Michael has been working for Keystone for over 3 years, tutoring students online in English. In this short question and answer article, Michael covers some of the key concerns that parents often have about the effectiveness of online tuition, based on his own extensive experience. He also talks about some of the tools and techniques that can be used by tutors and students to get the most out of online tuition.
We hope this article helps you in investigating how online English tuition can help your child achieve their full potential.
What would you say are the main benefits of online English tutoring?
The combination of an online whiteboard and/or google docs is very productive for presenting and editing student essays, and working on essay structure. Online whiteboards provide a reliable bank of completed work, and are often the easiest format for comparing essays and assessing progress.
Is it harder for students to focus when you are teaching them online? What are your ways around this?
Older students are often as, if not more, focused in online sessions, and their work is reliably banked for review. Younger students can sometimes click around and be on several internet tabs at once. My ways around this include:
- Establishing a dynamic where the student knows they need to be attentive - e.g. reading a passage out loud and abruptly asking the student to carry on reading at unexpected junctures
- Enforcing "good" research vs "bad" research - e.g. rewarding provision by the student of extra, relevant images or quotes from other texts, while enforcing a ban on googling things without asking and for the sake of it
Is it harder to build a relationship with students online? What are your ways around this?
Students are in my experience so used to online interaction that building relationships is not an issue. I make sure, especially in initial sessions, that I establish a discursive tone for part of the session and create literary discussions where the student and I are looking at and talking to each other. This ensures we are not glued to the whiteboard, and creates a more "human" dynamic overall.
What makes an effective online tutor?
An effective online tutor:
- Balances dialogue and a "face-to-face" nurturing atmosphere with rigorous use of a whiteboard
- Uses a system (colour-coding, font variation, areas of a board) to establish a rhythm for the student completing work and the tutor marking it
- Celebrates the productive aspects of the student's immediate access to internet resources (from jstor to Youtube) while not letting this deter from the academic thrust and objectives of the lesson
Are there any interesting things you can do when tutoring English online that you wouldn’t be able to do in person?
It is much easier to give clear and variegated feedback online. Students attribute a dusty finality to the "red pen" on their essays on physical paper. A colour-coded array of "sticky notes" or text boxes produces feedback to which, in my experience, students respond more readily.
The immediate access to watching clips - e.g. of Shakespeare or "A Streetcar Named Desire" - is useful and clips can be deployed precisely with focus on actors' gestures / scenery etc. through "share screen."
Can you give an example of a student who has particularly benefited through online English tuition with you
A student preparing for ELAT (based overseas) responded dynamically to online sessions, and reported that her approach to unseen essay-writing felt much stronger after our work together. Our sessions featured an ideal combination of organic and electronic work, with handwritten homework tasks being uploaded to the board and analysed using "sticky notes" and text boxes. This allowed us to unpack the shape of the student's paragraphs and thrusts of her arguments very clearly, and to immediately compare stronger work with previous, weaker work. Both the student and I found this combination very effective.
Lastly, what do you like most about working with Keystone?
What I like most about working with Keystone is the professional framework that the company has created for tutoring. Keystone nurtures a connected cohort of subject specialists, a practice of self-evaluative teaching and a supportive structure for engaging and communicating with clients.
Online English tuition
Keystone Tutors have a number of highly experienced Online English tutors who have experience of teaching English across the age spectrum from 7 years old up to undergraduate level. They cover exams including 7+, 8+ and Common Entrance as well as GCSE, IGCSE, A Level, IB and Pre-U. Many of the English tutors we match with students are current or former teachers and many have studied English at top universities, including Oxford and Cambridge.
For more details on how Keystone can help with online English tuition, please call the office for a chat with one of our client managers, or contact us via our request a tutor form.