Accredited teaching English online course

This article explains the main points of teaching English online lesson planning and appropriate teaching material in a virtual classroom.

What is the Trinity CertPT Online Accredited Teaching English Online course?

The Trinity CertPT Online:

  1. gives you the skills for selecting, creating and using relevant and relatable teaching material in a virtual classroom
  2. is an accredited Ofqual level 6 diploma level course
  3. is a continuing professional development (CPD) course

How to increase your value as a modern teacher

Want to earn more and grow as a modern educator? Take the Trinity College CertPT accredited teaching English Online course and make yourself even more marketable.

Click here to learn more about the Ofqual level 6 accredited Trinity CertPT Online course, including a one-year Spanish student visa option for Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, and San Sebastian.

Read on to find out more about teaching English online techniques.

How to plan engaging lessons for your online classroom

Teaching English online is even more demanding on us than classroom teaching. There is some wriggle room for adaptation in a physical classroom, but in a virtual classroom, there isn’t.

A well-planned lesson for teaching English online is critical for learning, retention, and engagement.

This article concentrates on the principles and foundations of building an engaging lesson plan for teaching English online.

Understand Your Students

Before you teach your first class, you should try and find out something about them. For example, can you ask your school, academy or the last class teacher? If there is no history, you could try reaching out to the students before the first class and ask them to fill out a simple questionnaire covering their level and expectations. If this isn’t possible, you should spend the first part of your first class asking them questions to determine their English level and tell you their expectations.

Set a clear lesson objective

When teaching English online, only two of the four sensory inputs are present. For example, you can see and hear but not smell and touch. This absence of two of our four senses may sound like an odd statement, but the lack of these two sensory inputs can be offputting. In a virtual classroom, you are there, but you aren’t there. Instead, the attendees are talking heads on a two-dimensional screen.

The lack of a robust connection between the teacher and learners means that a clear learning objective is critical to success. In addition, a clear learning objective helps you and your learners stay on track.

Use lots of visuals

The teaching materials you use should always match your teaching environment. For example, a virtual classroom is a two-dimensional computer screen. A virtual classroom is purpose-built for full-screen visuals and voice over.

Going back to the “talking head” effect, engaging learners in a physical classroom can be challenging. So how do you engage your learners when you aren’t there with them?

In general, we respond better to visual stimuli than others. For example, research shows that we remember about 80% of what we see versus 20% of what we read and 10% of what we hear.

80% is a significant number which is why visuals are vital when teaching English online.

Types of visuals you could use

Use videos instead of written instructions.

Replace an emailed written document with a quick explanatory video.

You may be able to find relevant videos rather than make your own. Some good places to look are:

  1. YouTube Learning:
  2. BBC Bitesize:
  3. Google Videos:
  4. National Geographic Education:
  5. History:


Using diagrams and other types of graphical structures are also helpful.

Here are some examples:

ZOOM and other virtual classrooms have a whiteboard facility. Use it.

If you know how to use Microsoft Powerpoint or similar presentation software, use it.

If you want to make simple videos in Microsoft Windows, use MovieMaker. It’s free, straightforward to use, and you can edit the video and the sound. If you get fancy, you can add a soundtrack, divider pages, fade in and out and use some of the other built-in neat visual effects.

Presentations are great visual tools for engaging students. Presentations are also good because of their flexibility. For example, you could use a single presentation for an entire lesson or use one or more presentations to highlight particular points in a class.

The use of visuals will initially be limited because of time and your knowledge of making them or finding them. However, the more you teach, the more extensive your library of visuals becomes.

Keep it short and simple, KISS

Task timing is vital in online learning. Too much talk can cause concentration to stray, making it harder for your learners to learn new information. We recommend that you keep things brief and engaging.

Use different visual elements in your lessons. Visuals can simplify complex areas that would usually need a long explanation. A picture paints a thousand words.

Group your lesson into short, easy to digest logical segments with natural transitions.

Stick to a clear and consistent lesson structure

Clarity and consistency are essential for keeping your learners focused.

Some ideas, with examples, for a lesson structure are as follows.

Lesson plan header

Aim Prepare students to provide basic personal details about themselves regarding their work
Objective Learners can say who they are, where they work, what they do at work, and what their company does.
Rationale The reason why this lesson is needed and is helpful to your learners
Subject Present tense of the verb “to be”
Topic Use “to be” to explain personal work details
Progress expectation By the end of the lesson, learners should be able to use the present tense of the verb “to be” to say their name, what they do, what their company does and the company’s location.
Knowledge assumed Any assumptions you are making about your learners level and ability
Material & equipment Teaching material and equipment you will use
Learning assessment How you will assess that you met your objective
Post lesson self-evaluation Notes to yourself about how the lesson went and what could be done to improve on what happened


Lesson plan activities aka tasks

Seq Duration Type of activity Teacher activity Student activity Resources
1 Activity length in minutes Brief description of the activity What you do in this activity What your learners do in this activity The resources you use in this activity


Evaluate, reflect and revise

When your lesson finishes, you should know what did and did not work as expected and see what you did not expect.

Continually evaluate your approach and the materials you used. The more you reflect, the better you will become, and your students will also benefit.

It would help if you asked your learners for their feedback. Your learners’ feedback gives you an idea of what was effective from their perspective.

Based on your analysis, you can then adjust your approach and material to build, grow and mature your performance for teaching English online.