How to teach English to kids online: The best guide for online teachers

How to teach English to kids online

How to teach English to kids online is a question often asked by many teachers after they have actually found an online job, teaching English to kids but then wonder how do they actually teach online because it is not the same as teaching English in a classroom. 

This article will inform you of how most professional, online teachers teach English to kids online from the techniques to the top resources that they use.

Who learns English online?

For many years the top country that taught English to kids online was China however this changed in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. As a result, children from many countries are requesting online English classes and this interesting when we start to look deeper into the techniques used to teach English to kids online. For example how English is taught to children online in China is very different to how children in France or Canada would learn English online. Why?

Who learns English online?

What are the differences between Chinese and European kids learning English?

This boils down to two main elements, culture and previous learner experience. For example, in China their learning style is generally very prescriptive and the stems from the culture and the politics of the country. A lack of awareness of these elements could land you in trouble when teaching online. An example of that would be that when teaching English to kids online to Chinese kids the teacher should never discuss the countries of Taiwan of Hong Kong and that is because of the historic conflict between those islands with China. An example of that would be that a teacher should  never greet the student at the start of the lesson and then ask where are they from! As you can see this is  quite an average question however if you were to start an English lesson with this that would be quite possibly problematic.

What is TPR?

How Chinese kids learn  at school in China is also very relevant in how to teach English to kids online.

If China, children in classes generally sit and listen. They take notes and read textbooks. Their learning process is very much internalised. This is not ideal for language learning because when you are teaching a language you need a child to be animated in their approach to learning so they will verbalise their thoughts, ask questions and of course, right at the start repeat the words that the teacher is trying to teach them. 

Because of this, Chinese companies that specialise in teaching English to kids online (ESL – English as a second language) are very specific in their approach. Foreign teachers teaching kids English online must be animated, use excessive amounts of props and sing and often dance a lot. Chinese language schools take the use of TPR (total physical response) to another level for online learning and that is not always everyone’s cup of tea! If you don’t know what TPR is, watch our video here.

What is TPR?

How do European kids learn English online?

European children that are learning English online learn in a different manner to Chinese students. TPR and animation is still required however european students tend to be more response to online English learning due to their culture which promotes a less prescriptive structure in their school infrastructure. French, Italian, Spanish and Polish children for example would have made several trips to England for holidays and also to profit from the English language schools. Whilst Chinese students also do this, it only tends to be the richer Chinese families due to the cost of travel etc from China to England which is a much further distance than many european countries. The result is that European children experience more English culture compared to Chinese children generally therefore they are more accustomed to English communication and this is one of the keys of how kids learn any language. Remember when you were learning French at school and your teacher brought in croissants to taste, berets and a map of France? 

Who can teach English online?

Whilst many people think that speaking English qualifies them to teach English, it is no way  near enough.

Teaching English to kids is definitely skill. Teaching English to kids online is a further skill set. A TEFL ( Teach English as a foreign language) at the very minimum will be required. In TEFL courses (which you can complete online) you are taught many types of language acquistion techniques and methods. However many of these certified qualifications do not prepare teachers for online teaching. There is also a difference between teaching English to kids via a platform and teaching English to kids as a freelancer. If you require some training on that you could consider your 10 hour online course available here. 

Having the right equipment is also key to teaching English to kids online. You will need a device, a headset, good lighting and of course the internet. Online companies often complete device checks and speed checks of your internet connection to see if your equipment is reliable and suitable for teaching online, especially the Chinese companies.However if you are freelancing it is totally different.

Lots of teachers prefer to teach English online to kids as a freelance teacher and work for themselves. One reason for that is the pay. Pay rates for online lessons via a company has dropped considerably in the last few years and some teachers are paid as little as $2 per hour. To find out the top 30 companies you can apply to  and their rates of pay, see here.

Freelance teachers earn considerably more. An average rate would be $25 – $80 per hour. More for classes and group lessons.

Freelance tutors will then be responsible for providing their own lessons and of course songs. Instead of pulling bits songs from here and lessons plans from there, if you are looking for a more comprehensive curriculum, you may want to check out ESLkidsstuff.

We did a review on them (see below)

So generally to teach kids English online you need:

  • to be a relatively active and outgoing person.
  • Be a holder of one of the following, if not more: TEFL/TESOL/DELTA/CELTA
  • You will need to acquire children’s props and know how to use them in lessons.
  • You will need to have the right equipment.
  • Have an understanding of the English phonic system.
  • Understand the culture elements relevant to your students depending on the country that they come from.
  • Have access to a good curriculum or suitable online lessons.

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