A Term Online: Teaching Diary (#4.5)

Dear diary, I just thought I’d “fill in the picture” a bit regarding the online teaching I’m doing this term. Actually, not only what I’m doing this term, but where I’ve been, where I’m at, and where I’m going soon (hint: it’s all nowhere but this computer screen; this is where I’ve been, where I live, and I’m not going anywhere else, at all, at any point in the near future). Heh.

Here’s the rundown:

Current: A listening & speaking course for +/- 150 3rd year English majors in 4 sections at a Thai uni. 2 hours/week. Via Zoom, with forums and other bits on a self-designed Moodle, plus an active Line chat app group. This is the course I’ve been writing about so far.

Starting soon: a fully online test preparation course (IELTS, TOEIC, etc.) for uni students (2nd year, I think). Supervisor of this course tells me not to expect doing live lessons for it. Instead, web-based supervision and support as students move through online practice tests and input materials.

Starting soon: another uni course: “English for Job Applicants”. Delivery likely to be closer to the listening & speaking course with live online classes via Zoom. Includes a course book co-written by faculty here. Will follow their lead, but expect deviation from CB-dependent practices.

Potentially starting soon: a university institute-based self-designed course called “English Vocabulary and Grammar through Thai News and Culture” open to the general population. I plan to used news articles and content from English language books, websites, and other media dealing with Thai culture and news to deliver engaging text-based language lessons along with skills development practice.

Ongoing: private lessons on Zoom in the evening. My main clients being a husband and wife team of Thai ophthalmologists who became by students back in 2013 while in a a year-long residency at a Boston hospital and I was a CELTA tutor downtown near the condo they were staying in. Of course then I met them face-toface. But now on Zoom, because they live by the river in the city and I’m on the outskirts, and we’re all busy. I mean, technically I’m in a whole other province. But it’s a neat relationship now spanning fleshy brick and mortar and virtual bits and bytes, all within a continent-spanning global private language tutoring karma connection, yippee!

Recently, now ended: ACT on a couple of fully-online CELTA courses. This is what really got me sincerely ‘into’ teaching online. Without that experience, I’m not sure how I’d have fared; I certainly wouldn’t have hit the ground running to the extent that I have. Much to learn, so much to learn – but having been thrown into the deep end of being required to teach people how to teach synchronously on Zoom and doing a fare few training course input sessions online, I got that spin-up. Thank goodness. What was missing, though, was the asynchronous aspect. Which is a big chunk. A huge chunk. If the CELTA is going to evolve to include a serious focus on training for online teaching, it’s going to have to recognize this. The ‘stuff in-between’ part of teaching has always been ignored on that and similar courses. “No, you can’t give homework!”. TP lessons are vacuum-sealed one-off events. Even offline, this is a poor representation of the actual workspace of teaching and learning. And now with online teaching, screaming out, as it does, for ‘flipping’, project-based work, learner autonomy, etc…even more so.

Also recently, now ended: I taught a Thai-Japanese 10 year old who attends an international school in downtown Bangkok where his mother, my former colleague and good friend, teaches Thai. About 12 years ago I was the voice on a CD that came with an English phonics book she wrote. That was unpaid work of a sort though my tummy would disagree; for compensation back then, I got a really nice sushi buffet lunch. This time its barter work. I teach her son on Zoom while he’s on summer vaycay, and she will provide me with Thai language lessons (my focus is on reading and writing). This couple of months was the extent of my TEYL online experience. It was really fun, actually. But I think that was mostly based on the kid and our relationship.

So anyway, those are the things in my purview these days or in recent days. Mind you it’s late and I might be forgetting something. Nevertheless it’s a-plenty. Fellow teachers probably recognize it as pretty normal. 🙂

I just thought it’d be good to get it down here. I’m going to continue to train in on the one class, I think, here in my online teaching diary. But it’s part of a larger set of related things. Just like everything else.

Okay, diary. Before I go I’m just going to throw some ‘clippings’ in your pages for posterity. Hold onto them. I may want to look back later.

Here’s something I was just now doing with one of the ophthalmologists. We do medical English and stuff often, but sometimes we just wanna do something fun and different. Human interest. Or in this case feline interest. A lesson based on materials freely shared on Rachel Roberts’ great old site https://elt-resourceful.com/downloadable-lesson-materials/:

And another sort of random clipping, but it’s a snapshot of my online teaching life right now so it lands in these pages. It’s from some recent focus on pronunciation with ophthalmologist #2 (clearly I love repeating the word ophthalmologist in my blog, it’s got such…tangled gravity, lol):

Now that’s interesting material, is it not? It comes from my TESOL MA program professor at Boston University, Dr. Marnie Reed.

…now, farewell dear diary. I shall write in your pages again soon. Tomorrow I have both morning AND afternoon sections to teach, so I’m just a bit pessimistic that after all those hours, on Friday’s late afternoon, I shall address you. But stranger things have happened.

PS – it might not be true that I’ll be stuck at this computer screen for such a long, long time, in fact. Because Thailand is kickin’ COVID butt. These uni classes may indeed not last the full term as fully-online thangs. They might come back. Soonish! WUT! No, really. It’s in the air. I hear tell of such things. Many universities here, in fact, did not go fully online in the first place. Oh, diary. I’ll still love you even if that happens. I’ll still write in you, we’ll just have to make a few adjustments.

FIN

3 thoughts on “A Term Online: Teaching Diary (#4.5)

  1. Great to hear that you’re pretty busy with online work which is great. I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up some online work with a student that I was introduced to last year for his pre-sessional course.

    I’ve been tutoring him ever since and have been developing his fluency skills. Also been asked to proofread his assignments and support where necessary. He has improved so much and it’s great to see him a month away from his dissertation.

    Other than that, I have my university work and this is regular enough for me. I’m in the middle of a pre-sessional course and the whole online focus makes me question this method of teaching and learning.

    There is a huge amount of asynchronous learning and then the synchronous teaching/learning focuses on answering questions, reviewing topics and responding to students. Not really teaching but facilitating.

    I miss the face-to-face classes and I will be returning to the physical classroom with social distancing included – more to include in my blog in the future. Anyhow, I can’t wait to get back to work as I miss the social interaction. We are social animals!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure I really caught what you meant by this: “I’m in the middle of a pre-sessional course and the whole online focus makes me question this method of teaching and learning”. Can you say more?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The pre-sessional course is preparing students for their academic studies in Higher Educational institute but a lot of the input is responding to students’ questions and reminding them of where to find the self-study material. Very much a facilitator rather than developing fluency for learners. I miss the spontaneity and interaction that is found in a physical classroom.

        Liked by 1 person

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