Any mode of teaching comes with its advantages and disadvantages, and this is certainly true of online teaching. One advantage of teaching synchronous classes online is that there is normally the option of using the chatbox. The chatbox enables more students to participate at once, it can get shy students to communicate more, and it can be used to develop aspects of writing. Below are five simple activities
which language teachers can use in their synchronous online classes.
1. The one-finger response
Ask students yes/no questions and get them to type Y or N into the chatbox. You can also ask true/false questions and students type T or F. Alternatively, you can ask other binary questions such as ‘Which do you prefer, tea or coffee?’ (students type T or C), or ‘Are you a morning person or a night person?’ (students type M or N). These are great as warm-up (or energizing) activities.
This stands for Student Operated Automatic Pronunciation System. When working with a reading task, or the audio script of a listening task, the teacher asks the students to look for any words which they are not sure how to pronounce and to type these into the chatbox. The teacher then says these words (preferably twice) with very clear pronunciation. This activity empowers students to ask for pronunciation without feeling exposed and momentarily allows the students
to ‘control’ the teacher.
3. Eliciting and collecting
You can elicit vocabulary related to a topic and ask students to write their words into the chatbox. You can then copy these from the chatbox and paste them into the Notes tool in the digital form of the book. The Notes tool can function as a whiteboard.
4. Student-generated questions
When you have finished a reading or listening task you can ask students to write their own comprehension questions into the chatbox. You can collect them on the Notes tool in the digital form of the book and get students to answer each other’s questions.
5. 30 teachers/1 student
In order to get students to practice newly-learned questions, tell all the students that for a few minutes they will all be teachers and you will be the only student in the class. The students then write questions in the chatbox and you answer them as quickly and accurately as you can. For example, if you have been teaching the question, ‘Do you like ______?’ students type this question into the chat box with their own choice of noun. You can insist that you will only answer questions that are grammatically correct and with the correct punctuation.
Whether you’re new to online teaching or a seasoned pro, discover helpful tips and activities with our Learn at Home playlist:
Philip Haines moved to Mexico from England in 1995, and currently works as the Senior Academic Consultant for Oxford University Press Mexico. He has spoken internationally in three continents and nationally in every state in Mexico. Philip is the author/co-author of several ELT series published in Mexico.