Looking to simplify your online ESL teaching space? Or perhaps you just got hired (congrats!!) and are looking to arrange your “classroom” for the very first time? Here are my seven “must-haves” for your online ESL classroom!
1. The Hardware – Computer / Headset / Chargers
This one’s pretty obvious. As a bare minimum, you’ll need a laptop or desktop computer and a headset with a microphone. Every company will have their own tech requirements, so check these before you get started. And, don’t forget the chargers! Always have your computer plugged in or a charger nearby while teaching. It’s not a good look to have your laptop die half-way through a class! (Yes, it happened to me once (and only once) before!)
2. A Solid Internet Connection
Again, pretty obvious. With this job, you really can teach from anywhere in the world ….. as long as the internet connection is top notch. This cannot be stressed enough. Lagging, delays and disconnections are just not acceptable in this line of work! Once again, do your homework and check your company’s specific requirements for internet speed and stability. If possible, it’s always best to connect your computer to your router using an ethernet cable.
3. Props, Props and More Props!
When teaching English online (and especially when teaching children), props are key! Most teachers prefer printable, 2D props, but many are moving towards using digital props which can be displayed on a smartphone or tablet and held up to the screen for students to see. There is a wide variety of props and other teaching tools available online in both printable 2D formats and digital formats. Or, if you’re the creative type, consider making your own!
Flashcards are an amazing tool for teaching vocabulary and grammar skills. Some basic sets that I like to have on hand at all times include- alphabet, numbers, shapes, colors, countries, emotions and animals. Remember to get creative with your flashcards and use them for more than just drilling and rote learning. Play some games or incorporate some fun activities using your flashcards. Check out the range of flashcards available from Spark ESL here.
5. Teacher Shirt
Depending on the company you teach with, uniform rules may or may not apply. I prefer to wear the same shirt in each class for the sake of consistency and professionalism. And yes, I have two of the same shirts, so they do get washed! Many great teacher shirts are available on marketplaces such as Etsy.
6. Reward Systems
Reward systems provide a valuable opportunity to create rapport with your students and reward them for their hard work in class. If done well, rewards can also be used to reinforce material that has been taught previously or gently introduce new vocabulary. There is a multitude of reward systems available online, many for free, and there is absolutely nothing stopping you from creating your own! Have fun with rewards and your students will appreciate the effort that you put in! Check out the range of reward systems available from Spark ESL here.
7. Dry Erase Board and Marker
Your dry erase board will be the most versatile tool in your classroom. It can be used class after class by simply wiping it clean in the break between lessons. I use mine to write vocabulary lists, play games, display props or flashcards and as part of my reward systems. There are two good options for using a dry erase board in your classroom. You can simply attach a large one to the wall behind you that you can turn to when needed or you can use a smaller handheld board that can be held up to the screen for your students to see. Easy!
Remember every online ESL teacher’s classroom will look different. What’s most important is that your set up and your supplies work well for you and your students! Have fun with creating a system and a teaching space that you love to teach from!
Tell me in the comments below…. What’s your favorite prop or tool in your online ESL classroom?