Online English Teacher 101 – Steps for the First Lesson With New Students

Are you one of those talented teachers who want to teach online but they haven’t had any luck? Are you a good English speaker, with a great methodology, but you are not very confident when it comes to the sales part of your lesson? If the answers to all questions above are yes, then keep reading this post to find out how can you turn the first lesson into a regular student. You will see how can you become a successful online English teacher!

Before you even start the lesson make sure that:

  1. Your home office is clean and presentable.
  2. You are clean and presentable.
  3. Your desktop is clean and presentable – you will be sharing your screen and you want to be organized and neat.

I know that the steps above seem ridiculous, but you’d be surprised at how many people think that working online is not a real job. You are doing something which takes up your free time and you get paid for it – that’s the dictionary definition of working.

Finally, here are the practical steps of leading a first lesson with your student successfully:

Greetings – Meet and greet properly, with a smile and chat about your day. Introduce professionally and help your student introduce as well by eliciting questions.

Discussing the results of the level test – Presenting the mistakes in a positive way, as areas of improvement motivates your student to learn. Inform the student that you will focus mostly on the learning gaps in the grammar, so he/she won’t need to learn things he/she already knows.

The motivation for learning – What is the student’s motivation for learning? How do your lessons fit in his/her plan?

Learning goals – What does the student want to achieve? How much time does the student have and are those requests realistic?

Teaching the first lesson – You can start with the first lesson in your curriculum, let the student choose the lesson or prepare a special first lesson you always want to do with your new students. Just make sure that you spend at least 20 minutes of your first lesson actually teaching – this also helps your student imagine how would your future lessons look like.

Teaching style – Talk about your teaching methods – in my case, my teaching methods are connected with the additional opportunities I offer. I focus on learning grammar in context, a lot of communication and practicing all 4 language skills. I also coach students – I help them achieve learner autonomy and study by themselves.

It is also important to showcase the following things:

The additional opportunities you offer – In my case that’s interactive homework, Edmodo classroom for group communication, 2 free group lessons per month (if you want to do that), individualized curriculum, Quizlet for vocabulary, personal student portfolio with lesson summaries on Edmodo and even audio/video recordings of the lesson if the student wishes to review the content.

Ask for feedback and follow-up questions from the student – ask the student if there is something he/she thinks about your methods, first lesson, and what he/she wants to do next time. This is simply a positive rapport and it shows that you wish to continue lessons with this student.

Discuss your availabilities for future lessons – Try to accommodate the student, but also let the student know that you have open time slots and you cannot do much if nothing fits their calendar. Both sides have to compromise! 🙂

Offer assistance with booking, platform or conference app use (Zoom, Skype or whatever you decide to use.) Make sure to write this in the message after the lesson as well. Some students struggle with this and they always appreciate the help. You can make 3-minute tutorials by just recording your screen – you will do it once and you can use the videos forever.

Being an online English teacher does not make the teaching process less meaningless and easy. The most important thing is that you MUST have a syllabus, curriculums for all levels + online materials and textbooks. You can’t just call the student and chat about what they ate for 60 minutes. I mean, you could, but it’s likely that you won’t see them ever again. Ever.

The presentation below is something I created recently for a friend:

I have been working successfully through Preply for the past 3 years and I have been extremely pleased with my regular students and the staff. If you are interested in using the platform to find more students, let me know and I could help you join. I already helped many teachers create a successful tutoring profile on Preply!

Last, but not least, be POSITIVE and SMILE! Remember that the first lesson is stressful for the student as well. Nobody said that being an online English teacher is easy. Virtual classroom is just another type of 21st century learning environment.

Think about it as a first date – you are there because the student liked you, your accent and your qualifications .

The student made the first move by inviting you to a lesson. Now you need to close the deal by taking your relationship to the next level. Sounds better?

Online English Teacher 101 - Steps for the First Lesson With a New Students

Do you love using specific methods or edtech in your online classroom? Do you follow certain steps in your first lessons or you like to be spontaneous? Let me know in the comments, I would love to chat!

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Alice Glass

About Alice Glass

Alice is a 27 years old preschool teacher (Pre-K) with a B.Ed. She is currently enrolled in her Master studies, with a double major, one of them being English teaching methodology. She is also an online ESL teacher and blog writer for British Council. Last but not least, she is a mother of a very energetic toddler.

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