Tips for effective online learning

Would you like to start, like many other students, by studying Czech or continue from September? You may not be sure whether schools will be open or your course won´t finish earlier due to the possibility of the second coronavirus wave. You don´t want to have online classes because… Why not? Bad experience? You don´t believe in its efficiency? I understand and want to show you don´t need to be scared. Here are a few tips on how to choose a good online teacher or course.

3 tips on high-quality online learning

1. Online teacher

You want to have lessons with the teacher because you need his/her help or you don´t know where to start in your studying. It´s ok. A teacher can really help you a lot and there is no reason why he/she shouldn’t do it remotely. You can ask your friends or colleagues for their recommendation or choose, Na volné or iTalki, etc. Before you manage your regular lessons with the teacher ask him/her

  • how long he/she has been teaching online
  • what kind of program he/she uses (Skype, Zoom…), and if it is possible to download it for free.

Be interested in

  • materials the teacher uses (study books, other materials, online websites, apps…)
  • how long you will work with the study book and with other materials in each lesson
  • how the conversation–speaking will be going on during the lessons.

Agree with

  • the way the teacher corrects what your homework will be like.

Look for other student recommendations or ask the teacher to show you.

If you are still not sure you can try to organize just 2‒4 lessons and then make your decision whether to go on.

I know a lot of my colleagues who teach online very well. They know how to prepare attractive lessons, how to make students interested in them, and how to use several apps and functions of programs. Online learning is specific as face-to-face lessons are. Both kinds of lessons can be effective in the same way. Be ready for a different „style“ of online lessons and be open. Trust your teacher, and don´t be afraid of trying new methods… Do your best and you´ll see your progress comes soon. And you will enjoy it 😊

PS: When discussing the price don´t be surprised by the fact that online lessons aren´t cheaper than face-to-face ones. A good teacher knows that it´s often more demanding to prepare a high-quality online lesson, that he/she must put money into programs and apps to be ready to offer students the best from them, and that he/she needs to be studying all the time to keep up with everything that online learning offers to him/her.

2. Technical skills

Are you scared of not being able to work with your computer well and not managing online learning? If you know how to turn on your computer and open the Internet then this is useless fear. The teacher will tell you what program you will work with and how to use it. Ask him/her how it works – that´s ok. He/she had to learn how to use it as well and now he/she can give you advice.

When the teacher offers you a new app ask him/her for help on how to install it and register. Most of the programs work easily and speak several languages, and all of my students work with them without trouble – I´m sure you will succeed, too. (Do you know the Quizlet, for example? Look at this video how it works.)

  • My tip 1: You need a good Internet connection to have good online lessons. Check whether you have a good Internet provider or think about whether it´s time to change it. It´s a profitable investment. Try during one lesson whether everything works and then you can change what you need.
  • My tip 2: Open online lessons on your computer, laptop, or tablet. Don´t use a smartphone. The teacher often uses presentations, pictures, shared documents, etc. and you would see them badly on your phone. And your teacher can offer you such a kind of work you´ll need to use your PC and phone together. Using just the phone wouldn´t be to your profit.
  • My tip 3: Use a web camera. Your teacher probably asks you to do it to be able to see you. And it´s your benefit – when a teacher can see how you pronounce or react he/she can help you immediately. And you can share your monitor with him/her and show what you need to explain etc. When a student doesn´t want to use a web camera he/she makes the lesson less effective.
  • My tip 4: I recommend using headphones. You will hear better what your teacher says and the teacher won´t disturb your family members. However, it´s good to have a good place (room) for the lesson where you can concentrate and nobody will disturb you and you won´t disturb others.

3. Online group course

Are you thinking about an online group course? Why not? Ask the teacher

  • about his/her experience with teaching such courses
  • whether he/she can show you recommendations of the ex-students
  • How many people are in a group?
  • What does learning look like?
  • How does the teacher moderate the lesson?
  • How can each student get involved?
  • How does the conversation part of the lesson run?
  • What program do you need to install?
  • How long does each lesson take (you can be more tired at the beginning but it´s ok, you need to get used to online studying)?
  • And all you have read in part 1.

A group online course can be very effective. When you trust your teacher´s experience and you have the motivation to start you don´t need to worry. E.g. when you need to take an A1 Czech exam for getting permanent residency then have a look at what my preparatory online course starting in September looks like.

Online studying doesn´t have limits. You can meet a teacher and co-students from the whole world (I have or had students from Japan, Australia, the USA, Russia, Brazil, and Europe…, it´s refreshing and very interesting). Online studying saves your time you don´t need to commute anywhere (part of my students who learned face-to-face and due to the coronavirus had to change their lessons to online don´t want to go back to the classroom 😊). You study in the comfort of your house, flat, or office. You will discover an online world you haven´t known (apps, programs, videos, listening, games…).

Don´t believe people saying online studying is not effective – you find a lot of students who confirm the opposite experience. Don´t be scared to study online and trust yourself. I trust you´ll be successful. Good luck!

This article in the Czech version

18th August 2020

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