The world of teaching English online has been fascinating. My students are all over the world, and they are paying for me to teach them English. I want to be able to give them the best quality education that I can. It has taken a while to discover the various free tools that are out there that can greatly enhance the functionality of the virtual classroom. Here are just a few.
Skype has been an essential tool for the majority of my online teaching. I have found that most students that want to learn a language online already have Skype, and you can download it at Skype.com. Here are some of the features that come standard with Skype:
- Voice and video chat
- Screen sharing
The screen sharing feature allows my student to see what is on my screen. I can pull up curriculum, websites, and pictures, and they are shared instantly.
This website will act as a virtual whiteboard. I looked at five different prominent virtual whiteboards, and this one has the most features and the best user experience. Simply go to their website and sign up for the free account. Then you can create "rooms" for the subjects that you teach online. Once you are inside the "room," you can copy the URL and send it to your student. I use it in conjunction with Skype's voice chat, and I love the interaction that the whiteboard brings to the classroom. It works completely on the internet so there is no need to download anything. Here are a few of the features:
- Picture uploading
- Screen shots
- Asset controls
- Flickr connection
- Session saving
Find it here: http://www.scribblar.com/
The more I teach, the more I realize that there can be differences between what I think a word means and what the dictionary says a word means. Dictionary.com has been my favorite tool for quick meaning checks and sample sentence lookups. Many ESL students around the world will learn phonetics from the International Phonetic Alphabet. Dictionary.com allows you to change from using the American phonetic system to the international phonetic system. If your student knows the international system, it is easy to copy and paste a word to help clarity pronunciation.
Visit the dictionary here: http://dictionary.reference.com/
Feel free to comment about any additional tools that you find helpful!