In the same year I became an online ESL teacher, the pandemic closed classes around the world. Here’s how to make remote language learning work for you…

Make it Personal

You can easily find cheap, 1-to-1 (or small group) language classes online – this means you have more control for less money. As an English teacher I tutor one student at a time, and of course I change the topics and the speed of lessons to suit their different strengths and weaknesses. On top of that, I make the classes relevant to their interests! I want them to enjoy it as well as learn. Before your first lesson with a teacher, think about your goals and what you want to tackle.

Gain Cultural Insights

You don’t have to live in Costa Rica to learn Spanish, but you can be taught by a native speaker from anywhere in the world. If you are ‘shopping’ for a teacher online you can choose someone with any background – when I started an online Spanish class, I picked a teacher from Spain because of my future travel plans. Some of my students chose me specifically because they want to learn British English, and because I can tell them how English is used here, and why. If your teacher is in Germany or France or wherever right now, pick their brains for real details about daily life!

Ask Questions; Do Homework

This is an advantage in any situation where you have a lot of time with your teacher: capitalise on that attention! Ask any and all questions which help you to understand – you might learn something extra which wasn’t on the lesson plan. Plus, if your teacher is not marking or grading work for loads of students, they have plenty of time to check your work. This is your opportunity to practise writing and to get help from a professional, native speaker.

Use the Technology

A video call is not the same as an in-person meeting, that’s clear – but there is nothing that can be done in a real language classroom which can’t also be done in a virtual one. When I first learned French we were still using just textbooks and CDs – now you have infinite resources and tools. As a student you can contribute by sharing videos you’ve seen, podcasts you’ve found and anything else you want to bring into the lesson.

Save Time and the Planet

What is the biggest difference between my classroom training (I did the CELTA) and my online teaching? I am not commuting and I am not PRINTING. Embrace the digital resources, the saved paper, and the fact that you don’t have to travel to a classroom! Not only is it currently safer to learn online, everyone saves time and money.