Once you’ve discovered the ease with which you can learn languages online with a great teacher, it’s hard to go back to doing it the old fashioned way. Still, many of the old learning styles may have already become ingrained in you which can really come to hold you back. Switching to learning over the internet may take a bit of getting used to, so here are a few tips on how to start having better online lessons.
Get Good Equipment
The first tip comes down to pure technicalities again. However, these are also one of the biggest annoyances that can end up ruining your lesson. Since all of your communication with your teacher will be over the internet, it’s important to ensure everything goes smoothly – otherwise, you’ll just spend the lesson trying to fix your hardware issues.
Definitely check your internet connection to make sure it can handle a video call. You can check that from this site. If possible, have cable internet available to avoid the issues wifi sometimes comes with. For a problem-free Skype lesson, a speed of about 1Mb/s is needed. If yours is lower, try shutting down programmes that soak up bandwidth and consider turning off your webcam – although this should probably be the last resort since seeing you will definitely help your teacher instruct you better.
Recommended is also that you get a headset with a microphone and earphones to guarantee you can freely talk with your teacher. If you don’t want to invest in that, just make sure you’re somewhere more-or-less quiet – with lower quality speakers that many laptops come with, even street noise can start to become an issue during your lesson.
Be Mindful of Your Surroundings
Remember that the only thing the teacher can see during the lesson is what your webcam shows. So, start by positioning yourself in the centre of the image and check what is behind you. For example, a lightsource at your back will make it more difficult for your teacher to see you, as will a completely dark background which you can melt into.
Additionally, you probably don’t want to have unwashed dishes or piles of clothes showing, so just make a quick check that everything is as it should be before you start your lesson.
Have Your Files and Resources Ready
As we highlighted in the guide on how to prepare for your first online lesson, it’s always good to have resources you feel comfortable with ready. This, naturally, applies also for the entire length of your online language course.
Throughout your lessons, you will probably end up sharing quite a lot of different files and materials with your teacher, so it’s always a good idea to have one specific folder for all such things. Then, if you need to share something with your teacher during the lesson, you will find everything easily. Otherwise, you might end up having to comb through your entire computer to find the one file you were working on, taking both you and your teacher out of the learning rhythm.
Get Familiar with Your Software
In most cases, you and your online teacher will decide together which platform to use for your lessons. It’s always a good idea to pick one you’re already used to, be it Skype, Google Hangouts, or FaceTime.
However, you might still be using these programmes in a way you’re not familiar with. Surely, your teacher will also give you a short introductory lesson on how to get the best out of the platform you’re using. But it never hurts to go over the details yourself. Check this useful article on how to use Skype for language lessons.
In addition, you can also use other tools to improve your lessons. For example, you can record the session with your teacher and then go over it yourself to see if there is something you would like done differently next time. Always be sure to get permission for recording beforehand, though.
Have More Than One Teacher
These days, with online language lessons popping up like mushrooms after rain, there’s no reason for you to just stick with one. You might find one that is really excellent at explaining grammar but have an easier time getting your conversation practice with someone else. Before you might have been forced to choose but these days, you can just continue having lessons with both online.
The obvious drawback to this is that your teachers will probably have less of an overview of your progress but if you keep them posted, there’s nothing stopping you from reaping the benefits of several teachers.
Conclusion – Familiar Software and Good Equipment Lead to Great Lessons
Although online lessons can take some getting used to at first, they come with so many upsides it becomes hard to switch back to traditional lessons. To ensure you get the most out of your lessons, it’s better to prepare a bit beforehand. Make sure you don’t have distractions during your lesson, invest in some good equipment, and be generally organised with the materials you’ll need.