Are you new to the world of Zoom? Or looking for the best way to get the most out of it? Then you’re in the right place! This video software is taking the world by storm, don’t fall behind and get the most out of your account in your next lesson. 

Zoom has become a seriously popular software to use for virtual meet-ups globally. Since its launch, teachers worldwide have also been using it for their classes. It has taken video meetings to the next level. Students also don’t even need an account to join the class. This is unlike Skype which has a very popular messaging system but does require all participants to have an account and Microsoft email. 

Zoom meeting

5 Tips and Tricks for Zoom Lessons

1. Set Up Properly and Prepare for the Worst

Before starting your lesson, you should be at your desk 15 minutes beforehand. You have a couple of things to do! Make sure your laptop or device was turned off or restarted for updates. Close all the tabs and apps that you won’t be using as this may slow down the device. At the same time, have any tabs or documents open and ready for the lesson. This can be your PowerPoint presentation or YouTube videos.

Now that your device is ready, read a little over your materials and be academically prepared. Once you are ready, log into your Zoom account and start the meeting. You don’t need to immediately accept students from the waiting room that came early, but it’s a nice chance to test your mic and video and take attendance. Make sure to also have whatever communication system you use to look out for any students having trouble. Normally, this is email so have your email app open too. It goes without saying, but Wi-Fi should be adequate to screen share (this can slow down your computer). 

2. Lesson Planning: An Extra Step

When lesson planning for an in-classroom lesson, there are some things we take for granted. You know that you’ll have a blackboard, whiteboard, or projector set up for you. You may have props already from the school that you can avail of. You’ll have a desk and chair in the classroom. These are all things you don’t have when teaching online because you are working remotely. There are lots of cool digital aids out there for teachers that will help you create a classroom environment. Also, be sure to have a professional, clean room to work from or use a virtual background. 

3. Use the Breakout Rooms

In ESL classrooms, pair and group work is a very effective way of learning. You may think that this is no longer possible with online teaching, but it is! Zoom has a breakout room feature, which means you can assign students to different rooms to practice English. You can also pop in and out of each breakout room as the host. 

Group Work

4. Check for Technical Difficulties

At the start of each class, make sure that your students are settled and know how to use the features in Zoom. A link to a quick YouTube tutorial along with the Zoom link in your email will help students who have not used Zoom before be more confident joining your virtual class. Before the lesson begins, ask the students if everyone can hear you by “raising your hand” (this is another cool feature on Zoom). Taking these precautions will ensure a smoother learning experience. 

5. Take Advantage of Zoom Support

Zoom has a lot of cool features which is why it’s so popular. Zoom also knows that all these features might be a little overwhelming to some users. This is why they have set up Zoom Support Courses. They are completely free for the user and are broken down into courses and modules. If you know the basics, you can skip through the sections that will be beneficial for you. Check it out here

FAQs

Is Zoom good for online English teaching?

Zoom is one of the third-party softwares that you can use to be able to teach online, and it’s popular for a reason! With features like breakout rooms, virtual backgrounds, screen share, host control, and recurring scheduling, you’ll find its friendly user face to be a teacher’s dream! 

If you are teaching a group of students for more than one hour, you’ll need to sign up for premium access, but the monthly fee isn’t that bad and you’ll make a profit in just one class. We all hate paying for subscriptions, but when you put it into perspective, it’s actually quite a steal for the service you are getting. 

How do you make Zoom TEFL teaching fun?

When teaching, sometimes it can be hard to make it fun, especially in a class you have to cover but is boring. For instance, my least favorite subject would be phrasal verbs! When teaching online, as a lot of teachers found out during the pandemic, it proves to be even harder. 

With Zoom, you can make the classes fun by using breakout rooms and continuing with interactive pair or group work. You can then come together at the end where each pair or group can demonstrate their practices. You can also use screen share to show fun learning videos or use the Realia method by using props behind your screens, such as maps or puppets. 

For one-to-one teaching, we recommend holding your classes for just 30 to 40 minutes. You’ll see that online companies normally hold classes for this amount of time and the reason is that that much attention for the student solely on themselves can be tiring. Make sure your lesson plan is interactive and compact to keep the lesson fun. 

How can I teach a group of students on Zoom online?

For the most part, you’ll most likely need the premium version of Zoom. The reason being is that the free version gives you a limited time. You’ll also have more control as the host. Teaching a group of students with the free version can be manic and they may all get cut off. It doesn’t look professional and you may lose students if they miss out on paid learning time. 

If you are new to Zoom, make sure to watch a few YouTube videos on how to use Zoom properly and test it out with colleagues or friends. Host a quiz or wine night with your new premium access and fiddle around with the controls. This way you’ll feel a lot more confident for your first Zoom group lesson. 

Remember to use the amazing features such as breakout rooms and screen share. For breakout rooms, you should know how to assign students to each room, jump in and out of their individual rooms to check up on their progress, and call them back to the main room after their pair or group work time is complete. 

How do you set up a Zoom classroom?
  1. You’ll first need to create an account and verify your email address. It’s best to use your work email address or a professional email to do this as this is an email that your students will see. 
  2. Once you have an account (paid or free), click on schedule a meeting. 
  3. If you are setting up a recurring meeting, your topic should be general, such as “English Learning with Sarah”. If this is a one-time event, choose a topic a little more specific like “IELTS Preparation: Lesson 1”. 
  4. Fill out the date, time, duration, time zone, and passcode, and choose your preferences for the waiting room. The waiting room means that once students click the link they’ll be automatically put into a waiting room until you accept them into the class.
  5. Zoom will generate a share link for you and you’ll be able to email your students this link with any other information you’d like to share (what to bring, what to prep). The share content will also have the date and time and passcode written for you. 
  6. On the day of your class, log into Zoom, start meeting, and keep an eye on the waiting room. Once you access them, it’s time to start teaching!
How do you engage students in online classes?

Keeping your students engaged is half the battle in teaching and something that is sometimes overlooked. One thing to remember is that subject that you find interesting may not be interesting to a student. Here are some tips to keep your students engaged: 

  • Keep your voice loud and clear. Getting lost in a lesson is the worst and can result in students “switching off”. 
  • Keep the lesson interactive. You can do this by taking the student-centered approach and using the breakout rooms. 
  • Be friendly and approachable. GIve an introduction every time to say that if anyone has technical difficulties, just to raise their hand. It’s ok to interrupt. 
  • Ask them to repeat consistently. This way you can hear their pronunciation, but also make sure their listening. 
  • Try and encourage them to keep their mics and videos on. Seeing everyone in grid view will give them the sense that they are in a classroom. 

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