Tips for teaching groups of students via Skype. Skype

Do teachers have to be present to be able to deliver a class to groups of learners? According to Nathan Lomax, who is providing training to Libyan teachers from the UK using Skype using local trainers. Here are his suggestions for teaching classes using the computer.

Without the visual cues in a classroom with a live instructor it’s hard for the teacher to make a quick judgment by observing the moods of the students or to meet particular needs of students. Yet, with careful preparation as well as activities that are student-centered, it’s possible to deliver motivating and worthwhile classes to large groups of students using Skype . That’s what I’ve seen teaching live online TKT (Teaching Knowledge Test) classes with the British Council. Here are my top tips to instruct groups of learners online.

Keep the directions simple

When there is no telling how reliable the internet will be, and there is a possibility of power failures, it’s imperative to include specific and clear instructions for each stage of the lesson specifically for trainers local to the ground, who are responsible of facilitating the class. They may need to understand how to run activities when the internet connection is interrupted.

One of the advantages of reducing oral instructions is that it encourages you to limit your teacher’s talking duration (TTT) — a habit which all teachers of languages are guilty often.

Anticipate learners’ needs and issues

It’s a good idea to arrange a brief training session before the lesson with local trainers to go through any difficult questions with them. Be prepared, however, for some aspects to get misinterpreted and not necessarily to be in line with the planned link expressdigest website Things may also take more time than anticipated due to it being difficult to show what students ought to be doing from a distance.

Based on the culture, trainers from the local community may elaborate on the activities, and they may be reluctant to relinquish control to the learners. By the end of the course, however, they have been accustomed to the idea of being facilitators, rather than leading, the class.

Be social and have fun.

In a typical class, it’s important to have ice-breakers or warmers before the beginning of every class, for example, role plays, surveys and the whole class mingling activity (onestopenglish is a great site to look for these). Students want to have fun and socialize!

The majority of teachers are aware that manuals for courses can be dry and often require a change to make the content more relevant and centered on the needs of the learner. I accomplish this by converting documents from the manual into different dictation styles (running with a group, moving back-to-back) and placing them on the walls for the students to wander around and discuss. If you’re lucky enough to have some amazing assistants in the field (as I did in Libya) they’ll be able to help with the preparation of materials to carry out these activities (photocopying making chopping boards, cutting and hanging things around the room) in advance.

Promote a vibrant atmosphere

While you may be on the other side of the world, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring some enthusiasm to the classroom. Nearly all students, whether young and old, are enthralled by the competitive nature of games and other activities. I’ve found that miming and games such as backs to the table and board slap are the most popular. It is the competitive element that helps keep learners focused and on track. Smaller groups can also conduct competitions according to the course content.

Learners can assist with classroom management

One of the issues of having no one in the room But, the other is the responsibility of ‘policing the activity (which isn’t easy at times). This can be handled by local trainers or students who manage to effectively take care of classroom management. Indeed, if you’re training local teachers, then you’ll be developing their classroom management abilities.

Explore the technology

If you’re thinking about teaching on the web It is essential to become familiar with the options at your disposal. One of the most effective is the “share screens” feature of Skype, which allows you to share whatever you’ve got on your desk, like instructions, flashcards or games such as Blockbusters played in PowerPoint. If your class uses projection devices to interact with you, then your computer becomes an interactive whiteboard when you use the share function.

Be ready for the possibility of hiccups take your time, and, as long as possible, get things set ready in advance, so the lesson doesn’t end up fixing the microphone or focusing the projector and so on.

Find innovative ways to give feedback

Although remote teaching makes difficult to monitor individual or group activities in person, it’s possible to give feedback on learners’ progress. Edmodo is a wonderful way to communicate with students both on a group and individual base, and also to allow learners to work together on assignments and provide feedback to each other. It’s a safe and secure means to interact with others and could be a better alternative than Facebook particularly if you do not want to be bombarded with requests for friends.


If lessons are carefully planned with plenty of fun activities and well-coordinated assistants on the ground, it doesn’t seem to matter if the trainer is present or not. In reality, as long as the instructions are clear, the absence of the trainer will make lessons more focused on the students.

I would recommend online learning to anyone as long as you’ve got patience for technical glitches. If these issues can be worked out and fixed, the future of online training looks good.