Have your language lessons moved online? Or have you started taking a new course with an online platform? Learning online is becoming more and more popular, and in many areas it may be the only way to take classes at the moment. However, it can feel a little different to a face-to-face course, so I’ve put together a checklist to help you get the most out of your online classes.
Practice makes perfect
Before starting online lessons, check what platform you’re going to use. Find out if you need to download any software and if possible, test it before the lesson. There are also lots of YouTube tutorials on how to use platforms such as Skype, Zoom, Webex or Hangouts.
If you can, it’s best to use a laptop or desktop computer. The screen is bigger and it’s easier to type or share documents. However, a phone or tablet will also work well with most platforms.
Headsets can help to make sure you can hear your teacher well and they can hear you. They also reduce background noise. The headset that came with your mobile phone is fine for this!
If possible, connect to the internet with an ethernet cable rather than wifi. This will make the connection more stable by linking your computer directly to the router.
Lights, camera, action!
It will help your teacher if you use a camera. They can see if you understand well, and it makes the lesson more natural. If you’re in a group, it’s also nice to see your classmates. It’s best to sit somewhere light, and position your camera at eye-level. Don’t sit too close to the camera.
Preparation is key
Aim to come to the ‘classroom’ five minutes before the lesson starts. That way, if you have problems connecting, you won’t lose any lesson time. This is especially important for the first online lesson.
Close any documents or programmes you don’t need as they can slow down your device.
Prepare your workspace as you would if you went to class: make sure you have paper and a pen, a drink, and switch your phone to silent.
Keep calm and carry on
Don’t worry if you have problems with the platform or your device. Often leaving the platform and coming back again solves the problem. If there’s a problem with your device, you could try restarting it. If the connection is bad, try using an ethernet cable or turning the router off and on again.
If you can’t hear the teacher or other students well, try using the chat box to ask for help or give others tips. Here are some useful phrases to use in online classes.
Check with your teacher which notes they will send you, so you know what you should write down during the lesson. Your teacher may send you notes or homework after your lesson, so it’s a good idea to have a folder where you save all these documents together. Some students like to print them out too.
Staying in touch
Check you know how to contact your teacher or school outside of the lessons. This is important in case you have questions, can’t come to a lesson or have technical problems.
If you don’t already have one, you could set up a group chat on an instant messaging app for everyone in your class. This is a good way to catch up on anything you miss in class or homework. It’s also great for practising the language with your classmates.
Learning online may feel different to face-to-face lessons, but it can be a great opportunity to stay in touch with others and keep learning while many of us are at home.
Do you have any other tips for online language classes?