By Lynda Galea
The equipment and props you use to teach English online can make all the difference between a mediocre teaching experience and classroom setup, or a great one.
Other than a computer/laptop with a good webcam and a reliable internet connection, some other supplies and props you should consider investing in include...
A good quality headset will be a life-changer for your online classes. Don’t skimp out to try and save a few bucks here. Obviously, price is something to factor in, but be sure you are analyzing reviews carefully and ensure you are going for quality over a low price tag.
Some things to consider: If you have a newer MacBook, keep in mind that the headset you purchase must be either Bluetooth-compatible or plug into a 3.5mm headphone jack. Newer MacBook’s no longer have USB ports, so in order to use a USB headset, you must also have a USB-C to USB adapter.
Depending on where you are working from, an adjustable laptop stand might also be worth the investment. This applies even more so if you are constantly on the move or traveling, and might not always have a desk handy to work from. For the latter option, there are portable, collapsible models available that are compact and can easily fit into your nomadic lifestyle.
Many online English teachers have great success with using props to compliment lesson plans and help aid in successfully conveying a message or a new teaching to their students. Props are more so used across a younger teaching audience, so if you are teaching adults or business professionals, this will likely be of little use to you.
Dry Erase Board + Markers
Dry Erase boards are great because they can be used over and over again. Simply wipe away your previous lesson, and you’re ready to start all over again. Using a range of colored markers in oppose to just the one color can really help particular lessons stand out and allow students to differentiate between things. Some teachers will have a large dry erase board propped up behind them to give that authentic classroom feeling, while others will have a smaller, more practical one on-hand that they can easily grab and write on.
Magnetic dry erase boards are also big hits within the online classroom. If your dry erase board doubles as a magnet board, a magnet alphabet and numbers kit like this one is worth looking into.
Flash cards go way back. These have proven to be a very useful tool for helping students to memorize what it is they are being taught – especially if they are a visual learner. There are various forms of flash cards that can be purchased, but the most effective for teaching young students should include the following:
→ The alphabet
→ Colors & Shapes
→ First Words
Puppets & Plush Animals
Using a variety of hand puppets and/or plush animals is a great way to help bring to life stories, songs, and games. If you’re on a tight budget, hand puppets can be a fun DIY project that can be created with an old sock. If wearing a sock on your hand is not your thing, there are so many different options to check out on Amazon.
Check out these awesome videos we came across on YouTube of teachers showing off the props they use when teaching English online with VIPKid. Sidenote: VIPKid is just one of hundreds of online English teaching employers.
Teacher Nikki with VIPKid
Teacher Lindsey with VIPKid
DIY Props - Teacher Lindsey with VIPKid
A reward system is a means of motivating a student to do their best to succeed. Like most people in life, students like to be rewarded for their consistency and hard work – if they know they will be rewarded for such effort, it is likely they will continue to out-perform themselves with each and every lesson. You can get as creative as you want with the reward system that you choose, but keep in mind that a simplistic and visual approach may be best for young minds.
Not quite sure what your reward system should look like? Check out these great resources we found on YouTube of reward systems being used when teaching English online by these VIPKid teachers:
Teacher Lindsey with VIPKid
Teacher Tina with VIPKid
Bonus: Classroom Tours
If you need some inspiration in creating a colorful and fun online classroom for your students, or you just want to check that the classroom you’ve created is similar to what other online English teachers are using, take a look at these videos we came across on YouTube:
Teacher Nancy with VIPKid
Teacher Nikki with VIPKid
And just remember, there is no right or wrong classroom setup. Let your creative juices run free and aim to educate a young mind and inspire their imagination!
About the Author: An accomplished traveler (she's visited 35 countries!) and blogger, Lynda Galea hails from Melbourne, Australia. When she's not working with the ITA team spreading the word about teaching and traveling abroad, Lynda enjoys taking in a new film, eating dumplings, and of course, snuggling with her beloved kitty, Sooty.
Want to Learn More about Teaching English Online?
If you are excited about teaching English from either the comfort of your own home or anywhere in the world, contact us about TEFL certification options and get ready for a great adventure!
- Teach English Online: Your Guide on How to Make Money & Travel the World [Downloadable]
- Teach English Online Employer Comparison Chart [Downloadable]
- Teach English Online: Employer Index [Downloadable]
- ITA Alumni Post: Pros & Cons of Teaching English Online
- ITA Alumni Online English Teaching Facebook Group
- Teaching English Abroad Job Index - Country Profiles