Love New Canadians

Online ESL Class Suggestions

Here are some things we’re learning as we adapt weekly in-person ESL classes to online classes on Zoom.

We hope this will help you host your ESL class online as well!

Email Invitation

  • We choose to have both a ‘Tech Host’ and a ‘Teacher Host.’ (We share cell phone numbers in case we need to communicate outside the Zoom platform during class.)
  • The tech host sends out a Zoom invitation by email with a link to the class.
  • The first time a student receives a Zoom invite email and they click the link, a prompt to download Zoom will pop up. (Remember to copy the whole Zoom link when pasting it into an email invite!)
  • We have had volunteers phone students who we haven’t heard from, or who are beginners, to help them with the Zoom technology.
  • We email a new Zoom invite every week so we can attach the current handouts. Students can print them before class if they want.
    • Put all announcements and lesson handouts on a single Word document so your students are not jumping around to find them.
    • Students using mobile phones say the type on the handouts is too small. They should print the lesson before the class if possible.

Starting the Class

  • The Zoom invite should state that the start time is 10-15 minutes before the start of class. Students and volunteers can greet each other before class as they join. This also provides a buffer for technology issues.
  • Volunteers should say the person’s name as they greet students to assist others who may not recognize faces or names. Tech host and teacher may then start a paper list of students & another list of volunteers (to use names & prepare breakout group lists).
  • The tech host can ‘rename’ each participant to the name that we know them as (if they use an “English name” that is different from their screen name).
  • It’s great to have a volunteer or student help in the student’s 1st language in case you have some students who can open the invitation email and click the link but then get lost.
  • There are some common issues we face at the beginning of class:
    • A challenge we have faced is that the instructions about where an icon might be on the screen change a bit depending on which device is in use. Students are using many kinds of devices: laptop, iphone, tablet, etc.
    • A common issue is helping students with mute/unmute.

Leading the Class

  • The first thing I say is “It’s so good to see your faces!” I wave and smile a lot.
  • In my opinion, on-line classes need more teacher ‘control’ than in person.
  • We often use a student’s name when we ask a question.
  • We try to make the introduction really engaging (we have used videos, made our own on-topic videos, interviewed guests, etc.).
  • The tech host will write/type on whiteboard for any lists elicited from students.
  • The tech host will share their screen to show a handout if needed. We use Word documents (not Google slides). In Word we can highlight the question for students. A student reads the question and others answer.
  • Don’t read in unison. Have various volunteers read out loud.

Breakout Rooms

  • The first time doing an on-line class, don’t do breakout rooms for small group discussion. Stay as one large group (unless your tech support is already quite comfortable putting individuals into small groups).
  • In breakout groups, the leader shares the lesson by sharing their screen.
  • While volunteers read during the beginning of the lesson, the tech host can create and type the group lists.
  • The tech host takes time to ask students or volunteers about a group assignment if needed.

Concluding a Zoom Class

  • Gather all students and volunteers back together from the breakout rooms. A prompt on the screen counts down one minute.
  • We end by telling everyone “We love you. We miss you. You can email me anytime to ask for a visit or prayer.”