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How to engage different types of learners in an online English group class

When teaching an online English group class, you’re going to get a mixed bag of learners. How can you ensure that each learner gets the most out of each class without having the class erupt into chaos? 

Here are some common types of learners you will encounter in an online English group class and how you can best engage them so everyone has a great time and can maximize their learning experience.

1) The shy one 

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Some students are not very outgoing and prefer to keep to themselves. They will rarely volunteer to go first and usually won’t speak out unless being called upon.

What to do: To help these students become more involved in class without overwhelming them by putting them on the spot, have them take their turn after other students model the activity. You can also pair them with other students to participate in activities together. 

2) The MIA (missing in action) one

You’re not really sure if this student is there or not. Their video and mic are turned off most of the time. They don’t respond half the time you call on them. 

What to do: Don’t pretend they’re not there anymore. Keep calling on them every once in a while to see if they’re back. Sometimes they may have left for a few minutes to use the bathroom or take a call, but often they will be back at some point if their name is still active in the teaching platform.

3) The chatterbox

This student likes to talk…really likes to talk. Sometimes they may talk over other students. Other times you may have no idea what they are talking about, but they just keep on talking.

What to do: Respectfully tell them to speak only when it’s their turn and in extreme measures, you may have to mute their microphone and explain in a private chat that it’s important to give other students equal opportunities to share. 

4) The inquisitor

As a teacher, you probably often encourage your students to ask questions, but some students take that to the next level and never stop asking questions. This may disrupt the flow of the class or make other students annoyed.

What to do: Explain to the students that at the end of each slide, there will be opportunities to ask questions. You can tell the students to write their questions in the chat box as well, and answer them when appropriate. 

5) The corrector

Sometimes there will be a student who constantly tries to correct other students. Their corrections may not even be right, which confuses the other students even more.

What to do: Kindly thank them for their willingness to help, but tell them that they must give other students the opportunity to finish what they want to say. You can create an environment in your online classroom where students can work together to make corrections for each other.

6) The lost sheep

This student has no idea what is going on because they either don’t have the language to understand or they are easily distracted. 

What to do: You can allow these kinds of students to participate more by giving them more readings and having them do simple tasks. Keep them involved so that they can follow along and feel free to use other students as your assistants to help guide the lost sheep. 

7) The intellectual  

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This is the student who already seems to know everything that you’re going to cover, so the class content could be a bit dull. They politely participate and get it all right, but they’re not being challenged.

What to do: Use these students as your assistants to help explain concepts to other students. They can be great to help you with the lost sheep or the inquisitor. We all know that the best way to test whether you truly understand something is to teach it to someone else. 

We hope you found this article helpful for your future group lessons. If you have any other tips for engaging different types of learners in an online English group class, feel free to share them in the comments below!

LatinHire is currently hiring a lot of online English teachers for Latino students (adults and children). If you are interested in joining LatinHire’s teaching team, click here to apply!

Ellier Leng
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