- 1 OPEN COURSEWARE FOR ONLINE TEACHING OF ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE TO KOREANS
- 2 GENERAL OVERVIEW:
OPEN COURSEWARE FOR ONLINE TEACHING OF ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE TO KOREANS
Short description: An online short course for educators (i.e. online tutors) about building the necessary skills in teaching Koreans about English as a second language. The short training will provide educators the simple training about the language pedagogy, teaching methodology, development of learning materials, syllabus design, assessment techniques and communication strategies across different cultures.
Target Audience: Educators with some background in communication, language, preferably, but open to any individual with experience in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Industry and other fields that encourages constant interaction with people.
NOTE: This course is not limited to the requirements above. Individuals who possess good communication skills in various fields are still encouraged to take this course.
Goals: build skills in online teaching, create SMART (Specific, Stimulating, Measurable, Motivating, and Achievable ) objectives to apply theories in learning for effective teaching, create interactive lesson plans (with motivational materials and exercises), assess class performance and relay feedback.
* Use VoIP (like Skype) * The course is made up of content that is prepared for the participants via a portal. Course is modular in natures with pre-requisites before jumping into another module. * Course is 42 hours divided into 5 modules.
Similar projects: There are number of other initiative that do exist in open teaching but not specific to Koreans. Most of the courses are for students aiming to improve language skills in English but not specific to training online tutors. The thing is, this course is unique because it aims to train online tutors in teaching English as a foreign or second language in different levels: beginner's, intermediate and advanced levels (that include accessing free audio files for listening comprehension.
Teaching in general conveys lessons in the mode that is pre-determined when mainstream subjects are taught in classroom. Teaching pedagogy has evolved and gave way to various options for learners to study in convenient pacing. The digital age made this knowledge conveyance possible through another mode and that is through the Internet. Such opportunity to grasp knowledge at a different level gave way to online tutorials.
English Language Learning is an essential practice nowadays especially for non-English speakers in developing and developed countries. Take the case of South Koreans who immerse themselves in several English programs in the UK, Australia, Canada, the US and the Philippines. Cost is an underlying issue, too, hence, the issue of tutoring as outsourced is the business element of online tutorials as a proliferating business.
The most important part of an online tutorial is the realization that the general principles of teaching should not be neglected and should be a practice at all times. Learning is both a feat for the student and for the tutor as both are essential in the entire e-learning process. But descending the boundaries of technology is the real challenge here. So striking a balance can make the teaching-learning process, without the typical confines of a classroom, is essential.
Keywords: pedagogy, teaching, learning, tutoring, practice
The influx of South Koreans in the Philippines to study English is phenomenal. This is attributed to the cheaper cost of living; accessibility to specialized classes in English-speaking universities; and the availability of well-versed Filipinos who can speak “global English” based from an accumulation of practice and exposure in English zones. Global English in this sense is the teaching of English in proper grammar and diction but minus the accent (i.e, American). The English immersion program advertised in South Korea is usually for eight to twelve months. After their short stint in the Philippines, they go back to South Korea to either pursue further studies or apply for the job they want. Armed with the basics of learning English in another country, they return to their home country confident that they have sufficient knowledge of the English language to get by.
E-learning Concept in English Language Learning
E-learning is the use of technology, specifically the use of computers, to facilitate learning. Since learning is in co-ordinance with one’s learning pace, it is a trend considered by some people as a means of training for either personal or professional development. A considerable word used here, too, is that e-learning is a “fad” (Jenkins and Visser, 2001) – pertaining to applying those skills in the line of work.
English language learning, as a second language, requires considerable practice and determination in speaking the language. It is of real advantage if the student is exposed to English zones but such is the case when the student ceases to practice that new-found skill. The immersion program in English is designed to expose the student to situations wherein English is supposed to be used. But once the student goes back to their home country and English is not used as a means of regular communication, that skill will not be further enhanced.
This assumption on the difficulty to put that English language skill into practice has developed into both an enterprising business and an educational challenge for English language educators. The emergence of online tutorials is foreseen as a solution to this dilemma.
Mechanisms of Online Tutorial
An online tutorial, in its most basic sense, is an interactive electronic course that serves to convey and present knowledge through the aid of computers with Internet connection. Such knowledge units are presented to the student at a pre-determined order of time and day in a specified duration of how such a knowledge unit can be fully grasped and completed – which is of similar nature in its goal of knowledge acquirement as taught in mainstream classrooms. The only difference in actual classroom learning is that proper immersion in a regular classroom setting is not greatly achieved in terms of social interaction with other learners. But the main point of the matter is that an online tutorial is a challenging option and still attempts to monitor student’s progress in the mastery of any knowledge unit.
What is the Technology Set-up?
Hardware Requirement. Online tutorial requires the use of computers with Internet connection. A computer is defined here as composing of a monitor, CPU (Central Processing Unit), keyboard and a mouse. Such is the case that desktop computers or laptops would need the following accessories and are made available to tutors for use:
*a headset to listen to audio sounds and with an accompanying microphone
The use of a headset and a webcam is a necessity in the deliverance of the lesson. A headset is used to talk to the student and the webcam is for the student to see the tutor and vice-versa. Being able to see each other is an advantage since facial expression can determine understanding of the lesson. With the aid of a webcam, the student may be able to see how the tutor uses mouth movement for word enunciation. The tutor may sometimes use hand gestures to describe an action, too. What is notably surprising sometimes is that the students gauge their preference for tutors by looking at the over-all face and stature of the tutor. Hence, seeing the tutor in real time through the webcam admittedly may have an effect in the learning attitude of the student. Bandwidth Specifications. A good Internet service is a necessity in an online tutorial. Since audio and video streaming are used at the same time during classes, a good downstream and upstream traffic that sends data rates at 2Mbps or higher is an essential factor in the actual smooth/uninterrupted deliverance of the lesson. It is recommended that a good Internet subscription has to be tested first and evaluated. A test run is a sure way of finding out if simultaneous use of audio and video in different computers can be handled by the subscription plan. There is no need to use an expensive leased line being used by most call centers that could amount as much as $1200.00 in monthly subscription payments. There are several options based from a series of trial–and-error that this author has experienced. One option is getting an ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line). In ADSL, downloading rate is much faster than uploading. But if the entire operation relies on faster uploading for voice over, chances are there will be a lag in voice over and slow opening of browsers if there is simultaneous audio and video streaming. In this case, actually, a 2 Mbps data rate is enough to run five computers at the same time and that’s about it. To upgrade from this connection, especially if several connection problems arise, a SDSL (Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line) can be another choice. A SDSL subscription can both support the same upstream and downstream traffic and can essentially send data at a rate of 3 Mbps.
Now, this is another expensive option. If cost is an underlying issue, it is better to just get another ADSL subscription from another ISP (Internet Service Provider) and distribute the connection from both ISP in every computer. This is a cheaper alternative than paying 50% to 60% more for the SDSL subscription. It is understood in this case that such connection distribution would need the procurement of a router.
How Do You Teach?
Use of VoIP. The use of VoIP to deliver lessons is an easy option. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. A typical VoIP application is Skype. Basically, pc–to-pc calls made in Skype are free but other calls made to mobile or landline subscribers would require Skype credits that need to be purchased with Skype (instructions are given by Skype). Skype has a user-friendly interface and is easy to manage based from actual online teaching experience. Skype offers one-on-one tutoring which is essentially a good point since if you use Skype to teach more than two students at the same time, the video option is lost. But this preference essentially allows for more real-time and a personal-virtual experience. The following are the basic actions that most tutors need to master in the use of Skype:
*adding and managing student contacts;
*making a Skype test call; *making a call to the students via the chat window call icon or the main window selection; *using the chat window to write messages; *checking availability of webcam under advanced options; *opening the webcam through the “start my webcam” tab during call mode; *checking call duration in the call mode to check session duration; *checking of calls and chat history under “history” tab; *checking for Skype updates under “Help” menu;
Use of Customized Learning Management System. Another interesting option for teaching online English is having a blackboard system similar to Moodle or Pageflakes. Both are free to download online. This author had the privilege to attend a workshop on the use of Moodle. A business venture catering to Taiwanese English learners use this customized system similar to Moodle that allows one teacher to teach more than one student simultaneously. But special training is required for this instance and technical support is visible during classes. This blackboard system also allows for easier teaching since the window includes a small blackboard similar to a regular blackboard seen in real classrooms that allows the teacher to draw or write on screen that the other students across the line can see at the same time.
Where are the teachers?
A person who teaches online English is called a tutor. Although the term used is not a “teacher,” a tutor is still foremost a teacher in every sense. A tutor is a well-trained teacher equipped with the skills and knowledge to teach English as a second language. There are no specific qualifications in terms of educational attainment as long as the tutor is trainable. Whether you are an undergraduate willing to earn some extra cash, a stay-at-home mom, or a college/university graduate, you are eligible to be trained as an online English tutor. Most online tutors are outsourced. This is the case of Korean companies who act as agents and outsourced for Filipino tutors. The Korean agent puts up a Korean website and advertises in Korea’s biggest portal, Naver. Last June 17 of 2008, this author went to Seoul, South Korea and read an article about Naver in the English paper of South Korea, The Korean Herald According to the article, Naver.is where Koreans go if they want to know anything – from a simple question as to what kind of mobile phone to buy or where to buy the latest gadget. This is similar to what you get when you type a question in your browser and then Yahoo! Gives you the possible answers for your question. This is how much Koreans rely for information in Naver so advertising in this portal is a good point to attract possible clients. Through advertising, information about the company, the curriculum offered and the tutors are checked. The student then registers online and the agent contacts the student. Negotiations for schedule and fee are arranged after which the agent in return contacts the tutors. The agent will give instructions to the student for the hardware and software set-up. It is the tutor who will contact the student and starts the class.
Korean students, for instance, who enroll in this program pay in their own currency, the won, and are calculated in its US dollars equivalent at the same time. But the tutors are paid in the currency where they reside. This is the main reason why outsourcing is a potentially good idea to effectively control cost. For instance, a tutor is paid approximately Php70.00 (Philippine peso) per hour of teaching, which is only $1.56 (in this case as of writing,1 US dollar is equal to Php45.00, depending on current exchange rates). The Php70.00 is a fixed rate whether the dollar rate increases or decreases. If, for example, a Korean student pays $130.00 per month with a session schedule of five times a week at 25 minutes per session, the tutor is paid Php70.00 per hour from all the students tutored, and NOT php70.00 per student. Remember that Php70.00 per hour is a relatively decent pay in the Philippines. This alone is only US $1.56 or 1,645 won per hour. Use your imagination now to mentally count how much an online school earns if they outsourced by deducting the hourly pay of the tutor from the actual monthly cost to learn English online. Take note, too, that the other costs shouldered by the company are the purchase of computers, Internet connection and office rent in the country where the tutoring is outsourced.
How to Train tutors?
There are three basic aspects in online ESL (English As A Second Language) teaching: leveling techniques, planning techniques, and teaching language skills.
Leveling Techniques. This technique will encompass talking to your student, giving proper instructions, following a pre-arranged plan if necessary, knowing the learner’s level and preparing to teach at different levels of English proficiency, and assessing the success and failure of learners.
Before the start of the class, it is essential that both the tutor and the student should establish some sort of rapport. This rapport can be established by sharing personal information about each other. This can be followed by asking your student about his or her personal experience in the use of English. In this case, it is already assumed that the student’s English language proficiency has been diagnosed. A technique called “rough-tuning” may be used when talking to your student. This means that you simplify the language that is appropriate to the student. For example, you may say “A raisin is a dried grape used in cereals or puddings…” to explain what a raisin is and then follow it with “Do you understand what I mean?” to be sure they understand what you are talking about. If they still cannot understand, try to look for a picture online and send the URL of the image or the file through your chat window. A tutor is encouraged to use physical movement like gestures or facial expressions for students with lower levels of English proficiency. Hence, a webcam is very essential in teaching online.
There are two things that a tutor should remember when giving instructions: keep it simple and orderly. The tutor should be aware of the important information that he or she should convey because the instructions given out are essential information in order for the student to complete the activities. Bear in mind that the tutor should be aware of which information should be known first and then what should come next. If you noticed, the modal verb “should” is used to explain this kind of technique. This is important because a tutor is “advised” to follow this technique. One more thing, the tutor should always check if the student understood what is being instructed. This can be done by asking the student to repeat the instructions you gave and then encouraging them to ask questions if they do not understand. There are times that connection may affect audio streaming so a “choppy-line” may occur. So it is good to tell your student to inform you right away if they cannot hear you. A pre-arranged plan should be a good attempt to achieve your goals and should be balanced with how you should respond to what your student is saying or doing. A tutor should be flexible enough to incorporate a good teaching strategy to keep the momentum going. But unforeseen situations may arise such as the student’s coping mechanism towards the lesson being introduced so a tutor should be ready to abandon plans if he or she is going too fast or too slow.
There are three basic levels in English proficiency: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. A Beginner student does not know any English nor has minimal knowledge of English words or common expressions. An Intermediate student has a basic idea of common English expressions, with basic competence in English speaking, reading and writing and fair listening skills that allows the student to comprehend straight-forward English questions. An Advanced student is competent in the English language that allows the student to communicate fluently with even native English speakers. Now that you know the different levels, take note that teaching in different levels affects “language.” Beginners should be exposed to simple line of questioning. For instance, instead of asking “How have you been today?” ask the question this way “How are you?” It is more straight-forward. A tutor’s behavior is affected by the level of the student’s English proficiency. A tutor may need to exaggerate his or her tone and hand gestures just so the beginner student can grasp the meaning of what the tutor is trying to say. So simple drills are fine and should dispense with abstract activities when it comes to beginner students. In other words, all teaching materials should reflect the needs of the students.
Feedback is a sure way to find out if learning occurred. This may be assessed by directly asking the student regarding the activities or exercises. The tutor may also do a “recall-connect” assessment technique (since written test is not possible in online tutoring) wherein the tutor will ask the student to give, say five terms/words learned from the session, and then ask the student to pick out two words and make a sentence to create a relationship between the two words picked out (the student can write the words in their chat window). The student may also do this in the other words. The tutor should start with an example of this technique so the student can follow suit. A simple homework can be given, too, since this will encourage the student to come prepared for class. It is recommended that a web-based progress report should be created to allow the tutor to post the student’s progress. The web-based form would include student’s details, a rubric for assessment in the different learning areas (listening comprehension, speaking skill, pronunciation, vocabulary and use of expression), tutor’s comment and a next plan. The rubric would have a set of numeric criteria like 1-3 for “needs improvement,” 4-6 for satisfactory, 7-9 for very satisfactory and 10 alone can be for excellent. The tutor can click on the corresponding radio button for each numeric criteria to rate the student’s progress. A “comments box” should be included in the form to also allow the student to post their comments from the tutor’s report. By logging in to the homepage, the student will be aware of their progress.
Lesson Planning Techniques. There is no “correct” format in lesson planning preparation. A lesson plan serves the purpose of making teaching systematic. A tutor starts the planning by setting achievable goals for a session. By “achievable” we mean that these goals or objectives are S.M.A.R.T – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bounded.
It is advisable for the online tutor to first check that his or her webcam and headset are working properly before starting the session. So being online and ready 15 minutes before your session will ease all worries, especially if it is something technical.
A regular online session starts with the tutor explaining what the lesson is for that day. For example, by explaining to the student that he or she will read a story from a textbook and then will answer the questions related to the story will already constitute what the tutor sets out to achieve for that day’s session. The tutor may start with the lesson proper by reviewing the previous lesson; introducing a motivational activity, like sending a picture file of a bird and asking the student to describe the picture, (prior to the lesson proper) to introduce “adjectives;” starting with the lesson proper with a set of prepared questions and activities for the student to respond to; recapping the day’s session; and then ending with an assessment technique. Before ending the session, the tutor will inform the student of the next day’s lesson and give out a short homework. After the session, the tutor should make the progress report as soon as possible. The following is a simple flowchart of lesson planning:
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Figure 1. Simple Lesson Planning Format for Online English Language Teaching Teaching Language Skills. English language learning encompasses the study of grammar, speaking, listening, reading and writing.
Grammar study includes the study of the parts of speech in sentence construction. The activities that can be used in online tutoring are showing or presenting of pictures, charts, time lines, poems, songs, sayings/quotes and then question-and-answer portion.
Speaking skill is both form-focused for accuracy purposes and meaning-based for fluency that will allow students to actually practice the language. There is actual feedback and both the tutor and the student can engage in meaningful English conversation. A typical activity that is commonly used in online tutoring in order to enhance speaking skill is role-playing. The tutor and the student read a script while injecting appropriate undertones. The tutor may also show a survey chart and then ask the student pertinent questions regarding the survey and this includes asking the opinion of the student regarding the survey results. Poetry reading and song interpretation (you may select a good video from Youtube and then give the URL) may be a good way to get the student’s ideas. Asking the student to give directions from a sample map may be a good exercise in giving instructions from the point of view of the speaker.
Listening may be informational, critical, and appreciative. Students are asked to listen to the content of any materials presented to them like audio files; then asked for their analysis or judgement regarding the audio file and then at the same time, any listening material should be something that is enjoyable for the student. A sample activity to enhance this skill is to typically let the student listen to audio files. These audio files should come with a corresponding script that the tutor should have in handy. A student is given ample time to listen to the audio file. Then a set of questions will be asked to the student. It is note-worthy to know that if a student is encouraged to take down notes while listening to the audio file, the student will definitely be precise (up to the small details like names of people) in his or her answers and not just rely on mere guesses if multiple choice questions are employed. One aspect of reading skill that should first be realized is the student’s keen interest in reading. The capability to read may be evident but the interest may not exactly be gauged as this depends on the student’s liking. But what the tutor can teach is how to keenly skim or scan text from a reading selection material. The student also needs to identify the meaning of words that the student is not familiar with – denotation of words (literal meaning), connotation (emotional implications) and contextual (relating to the situation in which the word is found). By knowing what needs to be taught, the tutor can direct the student in evaluating or judging the text. Sample activities that can be used for online tutoring are showing sample ads or things for sale (files for these should be prepared beforehand) so that the student can learn how to make a choice; sequencing of instructions for simple steps, e.g. baking/cooking; or reading a narrative with missing text that will allow the student to supply the missing words.
Writing is a tricky aspect of teaching the English language online. But teaching writing should include reinforcement – asking the students to jot down words or expressions as a way to practice memorization; language development – that will make the student realize that writing is progressive; learning style – that student learn writing at their pace; and writing as a skill – that the student learns to write in formal and informal settings. One possible activity is for the tutor to give a specific topic for the student to write. If possible, incorporate the writing aspect in the lesson plan as homework and which the student can email to the tutor. The tutor, in return, will check the homework before the start of the class and then discuss the corrections during class. This particular homework should not be hurried and it is recommended that the student is given a few days to write the essay, if possible. A tutor has to consider the fact that homework should not be an added burden to the student’s hectic schedule - for the simple reason that students enroll in such a program in order to study at their own pace. Students have differentiated learning styles so even attempting to write an essay is a feat for both the student and the tutor, especially if they are learning the English language as a second language. Expectations, in this instance, should not be very high since in worse situations, high expectations can result in unsolicited demands towards the student and disappointment in the part of the tutor.
Creating the Balance between Learning and Technology
The growing prominence of online tutorial is attributed to how mainstream courses can be presented in an online set-up that is convenient for the both the student and tutor. How the courses can be presented is a major factor in its success to deliver lessons the same way regular classroom learning can be established. Whether or not the student has a decent grounding of the subject chosen for self-paced training, online tutorial will serve as an option for learners to continue training or learning. This aspect specifically holds true for the study of the English language as a second language. The only difference between online tutorials to classroom teaching is how certain activities can only be applicable to either one training mode or even both. What is both common to teaching in analog classrooms and digital classrooms is how the general principles of teaching is still applied. Only technology makes it possible for students to bring the classroom to them because the tutors are brought directly to their office or homes. Striking the balance between learning and technology is established when tutoring imbibes the unique needs of the learner while catering to this special need at the same time in order to accommodate learning.
Jenkins, J. and Visser, G. (2001). E-learning – Everybody’s Business, retrieved October 16, 2008 from http://www.imaginal.nl/elearning.htm. Note: The author wishes to convey that all ideas in this article are original writing based on stock knowledge and experiences. Concepts of Language Teaching are concepts that the author has retained from various workshops and learned throughout her work experience in this field. Any similarity in the concepts used is merely coincidental, as these are concepts generally used in teaching. All suggestions in this article are suggestions that the author had conveyed while training and supervising online teachers in her previous line of work.