The supplies you need to teach English online fall into three categories: technology, classroom set-up, and teaching. I am sharing with you what I use and find helpful when teaching English online. You may have many of these supplies already but if not, you may what to consider acquiring them as soon as you can if you are going to be an online English teacher. There are many resources that are inexpensive and even free however, you may need to make some purchases. I didn’t spend much money in the very beginning, but as I started making money, I re-invested some of my income to ensure I had an effective online classroom to give my students a first class learning experience.
I will list the basics and then I will list some additional items used to make teaching English online easier. All the items I list, I use. I am sure you have many of these resources already.
1.) This goes almost without saying: a reliable desktop, laptop, Mac, or surface device. VIPKid recommends a minimum operating system of Windows 7 or Mac OS 10.x, and at least 4GB RAM memory. You will need the latest Flash Version and use Chrome or Firefox. I use a HP Envy x360.
2.) A very good and stable internet connection. VIPKid recommends an Internet connection of at least 20 Mbps (Ethernet is highly recommended as well). I primarily use an Ethernet cord with a Netgear router. I use WIFI with a Netgear WiFi signal booster as backup. Do all you can to help ensure that you have the fastest Internet available to you. I conduct Internet speed tests regularly. Don’t be afraid to call your Internet provider if your Internet isn’t running as fast as it should be, if you are paying for fast you should be getting fast. I have done this a few times.
3.) A HD Integrated camera. Most laptops have very good cameras already installed and I used mine in the very beginning, but I found the external camera to be a better option for online teaching. The video quality is better with an external camera and it gives you some flexibility while teaching a class. I use a Logitech HD camera.
4.) Comfortable headphones with a microphone and a mute button. You can use earbuds but if you have pets or children headphones are really a must have. In addition, you will have this on your head for hours at a time, so you want them to be comfortable. I went with cheap headphones at first but they were so uncomfortable I started getting headaches, so I researched and purchased a better headset. I found that a gaming headset was the way to go. You need to make sure it has volume control and a mute button for those unexpected disruptions. I use the HyperX Cloud Stinger – Gaming Headset.
The items already listed are the basics but there are a few other technology items you may want to consider if you are teaching online.
5.) A good printer for printing out lesson plans, 2-D props, and other items. I use an HP ENVY 5055 Wireless All-in-One Photo Printer with Instant Ink (Instant Ink is a money saver if you are into printing your own props).
6.) A tablet, iPad, Kindle, or smartphone for digital rewards and digital teaching props. There are entire communities and Facebook groups dedicated to digital rewards and props and if you can utilize digital rewards and props you will be glad you did. I use an iPad Pro in my online classroom for digital rewards and props.
Classroom Setup Supplies:
I teach in both a traditional classroom and online classroom. I don’t need as many classroom resources for my online classes as I do my traditional classes but nonetheless you will want a few items to make your online classroom effective and efficient.
1.) A magnetic whiteboard with Expo markers. If you are teaching English online, you will be teaching multiple different students with different lessons. It is nice to erase after a class and use it for the very next class. A whiteboard can allow for teaching different lessons repeatedly. You want a magnetic board so you can use different types of teaching props with it. I use two whiteboards: a large one that sits in my background and a hand held one.
2.)A map: you are international online English teacher, it helps. I use Collins Children’s World Map.
3. ) A good lamp – you are teaching students online that must see you so you must have a well lite video feed with no shadows. Here is what I use: Light Accents Medusa Grey Floor Lamp with White Acrylic Shades
4.) Teaching Prop storage: You will be accumulating teaching props, you need somewhere to put them. Here is what I use, I use two of these: Homz Plastic 4 Drawer Medium Cart,
5.) An adjustable computer or laptop stand. You will be teaching for hours, you want the option of being able to stand or sit. I use an Eureka Ergonomic Standing Desk Converter. It is a little pricey but I like have the option of standing, sitting, or both while I teach and an option that allows me enough room to place a computer with teaching props
You are teaching English to non-English speakers, and in many cases young children. Just like a traditional classroom, you are going to need some teaching resources. In the online teaching world, these resources are called teaching “props”. Here is a short list of what is considered the must haves if you plan on teaching English online.
1.) Flashcards– The most effective cards and used include: letters, numbers, colors, shapes, and basic English words. I use Playschool Flashcards
2.) Puppets– These are important for re-creating conversations, especially if the student is a new English learner. They can be used for ice breakers as well as put younger learners at ease if this is the first time you are teaching them. I use JOYIN Animal Friends Deluxe Kids Hand Puppets with Working Mouth.
3.) Plush animals- serve the same purpose as puppets. I have a variety that I use. Most of them belonged to my children when they were babies.
4.) A microphone (not connected to the computer or anything else but used as a visual) for singing songs. I am a terrible singer but when teaching English, I make the best of it.
Many of the items already listed you may already have or can find at thrift store. I owned, found and bought some. The following items can also be purchased but if you have a good printer (see above) and some time you can make them yourself.
5.) Characters on pop sickle sticks, especially for VIPKid: I use VIPKid Character Props
6.) A variety of 2-D teaching props, and if you don’t want to make your own, there are Online Teaching Bundles you can purchase. If you become a VIPKid teacher, there are a large number of 2-D props and rewards that you can download and print for free. You will need to still do some cutting but the artwork is done for you.
It goes without saying that if you are going to work from home you are going to need some additional items to work with. I am not going to list all of them but pens, paper, stapler, tape dispenser, etc. come in handy at various times.
I believe this is a comprehensive list of must haves to create effective and efficient online classroom that will allow you to teach English online. I am not advocating that you buy all these items. In fact, you may already own many of them, and if you don’t you can create them or find them at thrift stores or garage sales. If you don’t have these items, don’t worry just go with the basics and acquire as you teach which is exactly what I did.
When I first started, I wanted a list of essential supplies for teaching English online and I wasn’t really satisfied in my search, so I hope this helps you.
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