In my previous post I start with a Q&A about the benefits of teaching and learning online.
Let’s continue on…
Do you notice a difference between your online students and your face-to-face students?
My online students are more independent and self-reliant. In a classroom, the teacher is always present, which makes students more likely to ask for help. In online classes, if a student cannot remember a word or grammar rule, he can easily look it up without worrying that the teacher thinks he is “cheating.” The virtual method mimics more closely how students will use the language in real life. As a result, it tends to make them feel freer and more confident.
My online students also have the added benefit of my more or less 24-hour online presence, so they get more practice talking with me outside of class. Since this contact is through text chatting, their informal writing skills are often stronger than face-to-face students.
What type of students will you teach?
My experience tells me that I do not need more than two or three class to understand my students level. As a teacher, you have to understand quickly if your student has any trouble with writing, speaking, listening or reading. During the trial class you should try to work all those 4 activities out. And skype, for example, is great for that! You can chat, type, send a link to a newspaper article and you will have an idea soon.
Is “being culturally aware” important?
Teaching online means teaching any sort of students. Bear in mind, what some gestures, expressions mean for you could not mean the same for your students.Cultural awareness is the key. For example, once I had a female student from a Middle East country who did not like to show her face via webcam because I am a male teacher.She did not need to tell me that, I guessed since I have adding her skype account.Other ways to be cultural aware is DO NOT TALK about critical topics in your students country (e.g. asking to your Chinese students: What do you think about Mao Zedong?)
What advice would you give to a student or company that is trying to decide between virtual and face-to-face classes?
Assuming easy access to the Internet, I think virtual classes are more beneficial than face-to-face lessons for many students because there is a greater likelihood to connect with the teacher more often. Virtual classes also eliminate the cost of the teacher traveling to the student’s location, so they can be less expensive. And because no travel is required, students are much less likely to cancel classes, and so they tend to use all of the hours their company authorized. Classes are simply easier to schedule. This is especially true with international assignees, who travel frequently for business. No matter where they are in the world, they can keep taking their language classes. And if the target language is a business need rather than just for getting around the host country, students can further evolve the benefits of their international assignment by continuing with the same teacher online, even once their assignment is over.