a break every 20 minutes or so, it’ll help you stay focused and on track. Plus, it’ll give your student a chance to take a breather and absorb what they’ve learned. 

There is no perfect time to take breaks, but we recommend that if you’re feeling bogged down during a class or your student seems distracted, take a break! This will help return focus to the task at hand and your students will thank you for it.

Examples may be a 5-minute pause for the student to review notes and completed activities.

Canva Design DAFQw-gwPdkEnding the Session

At the end of each teaching session, it’s important to take a few minutes to wrap up and debrief your student. This gives you both a chance to reflect on what was learned and identify any areas that still need work. It also helps to build rapport and keep communication open. Here are a few tips for ending your sessions on a positive note:

  • Thank your students for their participation and effort. This shows that you value their time and are grateful for their efforts.

  • Summarize what was covered during the session. This helps to reinforce the material and gives your student a chance to ask any questions about what was learned.

  • Discuss any homework or practice that should be done before the next session. This sets expectations for the next meeting and helps to ensure that progress is made between sessions.

  • Finally, say goodbye and wish your student luck in their studies. This leaves them with a positive feeling and encourages them to continue working hard.

Canva Design DAFQw0pNFM8Following up with students

After each class, it is important to take some time to follow up with your students. This gives you an opportunity to answer any lingering questions they may have and to assess their understanding of the material. It also allows you to provide feedback on their performance and to identify any areas that need improvement.

In addition, following up with students shows that you are invested in their success and that you care about their progress. When students feel comfortable communicating with you, they are more likely to engage in the learning process and take ownership of their education. This can go a long way towards building rapport and establishing a strong teacher-student relationship which is essential to the learning process.

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