Archive for May, 2012

Online English Language Teaching – Brief Overview:Part 1

The content of online English lessons varies greatly but the focus should always be on student speaking. Try to minimize the amount of time you talk  -Teacher talk time (TTT) by having students read directions for exercises aloud or by doing the same types of activities often so that less explanation is necessary. Try to provide both oral and written feedback for students so they can review certain corrections on their own. If students are able to record classes, that can be very beneficial for self study too.

How to Proceed


      General English

      If you are following a certain textbook or curriculum, you can structure your lessons around new topics and grammar points. Start lessons off with a bit of conversational English since this is important for students who will have the opportunity to speak English outside of class. You can elicit what students already know about the topic and go over specific vocabulary words. Explain any new words to students and ask them to make sentences with or provide synonyms for several to test their comprehension. You can also introduce any grammar or idioms at this time. Be sure to give students some example sentences and have them complete some practice activities. The majority of the lesson could then be spent having students respond to questions about the topic, practice a certain structure, or even role play a situation. Depending on how you teach your classes, you may share material in different ways and this will affect how you organize your lessons. Without any special software it can be challenging to highlight certain things and share materials but you can send students relevant files or links to websites before and during class. But with the relevant software such as Webex then the class can be much more visual with use of whiteboard and digital pen, with Webex the class is almost the same as a class you give face to face in a classroom.


  1. Business English classes can be the most challenging classes to teach because students are sometimes quite advanced English language learners. For these lessons, it is imperative to prepare very well and be able to research items when students ask challenging questions. It is fine to have a student move forward in the lesson while you look for a proper answer to the question and then discuss the answer later or include it in the written feedback. Other students in these classes may be surprisingly good at speaking about their jobs but have difficulty speaking about other topics. It is important to focus on business material while still giving these students the opportunity to practice basic skills. General English can be just as important in the business world as delivering clear and concise presentations especially if students are expected to answer questions afterwards. Another key topic in these courses is numbers. Students will need some practice reading a variety of numbers and speaking about currency. Giving presentations on flow charts and yearly figures and profit margins etc.So the grammar to cover in these classes focuses to a large degree on ‘linkers’ words and phrases that link one piece  of information to another.Business English classes need to cover a broad range of material to ensure that your students are confident in a variety of situations. What you include in your lessons will vary drastically from student to student.
  2. Conversation ClassesThese classes can be enjoyable because students often just want to practice speaking English with a native speaker or proficient English speaker. This creates a very relaxed teaching environment and allows you to get to know your students well. Be sure to talk about what topics they are interested in and what they want to get out of their lessons. Once you have a better understanding of why they are studying English, you will be able to create better individualized lesson plans. It is great to be flexible for these classes but if students would like more structure, you can focus lessons on specific topics and include some activities such as introducing new vocabulary, synonyms and idioms just like in general English classes.
  3. Discussion Lessons:For advanced students who are not taking business classes, discussion lessons may provide them with excellent reading, pronunciation, and speaking practice while covering a range of different topics. These lessons can focus on two or three paragraph articles. In the first lesson students can start by reading the article aloud. Be sure to discuss any new words or phrases and have students complete some short activities focusing on vocabulary and content. Use the second class to discuss the article by asking the student ten to twenty related questions. It would be best to cover actual content, personal experience and opinions, and some tangential topics in these discussions. Feel free to insert your own thoughts from time to time to lead the discussion and challenge students to defend their arguments.

So this was a brief overview of some aspects of online teaching. Good luck with both your online teaching and English language learning.                                                                                Simon                                                                                                                     Ok English


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English Language Reference Grammar: Part 1 -Conditionals (past reference)

We can use if to speculate about the likely effects of things being different in the past. We often use this type of conditional to talk about regrets and make accusations.

  • If we hadn’t invested so heavily in dotcoms, we’d have saved ourselves a fortune!

(but we invested heavily and we didn’t save a fortune)

  • You could have got an interview with that company if only you’d taken my advice.

(but you didn’t get an interview because you didn’t take my advice)

  • If our lawyers hadn’t spotted that mistake in that contract, we’d be in a real mess!

(but they spotted it and so we are not in a real mess)

  • If you’d told me about it sooner, I might have been able to do something.

(but you didn’t tell me sooner so I couldn’t do anything)

  • He might never have been able to start his own business if his father hadn’t helped him.

(but he started his own business because his father helped him)


  • If she’d taken her studies more seriously, she wouldn’t be flipping burgers at McDonald’s.

(but she didn’t take her studies seriously and now she’s working at McDonald’s)

Study the information above and answer the following questions.

a. What grammatical tense is used in the if-clause of all the examples?

b. What modal verbs are used in the main clause?

c. What tenses follow the modal verbs in the examples?

d.Which sentences directly refer to the effects of the past on the present ?

Now complete the conversation using the pairs of words below:

could+tried -  done+have  - hadn’t+wouldn’t -  have+known   -promised+would -  would+could

Two colleagues are having an argument.

A:  All I’m saying is, if you’d (a)__________ something about it sooner, we could_________ prevented this whole nightmare from happening.

B:  I know, I know. And I (b)___________ have if I _________have, but I couldn’t.

A:  You (c)________ have if you’d_______, you mean.

B:  Maybe if I hadn’t already (d)_________, I________ be able to put them all off.

A:  Well, anyway, it’s too ,late now. You know, I’d never (e)________asked you to organise these visits if I’d_______you weren’t clear about it.

B:  Well, if you (f)_________ said you wanted us to get involved in the local community more, I probably_________ have had the idea in the first place.

A:  I mean, what were you thinking of? You’ve organised factory tours three infant schools, an old people’s home and the Bulgarian Embassy all on the same morning!

* Which example above does not contain the past perfect?

Ok that’s enough for now. This was just a quick blog post to get you thinking, test your knowledge and help you practise.

More to follow in part 2 of this theme.

Good luck with your English language learning.


Ok English

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