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3 Key Takeaways from ESL Talk Podcast on Building a Connection in the Online Environment

January 11, 2023

Have you heard about the ESL Talk podcast?

As described on their Apple Podcast page, ESL Talk is “a podcast for English teachers by English teachers.” In each episode, the hosts and their guests discuss various teaching topics, methods, and approaches pertaining to ESL teachers. It's a fantastic way to hone your English teaching skills and stay current in the field.

Here are three key takeaways from ESL Talk's episode on building a connection in the online environment that you can use to strengthen your relationship with your online students.

1. Get your learners to complete a questionnaire

It can be hard to get to know someone in an online environment.

During your first class with your new students, ask them to fill out a questionnaire. Not only will this help you get to know your learners better right from the start, but it will also help you understand their level of familiarity with English as well as their goals for the class. 

Here are some ready-made questionnaires you can use to get to know your students:

2. Play icebreaker games with your students

Throughout your first few classes together, continue to get to know your new students by spending a few minutes playing icebreaker games with them. Two Truths and a Lie is a perfect icebreaker game to play with a brand-new class.

How to play Two Truths and Lie

  1. Ask your students to write down two true statements and one false statement about themselves. Make sure you participate too!
  2. Have them take turns reading their statements out loud to the class.
  3. After they’ve read out their statements, the rest of the class has to guess which statement was the lie.

This game will help you get to know your class in a really fun way, and it'll help your students learn a little bit about you as well!

3. Make time to talk with each other

Typically, small talk happens much more easily and naturally in a physical classroom. In an online environment, you may have to schedule time for it.

Leave a few minutes at the beginning or end of class to make small talk with your students. Encourage your learners to share what they did today or over the weekend and what they’re looking forward to for the upcoming week. Make sure you open up too!

Engaging in small talk gives your students a chance to practice their speaking skills and will help you to continue building a personal connection with them.

In our Making Small Talk lesson, students review appropriate subjects as well as useful phrases for beginning small talk.

Share your thoughts

Teachers, what do you do to build a personal connection with your online students? Let us know in the comments below.

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