hello everyone and welcome back to my six-part series all about teaching English online with I talk here this series very much aimed at those of you who are new teachers on a talkie maybe you're considering becoming a digital nomad or working remotely working online traveling full-time and earning money why do you do so which is what I do now if you are new to this series or channel I would recommend checking out the playlist up above in the cards you can also find the link in the description below and why not consider subscribing that way you can capture any videos I do on this subjects going forward now this is episode four we've talked about availability scheduling pricing and trial lessons this video is going to be probably the most meaty of the ones so far so I would suggest maybe get your fire or getting a bit of paper and write some notes as you go along we're going to be talking about actually doing a lesson and planning for less and more importantly in terms of the material that you may send a student beforehand the first thing that I'm going to talk about is one word and that is bespoke okay students when they come to my talkie are all different okay there isn't any one way in which you can teach every single student because everyone will have different needs and motivations so always have that word bespoke in the back of your head because it's not a case that you can just send the same material to 20 students that you have in a week and expect that lesson to be productive and for the student to get the most out of it secondly the thing that you need to be clear on with I talking is that the majority of students and this isn't always the case are not looking for a strict teacher classroom environment with a textbook they don't want textbooks they don't want exercises from the primary reason they've come to my talk is to have a conversation with a native English speaker or whatever language you are teaching you know it's a huge misconception and I think that if you're coming to our talk e2b like a strict teacher in a classroom just doing exercises on grammar from a textbook I talk here is not for you because it's all about speaking and primarily so let's start off looking at speaking one thing that I have done which has really helped me out over the last year is to set up one document which is full of conversation topics that you can potentially use in lessons I've called it the ultimate conversation document which I can send to you if you like just send me an email my email is in the description of all of my videos it's very easy to find and you can start off by looking at general topic so talk about things like family work travel positives and negatives of hometowns things like that and it doesn't really matter if that student is a beginner intermediate advanced because you as the teacher can tailor the conversation dependent on that student's level so you can use more complicated vocabulary more complex constructions things like that more complex grammar but obviously with a beginner student you potentially wouldn't do that one thing I normally do with this is I will send it to students as well in a first lesson to give them a bit of an idea of ways potentially to come in terms of speaking practice I will normally send them a message a couple of days later on Skype with a suggestion of what we might want to talk about in relation to that document so they can just look on the document look at the subjects and have a bit of a think about you know what could i potentially talk about in the lesson the thing about conversation with a student is that some of them may prefer a lesson to be quite structured in terms of you know we'll talk about this subject for the first half or then talk about the other subject for the second half however that's not always the case so particularly with more advanced students which we're going to come onto in another video planning a lesson might always be the best thing to do because actually with an advanced student there isn't always a lot you can recommend in terms of grammar and Corrections and correcting errors that kind of thing they may prefer to simply have a natural conversation about what they've done in the week or you know what's happening at work or something that you've talked about before they might want to talk about further and that might be slightly nerve-racking for you as a teacher because you're kind of going in blind however it's what the student wants that's their desires to become more confident with natural conversation and so planning something isn't always the best decision to make when you're focusing on speaking conversation is very important that you are being conscious of any errors that that student makes no matter how minor it may be sometimes if someone is a more beginner level you're obviously not going to point out every single tiny error that they make because they will probably be thousands however for a more advanced student pointing out areas no matter how small is so important particularly with things like prepositions or articles that's why I found from the last year of teaching online so you know always be typing while you're doing a lesson and that's the key thing with a speaking lesson you know suggest vocabulary recommend other ways of saying things if they're messing up modal verbs or conjunctions things like that highlight that in the text on the Skype chat so they can go back afterwards and just look at what you've talked about and hopefully it will stay in their brain for next time the next point to talk about in relation to my ultimate conversation document also is relating to speaking in terms of IELTS so many students particularly in Russia I'm finding will be looking to gain an IELTS certification which will enable them to study or work in an english-speaking country for example the UK US Canada or Australia and in general a lot of the IELTS conversations that you will have will be very much similar to what I talked about already in terms of general conversation however some students may want you to structure a lesson as they would experience in an IELTS exam so for speaking part two they would need that bit of time to prepare before they start talking about something however alternatively they may just simply want to have a discussion about various topics which may come up in an IELTS exam let's move on to listening which in my opinion comes hand-in-hand with speaking one of the things about teaching online is that you may feel that you you need to have the student speaking all the time and yeah that's a benefit for them to speak as much as possible but it's also about listening and comprehension of a native speaker when they actually speaking so don't be afraid of you know when you're talking sometimes you think oh my speaking too much and yeah sometimes that might be the case but don't be afraid of expressing your opinion because it adds more to a conversation and and actually they get so much out of listening to a native speaker speaking in terms of their understanding and you know it's something I do with listening in particular our look at videos so you could potentially send them a link to a YouTube video I have a YouTube channel so many of my students use my YouTube videos the travel ones to listen to how a native speaker speaks on an everyday basis and then talk about their comprehension of that video their understanding of it anything that's anything that they didn't fully understand you can clarify other things you can do with this thing in terms of encouraging them to listen more are doing things in their spare time so watching movies TV shows in English watching things like TED talks Robert Proctor is great search him on YouTube they do fantastic talks in a variety of accents with a transcript in any language so it's a perfect opportunity for someone to do some listening go back and check what they looked at and see if they understand it another thing with TV shows and YouTube isn't that subtitles so encourage someone to watch it first without subtitles and see how much they understand then watch it again with subtitles and then they can measure whether they were successful in understanding everything next up we cannot have a look at pronunciation which is probably my favorite part of teach English online on I talk II particularly with Cantonese and Mandarin speakers based in China Hong Kong and Taiwan because they have a notorious difficulty when it comes to particular vowel sounds consonant sounds etc in particularly British English and one of the things that I want to talk about with pronunciation is that it's not just about speaking it's also about listening so one of the things I do especially in relation British English is maybe spend a couple of lessons just talking about various aspects of British English so things like the schwa sound diphthongs monophthongs glottal stop glottal stop the dark L football not football and also various accents especially if a student is interested in learning about those accents like the RP accent like the queen or cockney as I said or my normal accent which is estuary English I'm not doing accents by the way and you know the thing that you need to stress with this is that you're not teaching someone to speak with a cockney accent you're teaching someone to recognize things in someone else's speech when they're listening so pronunciation and listening are very much connected something else that I look at with pronunciation is in relation to reading so find an article or ebook or something like that that is relevant to that students interest that you would have captured in your trial lesson earlier and you know you can then read through that article or whatever in a lesson together so you may want to allow the student to read a paragraph first and look at their intonation look at their worst dress look at their use of the schwa sound etc and then give them feedback afterwards you may want to then read that paragraph yourself so they can see how a native speaker would pronounce every word in that paragraph or you may want to do it the other way around or alternate it through an article where you read a paragraph first yourself giving the opportunity to the student to mimic exactly what you've done and you know what I've found that doing it this way has really generates some great results with people's pronunciation because particularly around schwa sounds and you know diphthongs and monophthongs like you know the R sound which is very common in British English blocking the words dance grass bath paths you know most people will say dance path grass that's just an example and you know by doing that kind of exercise it can really help someone's pronunciation and moving on to reading and writing to be honest with you something like reading is something that a student will do in their own time spending time focusing on reading in a lesson and is to do with pronunciation as I mentioned isn't so productive in my mind it might be for some people so you might want to read a text and similarly with pronunciation read a paragraph at a time and encourage the student to then talk about their comprehension and summarize what's happened in that paragraph it's also a fantastic way of broadening someone's vocabulary with writing one thing that I absolutely love doing is using Google Docs so if for example you're doing a business English lesson all about writing a formal or informal email for example you can start a shared Google Docs document and write that email together on the screen and you can see exactly what's happening on that document and it's fantastic because you can do it in real time and you can correct and advise while you're doing it another thing with writing that you may want to do if you know that student isn't so comfortable doing it that first way is allow them to write something for you before send it to you beforehand perhaps you may want to correct it before a lesson a bit like proofreading and then go through it in the lesson or you may want to do it in the lesson itself in terms of correcting it's up to you and it's up to what the student wants but in terms of writing that's what I like to do to be honest it's normally relating to the business English when it comes to writing because people do have issues writing emails using phrasal verbs in written English is a huge issue so when yeah that's writing and reading lovely so to summarize I think you probably realize from the whole of this lesson that the key to having a successful productive lesson is planning not in all cases as I said in some cases you might not need to plan anything but that might be right for a student as I said this spoke every student is different in every level of planning and the content of each lesson needs to be different the other thing that I will say that is so important is about motivation and Hodgman you know if you're descending a lesson and saying okay we're done by what is that doing it it's not encouraging or motivating a student's so you know highlight some of the points that they have focused on in the lesson um you know oh you did really well today with your flowing speech or your speech was very flowing you made very few mistakes in relation to articles which you may have spoken about before things like that you know give them something to go away with to encourage them to continue their language learning journey and you know they're likely to book another lesson with you obviously it has to be genuine you know be honest you know if they haven't done particularly well on a lesson don't be don't be scared to say you know okay I think we need to try this again next time because we haven't seen the progression that I was hoping for and that's fine you know I think the students really appreciate honesty there are humans just like you you know and treat them like that you're on the same level be natural and be relaxed that is the key for me you know don't be a strict teacher don't have textbooks and don't use exercises because they can do all of that in their own timing there's so much more that I could talk about in relation to material lesson planning and actually doing a lesson I would probably be here all day if I was talking about that but I've tried to put together some things today based on my experience that have really helped me you know I hope this helps you when you are doing lessons it can be so nerve-wracking as a teacher especially when you first start or if you have a student that is particularly you know overpowering and intimidating and I've had that a few times but you know you just have to learn from experience and remember that everyone is different I cannot say that enough so thanks for watching I hope this has helped don't forget to leave your comments down below about your experience with lessons and planning lessons do you do anything different to me that would be great if you could add to the conversation because as I said I could be here all day if I kept talking so we're moving on now to videos five and six which are all about advanced students and any problems you might have that's my talk you teacher thanks for watching


  1. I've been a community tutor on italki for 6 months now and I love it!
    I do not have a TEFL/TESOL certificate but I still get a good number of students per week.

    Next season I will be completing a Graduate TESOL certificate to become a professional teacher. This means I can help students with grammar, pronunciation and writing. At the moment most of the classes I teach are casual conversation! As a professional teacher I will also be able to charge more money and help more students.

    If you haven't tried italki, please do. It is fantastic for both students and teachers.
    Thanks for the video David, some helpful tips I will definitely use!

  2. Hi David! Is it possible to teach with ITALKI as a non-native speaker without TEFL-certificate? Gr8 video man thanx! πŸ™‚

  3. You absolute legend. I finished my 120-hour TEFL course a month ago and only last week started planning out how I could teach online with absolutely no idea where to begin so this is a godsend. I'll drop you an e-mail tomorrow if it's possible to get a copy of the conversation. Thanks again!

  4. David, I am moving to Latin America and I am thinking of teaching English online. I have a University degree, however, no real teaching experience. Should I get the TEFL certificate? Great channel, very informative. Thanks. Another David.

  5. I am getting started on italki and your videos have been very helpful to me. Would it be possible to get a copy of your conversation document you mentioned?

  6. Hi David! I have a question: when doing a lesson on Skype do you do it through video call (seeing the other person physically on camera) or just audio chat without the visual component? What is the most common method among teachers and students, just audio or video chat? How important is the nonverbal communication (gestures, moving lips when pronouncing) in terms of helping the student better learn the targeted language? In addition, is it necessary a Skype video call (visual) rather than just a phone call (only audio involved) when tutoring a student from Italki? I asked this in reference to the question posted in the following link which expresses similar concerns Thank you, in advance, for your kind response!

  7. There are so many vendors out there that offer certificates in teaching English as a foreign language, that I have no idea which one I should go with. I would like to avoid wasting my time and money on a an ineffective program. Do you have any recommendations for a particular program I should look into if I want to teach English online versus in a classroom setting? Thanks for your informative videos on teaching English with italki.

  8. Hey David, I just sent you an email requesting that conversation document you have. Thanks for all the help

  9. Great tips, David! Thanks for sharing part of your experience working and teaching English with Italki.
    Β‘Que pases un buen dΓ­a! Β‘Saludos! πŸ™‚

  10. I keep learning new things, especially since this will be an entirely new platform for me. Great advice! Cheers, David!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *