how to use zoom for online language lessons

Most people’s lives have been turned upside down this year thanks to Covid-19.

For leisure activities, this has been a difficult time. Hobbies have suffered considerably from the effects of lockdown, with many sports still off the table (community squash, cricket, and rugby among these).

Those pastimes that have returned post-lockdown may now be available again to enjoy, but in unrecognizable forms: socializing in restaurants and bars, cinemas, and beauty treatments all look completely different to how they did pre-pandemic.

Luckily, language lessons haven’t suffered so dramatically. Although face-to-face lessons are now out of the question, many language learners were already using the Internet to practice their skills with others before the virus hit.

What is Zoom?

The video calling platform, Zoom, has become a firm favorite during lockdown. Originally used for business meetings, it surged in popularity during the onset of Covid-19 as people used it to stay in touch with friends during shelter-in-place orders.

Compatible with most devices, it’s now become so popular that people are beginning to use the phrase “to Zoom” to describe any video call, regardless of the provider.

If you’re a teacher or student that hasn’t yet used Zoom for language lessons, here is our guide to the key features you’ll need to make your online practice a success.

Basic Zoom features

Before checking in to your first Zoom meeting, you’ll need to download the Zoom Client for Meetings from the company’s download center.

Zoom’s free plan offers unlimited meetings for two participants (teacher and student), and meetings up to 40 minutes in length for 3+ attendees. For longer meetings of more than 3 participants, you’ll need a subscription.

Scheduling a meeting and inviting participants

To schedule a meeting, log in to your Zoom account via a web browser and select the ‘Meetings’ option on the left-hand-side menu.

Click the button ‘Schedule a Meeting’ and fill in the relevant details, controlling the following settings to suit your need:

Select ‘Save’, and the confirmation screen will appear. Under the section ‘Invite Link’, you have an option to copy the meeting URL. Send this to your participants, the URL will allow them to join your class.

Since June 2020, Zoom has made waiting rooms and passcodes mandatory on their meetings for security reasons. Don’t forget to give your guests this important information!

Connecting to a Zoom meeting

Click the meeting URL to connect to the meeting. The Zoom app will open and prompt you to enter the passcode. Once you’re in, you’ll be placed ‘on hold’ in a virtual waiting room until the meeting host lets you in.

Zoom meeting features

Once inside the meeting, you will be able to see, hear and interact with other participants via video.

The app defaults to “Speaker View”, where the video displays only the person speaking at that moment. Most people use the “Gallery View” instead, where you can see all participants’ video links at the same time.

The menu bar at the bottom of the Zoom app screen contains the features you’ll need to participate in a Zoom meeting. Here are the most common commands:

Advanced Zoom features for language teachers

If you’re hosting a lesson, here are some useful Zoom features to help you recreate the classroom environment:

Have you used Zoom for your language learning? Share your experience with us, and any tips or hacks for other readers!

About the author

Siobhan Wood is a British manufacturing industry writer, with 10 years’ experience in export manufacturing and a keen interest in linguistics. Fluent in English, French and Spanish, Siobhan helps businesses to connect with their customers through digital marketing.

To find out more about how Siobhan can help you improve your business communications, get in touch.

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