Learning English online is becoming more popular with students, but what is their experience? Is their English level getting better? Are they enjoying the experience or are they finding it difficult to improve their language skills?
I have asked one of our students, Bader, a professional from Saudi Arabia, who has been learning English, to tell us about his own learning experience in our online English classroom.
Q: So, Bader, tell us about learning English online. Are you enjoying this experience?
A: I think the online one-to-one option is a very good way to improve your speaking and listening skills with a teacher. Depending on your level and your needs, you can talk about various subjects and interact as you would in a normal classroom.
Q: What about the other English skills, like reading and writing?
A: These skills are also possible thanks to the use of the Zoom whiteboard or the Google jamboard as the teacher can easily write new words and explain a grammar point by using different techniques.
The teacher can also give you the control of the computer, so you can write your ideas or your answers on the board too. I like the fact of having different options to choose from: I can either use a pen to write on my own notepad or type on the keyboard or simply take the computer pen and write my answers for the teacher to see and correct.
Q: Do you find your online course interactive enough?
A: Yes, definitely. I can ask questions whenever I need to. I get a spontaneous reply. I don't have to wait for a few hours or days to get an answer as on some e-learning platforms.
Q: What about your homework. How do you access it?
A: The teacher usually puts it on a platform called 'Google Classroom' where they can post all the documents or audio-visual material for the learner. If I have any technical problems accessing the material, I ask my teacher to send me the homework by email and the problem is instantly solved.
Q: Have you had any technical issues that have made your learning difficult?
A: At the beginning we had a couple of occasions where I or my teacher got suddenly cut off. With a little patience and time, we managed to reconnect after a couple of attempts. This has not been a major or a recurrent problem, though, and there are so many advantages of learning online.
Q: Can you name a few more than the ones you stated above?
A: Yes, for instance: 1. You don't have to be in the UK to learn English! With a 100 percent video conferencing version, you can be anywhere in the world. 2. You can access the learning material posted online by your teacher. 3. You can practise the four skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing. 4. You can easily listen to audio tracks or watch videos shared on the teacher's screen or your own screen before, during or after the class. 5. If you are in a group, you can get to know people from other nationalities or origins and practise your English with native and non-native speakers of English. 6. You broaden your mind by learning about British culture and other international cultures when students talk about their countries and share stories from around the world. You can also share things about your own culture, if you wish. 7. You can 'travel' far while remaining in the comfort of your own home.
Q: What advice would you give to other student to help them improve their English better and possibly faster?
A: With all the possibilities of accessing knowledge online, don't expect your teacher to be the only source of information and don't neglect reading and writing which are also important when learning a foreign language.
Try to read and practise your grammar and learn new vocabulary by accessing the wealth of material which is free on the internet. Ask your teacher to recommend some learning sites that you can access for free and work between classes remembering to always balance the four skills.
Q: Thank you very much Bader for sharing your own story as a language learner and good luck with your future learning experience, whether you are in the UK or some other part of the world!
A: My pleasure!