“You almost have that sense of travelling all over the world, even though you are just teaching online at home.”
Learning a language can be difficult but it can also be one of the most enriching things a person can do. Whether it’s a first-time student getting ready to study abroad, or a business professional eager to enhance their career options, fluency in a foreign language can open doors you never thought possible. Finding a good teacher with a comprehensive course of study is key. No mere app or website can match the flexibility and effectiveness of having a real teacher to talk to.
This is something that those of us at English Live understand intuitively. We believe in the power of teachers to make a difference, and the opportunities that can come from connecting passionate instructors with eager students.
Our remote course of study unites students and teachers in a virtual classroom in real time, allowing them to converse back and forth and receive personalized instruction as they learn the language. Not only are English Live teachers qualified, they also truly care about their students’ progress, and have the adaptability and flexibility to make adjustments to their lesson plan in order to help their students succeed.
We sat down with one English Live teacher, Stephanie, to learn why she chose to become a teacher with us and what she loves about working with her students in a virtual classroom.
For Stephanie, the initial appeal of English Live was its ability to let her work from anywhere as she gained experience traveling the world.
“…It kept me in the online classroom because I enjoy it a lot, and then I realized that you can get the feeling of traveling with it, as well,” she said. “It was mainly to get experience, but also to start something new and see where it went.”
Through her teaching, Stephanie is able to form close bonds with her students and enjoy the satisfaction of watching them progress from class to class. No matter where she is working from, she could immerse herself in her students’ culture through their shared virtual classroom.
“I learn a lot more about their cultures, and about what really is going on in places around the world,” she said. “You gain insight about other countries…including lots of random facts about everyday life there — I don’t’ know where I would have gotten that information, other than as a tourist there.”
Beyond learning about other cultures, Stephanie has been able to get to know her students. The bond between students and teachers is perhaps the one thing that might be missing in an online classroom, but Stephanie says this is not the case for her.
“It’s a people role, you’re always with and talking to people. It’s helping individuals which I really enjoy,” she said. “…Forming close connections with my students is incredibly fulfilling.”
In addition, allowing teachers the flexibility to work remotely also benefits their students.
“…It’s the first job where I got a sense of healthy work-life balance, and because of that I can be more present in my classes. I have more energy as I’m not tired from the commute to work.” Stephanie says. “At the end of the day, it’s a better lesson for the students if they have my full attention.”
One of the greatest benefits of English Live is its appeal to teachers who are looking to travel and work remotely. “You almost have that sense of traveling all over the world, even though you are just teaching online at home.” she says. Stephanie has used her time with English Live to be able to visit family in Cape Town and Cyprus, while she is living and working in England, taking her virtual classroom with her wherever she goes.
This freedom to live and travel as she likes allows Stephanie to work with her students’ various cultural backgrounds as she ensures they comprehend each lesson and walk away feeling like they’ve learned something. She’s dedicated to meeting her students’ needs as individuals as well, tailoring her questions to their unique learning styles.
When asked about the best way to teach English, Stephanie says it’s all about organization.
“I think it’s always being prepared, having your lesson materials planned and having the ability to explain new information in a simple way. This will help somebody who’s struggling with the concept” she says. “… but it’s also about being adaptable because things don’t always go to plan. A student may not understand an idea in the way that you would usually explain it, so you have to change your approach.”
Stephanie also has a plan for the moments when things get lost in translation.
“For me, it’s about concept checking,” she says. “So not just saying, ‘Do you understand?’ Because they can say ‘Yes,’ especially if they are very shy and don’t want to look like they don’t know what’s going on… Sometimes you must ask them another question using the same information or vocabulary. They should find it easy to answer but if not then they may not have understood. It’s up to us to identify this and help them in the best way possible.”
With the option of group classes or teaching one-on-one, English Live gives teachers the flexibility to tailor each class to students’ needs. Stephanie describes her teaching method as one of teaching concepts alongside the language.
“First of all, thinking back on [the] question, did I ask it clearly enough? Should I break it down a little bit more? Should I be using different language? Maybe it seems that they understand the question, but just haven’t understood the concept. Then I have to think, ‘How can I teach the concept in a different way for this student to understand?’ It’s about trying to test if they really know the language or the concept.”
According to Stephanie, her students have a lot to teach her, too. She’s become more aware of global events and regional cultures.
“I learn about what is really going on in places around the world… I’ve got a sense of what is happening in their countries. I learn first-hand what happens on special holidays or celebrations.”
Of course, the highlight of Stephanie’s teaching is being able to form friendships with her students and watch them succeed. Because her classes are live, she can check in with her students about their successes and achievements and celebrate along with them. The bonds she forms with them are as authentic as if they shared a physical classroom.
She said of one of her students, Andre, from Brazil,
“We instantly connected on a teacher and student level. It was really easy to talk to him and he always had fun stories to share. We formed a real friendship. He just wanted to have conversations and use English and he would always make the class enjoyable. He made me smile and equally, I hope I did the same for him.”
Aside from the obvious benefits of opening doors and creating new opportunities, learning English is a step that can also make a student’s world a little bigger. By bonding with fellow classmates and teachers, students and teachers can form friendships that transcend cultural barriers and even language itself.
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