www.costaricatesol.com - ITA Costa Rica

| Updated: 12/26/2022

5 Tips for Being a Successful Online Teacher

Written by International TEFL Academy Costa Rica

Now is definitely the time to get TEFL-certified and start your virtual teaching career, so please allow us to share our top tips for being a successful ESL/EFL online teacher at this time!

Teaching Online during COVID

1-Establish a Routine

Like any class, whether it is English, science, virtual or in-person, you will want to establish a class routine.  On the first day of class, discuss your expectations with your students and review those expectations over the first few classes.  

For instance, when students sign in, they should turn on their cameras and mute their mics until class is ready to start and you expect them to participate.  They should know where to find class materials and how to turn in assignments, and the class should agree to speak in English at all times, especially while working in small groups in the breakout rooms.

To assist in classroom management, consider having an activity ready to go, like a "bell ringer," to get the students engaged and on task.  This activity could review what you did the day before or maybe even a quick, fun puzzle or game.  Likewise, students should know what they have to do before they are allowed to sign out at the end of class.  Perhaps they need to complete a quick assessment at that point, as well.

2-Organize all Materials

Also to aid in classroom management and to make the best use of your time together, organize all of your class materials electronically.  Utilize a folder in Google or on your desktop to categorize all of your materials in a system that makes sense to you.  For instance, I have folders for Grammar, Reading, Writing, Videos etc.  This makes it easy to find and access anything with very little notice!   Granted, this may take some time for veteran teachers, because you may need to scan and transfer some of your activities to a digital format.

For a day's lesson, consider putting all materials in one file, whether that is a slideshow or a word document.  You can also send this file to your students before class if they prefer to print materials.   If using videos or audios, download the files before class and insert it into that file, so you don't have to worry about buffering and delays while showing to your students.  Bonus tip:  don't forget to click on "Share computer audio" when showing a video or playing an audio clip!

3-Continue Pair & Group work

As believers in the Communicative Approach to learning a language, we find it imperative to get the students talking as much as possible in the target language.  This can be a bit more challenging in an online environment, but make an effort to include the same type of activities as you would with in-person classes. Have the students work in pairs and small groups by utilizing the breakout rooms.  On Zoom, you are allowed to move in and out of the breakout rooms, as the teacher, so you can monitor the students as they work together.  

4-Know your platform well

Whatever platform you are using to teach, whether it is Zoom, Google Hangouts or the like, take the time to familiarize yourself with all of the features and get comfortable before you have to start your classes.  Check out tutorials, and  practice with your friends or colleagues.  Make an effort to get acclimated to all of the available tools.  For instance, make sure you are comfortable sharing your screen.   We also love letting the students participate with the annotation tool in Zoom to engage in games and activities.   The whiteboard is a great option for sharing quick notes and reviewing too.

Our Favorite ESL Websites

5-Make use of online teaching tools

Although transitioning to online teaching can be challenging, it's important that teachers familiarize themselves with all of the great tools that are available!

To create and give quick in-class assessments, we recommend websites and apps like Quizziz and Kahoot.  As a teacher, you can create a free account to design multiple choice, true/false and either/or assessments that can be given to students in real-time, which creates a fun and competitive environment.  Quizlet is another good option for creating online flashcards and activities. We use dice and coins for lots of games in the classroom, so we love this website that allows the students to roll a die or flip a coin as if they were a normal classroom. These kinds of tools and activities will keep your class lively and engaging, and still allow the students to practice their language skills.


Ready to start teaching online but haven't taken our TEFL certification course yet?  Contact us right away to schedule a call and learn about your options!

New Course Option! 6-week virtual course

Teaching Online to Supplement your Income


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