Teacher Explains Techniques To Excel in Online English Classes

In both Thailand and the rest of the world, the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted face-to-face teaching, giving way to online learning.

However, students have faced various obstacles, including fatigue from virtual classes and emotional exhaustion from lack of social interaction.

In response, education experts have compiled some recommendations to make virtual classrooms more interesting for students, especially foreign language learners, driving them to achieve better academic performance.

Education New Zealand (ENZ), the New Zealand Embassy in Thailand teamed up with the Sisaket Provincial Office and the Ubon Ratchathani Provincial Office to organize an online webinar titled “Conquering Mount English for Thai teachers and learners from New Zealand.”

Aimed at 300 Thai secondary school English teachers, the event’s objective was to share details about the practices New Zealand has implemented to improve its face-to-face and online teaching techniques.

It was facilitated by Ms. Erina Hunt, an Online Blended English Language Programs Coordinator, from the Otago English Language Center’s University, New Zealand.

In the webinar, she leveraged her experience with the common difficulties Thai speakers face when learning English online or in face-to-face classes.

Ms. Hunt focused on speaking skills or difficulties related to transferring Thai phonological patterns into English. Moreover, she discussed case studies, observed real-life video recordings with teaching strategies, and shared tips for Thai teachers to provide more effective teaching.

Best practices in teaching English include a communicative methodology with a student-centered approach, balancing receptive (reading and listening) and productive (speaking and writing) learning, she said.

Besides, Ms. Hunt spoke about recommended skills for English teachers, saying the experience in learning any second language is invaluable.

Teachers must learn to analyze languages and how people learn them, based on strong listening understanding, reading, speaking, writing, vocabulary and grammar acquisition, discourse analysis and phonological systems, she added.

Ms. Hunt also emphasized the importance of creating positive interactions between teachers and English learners and gave advice to help both teachers and students reduce and manage homework stress related to online learning.

According to Ms. Hunt, online teaching is not too difficult to achieve. She insisted that autonomous learning is essential, as is allowing students to reflect as they would in classrooms.

Furthermore, she recommended that teachers establish clear protocols during online teaching sessions, including giving students the opportunity to speak or respond, mute microphones unless someone is talking, remain seated, dress as if they were at school, encourage group work, use audiovisual material, among others.

Ms. Hunt also provided insight into conducting combined online English programs, saying that four hours of autonomous study per week with individualized teacher feedback on productive skills and four hours per week of live (non-pre-recorded) face-to-face classes for 16 weeks shows an improvement in all learning aspects and increases confidence levels in the language.

New Zealand, where English is the lingua franca, has become a leading country in educational innovation and digital technology for learning, gaining fame for raising students’ future skills.