What Does It Take To Be An Effective Online Language Instructor

First thing I want to address here is one of the most frequently asked questions by inexperienced online language instructors who want to try it out: What does it take to be an online language instructor?
 
Here’s my answer to that question:
1. Know your subject well.
I guess the first prerequisite is that you know very well the language you want to teach, and that you can teach its basic principles in concise and clear manner. If you teach, online or not, you’ll have to know your stuff.
 
Your student will ask you questions about the language you will be teaching and you’ll need to provide clear answers quickly and confidently. The most effective way to build on your knowledge and confidence is to be well-read.
 
2. Be sure and in control of your devices.
Being online means you will be using various kind of communication devices to facilitate the lesson. You will have to be in full control of your gadgets, how to control and adjust them quickly during the lesson. You’re sure your connection to the internet is stable and fast enough to deliver a quality experience.
 
There is nothing like a disastrous online experience due to bad connection or malfunctioning gadgets that you cannot quickly fix. This will really make students go away. Remember, students pay for the service and they expect that having a stable and quality communication is a given prerequisite. Fail in this area once and you will not get a second chance from the same student.
 
3. Be sensitive and cultivate trust.
You will have to be aware all the time of the online and cultural difference barrier when teaching students of other nationalities. Be sensitive to their reactions. If there are differences you will have to be constructive and accommodating.
 
One of the best qualities of a great teacher is on how to encourage students to open up and really loose their inhibitions.
You can only do that if your students really trust you and that you are not going to be judgmental of their thinking or of who they are.
As an online language instructor, you’ll have to be more open and be sincerely honest. Students can detect honesty and when instructors are just faking it.
 
4. Be fun.
Talk about light and funny subjects. Nobody wants dark and moody lessons — all the more when the lesson is online. Research your topic beforehand, and think how the topic relates to your student in a fun way.
 
Use a lot of eye contact (look at the camera directly) and smile a lot. Don’t just sit there, be active and use hand gestures. Don’t just talk passively to the computer, pretend that you’re really talking with a miniature person who is inside a computer.
 
You ask, “how would I know what is fun for my student?” It’s easy, just ask them.
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