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Strategies for Effective Online ESL Teaching

by Pramod Subedi | 06 Apr 2021
Resource Description: This resource aims to provide some strategies or activities for ESL teachers to teach online classes effectively.
Audience: Secondary, University
Audience Language Proficiency: Advanced, Intermediate
Teaching Tip:

Any mode of teaching, either online teaching or in-person teaching, has to be effective, engaging and interesting. Moreover, second language or foreign language teaching should be much more collaborative and interactive as language learning itself is for interaction or communication. In online EFL/ESL classes, the teacher and students are physically distanced, which might create certain restrictions teaching learning activities that could be done in in-person classes. However, if the teacher and the students have learned the basic knowledge, ideas and skills for online language teaching, and if they are equipped with online tools, platforms and resources, the online English classes can be much more effective, engaging, interactive and interesting.

The first important thing for effective online language teaching is access and skills to use the online teaching-learning equipment, platforms and tools. Besides, the teachers should learn the key skills of online teaching. They should keep smiling while teaching with the video on. The teacher should give priority to good rapport building with students using various ideas, like; using their names and personalizing activities, using emojis to encourage them, interacting with them regularly and listening to the students’ interests and voices. It means the students should be engaged in learning actively and effectively. To maximize students’ engagement in learning, an English teacher should practice teaching differently, assess differently and interact differently.

To bring varieties of taste in teaching, interacting and assessing in online classes, English teachers can use many interactive digital learning tools, activities and resources. Interactive digital learning tools, like; Quizizz, Kahoot, Google Docs, Breakout rooms, Playposit, etc. can make the online language class interactive, collaborative and interesting. Similarly, fun games or activities, like; Secret Word Guessing, Finding Somethings around You, PowerPoint Games, etc. can make the learners active and engaged in online language classes. Similarly, the use of online language resources, like; YouTube, TED talks, VOA, Lyrics Training, ELLLO, Breaking News English, Cambridge Assessment English, and so many other is more possible and much more effective in online classes than in in-person classes.

Some effective online ESL teaching strategies or activities can be listed as follows:

  •   Set clear learning goals
  •   Plan your lessons just like F2F lessons
  •   Teach differently to engage students
  •   Assess their learning differently to engage students
  •   Interact with students differently to engage them
  •  Manage your online classes effectively
  • Use gestures keeping your video on
  • Build good rapport with students (use their names and personalize activities, keep smiling during class, use emojis to encourage them and listen to the students’ interests and voices)
  • Provide ongoing feedback
  •  Use fun games or activities like; Quizizz, PowerPoint Games, Online Round Table, Scavenger Hunt game, etc.
  • Involve students in collaborative activities (use Google docs, Break out rooms, Google Jamboard, Edmodo, etc.)
  • Use varieties of resources like; Voice of America (VOA), American English Website, Readability Test Tools, YoGlish, etc.
  • Form supporting learning community, like; messenger group, Google classroom.

To sum up, online EFL classes can be made a successful practice if the teacher has the knowledge, ideas and skills of online language teaching and making them interactive and interesting by making the students actively engaged. For this, the teacher needs access and skills to use the interactive online tools, platforms and resources besides all the other skills and characteristics needed in in-person classes as well.


British Council. A Webinar record on ‘Teaching live English lessons online’ (Speaker: Cecilia Nobre).

Cambridge Assessment English. ‘Teaching English Online’ Course developed offered by Future Learn (Instructors: Marie Therese Swabey and Lindsay Warwick).

TESOL France’s webinar record on ‘More fun with teaching online’.

US Department of State, American English. A Webinar record on ‘Online Tips for Engaging Students in Online English Language Learning’ (Speakers: Dr. Joan Kang Shin and Dr. Jered Borup).

US Department of State, American English. A Webinar record on ‘Using Educational Technology in the English as a Foreign Language Classroom’ (Speaker: Dr. Volker Hegelheimer).