aspects of online English language learning platforms for students studying abroad

10 aspects of online English language learning platforms for students studying abroad

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Over the years, there has been a global transformation in the way learning and teaching are carried out. Technological advancements have made remote learning/teaching possible, while the occurrence of recent health and related social issues have made it a necessity. Now, whether it be live or recorded, online learning is becoming a favourite among educators and learners. This is because an increasing number of students and academic institutions feel that the quality of online education is equal or superior to that provided in a classroom-based environment.

Despite the unavoidable teething problems, the shift from in-person to remote learning/teaching has numerous advantages.

From a practical point of view, learning/teaching remotely is:

  • accessible: A mobile phone and an internet connection are sufficient to open doors to education and training for a wider range of people.
  • flexible: Wherever they are and whenever it is convenient, students and teachers can structure a timetable around their personal commitments, taking advantage of multiple options: live (synchronous), recorded (asynchronous), or hybrid (part-remote, part-in-person) courses.
  • affordable: Teaching remotely allows institutions to avoid unnecessary costs, such as rent for their premises, making learning online a lot cheaper than its face-to-face counterpart.
  • time-saving: If you have ever experienced any delays while on your way to work, college, or uni, you can appreciate how precious time is. Nobody wants to be stuck in traffic, when they could be doing something more productive, like learning something new. Learning/teaching remotely allows you to do just that: save time avoiding those pesky commutes.

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From a user-experience point of view, online teaching and learning can:

  • be personalised: From the educator’s perspective, addressing learners’ needs is much easier, as the learning materials can be shared in a number of ways – from videos to forum discussions. From the learner’s perspective, the learning process becomes a lot more effective because they feel their needs are being met and their course has been designed especially to fulfil their goals.
  • encourage collaboration: Forums and shared documents are only some of the tools that allow students to work together from anywhere in the world.
  • allow timely feedback: Technology has streamlined the way in which submissions and feedback occurs: uploading, downloading. and editing documents has never been easier.
  • increase engagement levels: It’s a well-known fact that learning and working is easier when you’re having fun. From flashcards to surveys, from storyboards to competitions, there are plenty of online tools to make your lessons more fun and engaging.
  • become the main (or an additional) source of income for teachers: There’s a considerable number of online schools that are equipped with a platform to connect teachers and students. Each of these schools works in slightly different ways, and it has different requirements. For example:
      1. Italki – teach any language you are proficient in. Unlike with other online platforms, with Italki you can set your own hourly fee – usually around $25.
      2. Learnlight – work with business professionals who are eager to improve their language skills. You can choose to teach any of the following languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian. You’ll need some prior teaching experience to work with Learnlight.
      3. Cambly – help international students develop their English language skills in an informal setting offering conversation lessons. Previous teaching experience and a university degree aren’t necessary to work for Cambly. Ready-made lesson materials are available if needed and there’s a strict safety protocol in place.
  • offer a wider range of opportunities: Nowadays, whatever you want to learn (or teach), there is a course for it! With English being the common language for international business and communication, EFL (English as a Foreign Language) is one of the most popular courses available online. As a result, the demand for TEFL teachers remains high. If you are not familiar with the role of a TEFL teacher, but it sounds interesting, find out more in this article by The TEFL Org.

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Online teaching/learning: what’s the verdict?

Despite the increasing number of institutions that are now committed to offering good quality online education, there are still some people who are against it. It is true that online teaching is prone to technical glitches, but technology is constantly improving and software is under continuous scrutiny to develop new versions that focus on creating a better user experience.

Some  believe that the lack of regular face-to-face interaction might lead to learners’ isolation and increased stress levels caused by the need for strict self-discipline. Others would argue that self-discipline is a necessary skill required to enter the world of work or to progress in a successful career path.

Another alleged disadvantage of online teaching is that it forces educators to develop technical skills in order to deliver their lessons remotely. While this kind of training might feel intimidating for some, most educators embrace a philosophy of life-long learning and enjoy developing new skills. Becoming more confident in using online platforms will be beneficial not only for their teaching profession, but it can be also useful in the future, should they wish to change their career path.

Online learning: is the jury still out?

It is perhaps still early days for a unanimous verdict on the case ‘online vs in-person education’, but change is in the air. Classroom-based learning was considered impossible to beat in terms of engagement and effectiveness. However, online teaching has developed in such a way that it is able to provide equally valuable lessons, as well as bringing a wide range of advantages that have a positive impact on the learner and the educator.

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