Teach Online
At EF Teach Online, we provide the technology to connect teachers and students worldwide. Here you'll find tools, tips and teacher stories to power your online classes.

When online teaching can be better than face to face

When online teaching can be better than face to face

Have you ever heard that an online classroom is “…like a real classroom in many ways”? I have, and each time I wonder, “What should a real classroom offer?” From student comfort and timing to new ways of interacting and supporting students, there are plenty of ways online classrooms and teaching can take learning beyond what the face-to-face classroom can do.  

Here are a few of the top reasons why, to me, online is the way forward: 

The price and time are right 

The nearest regular group classes for me to learn German are a 25-minute train ride away or else I can do a class in the village where I live once every two weeks at 7-9pm. Neither of these really work for me but I can find online group or 1:1 classes at any hour of the day, take them wherever I am and fit back into my routine. It’s very easy to step up the number of classes I take in a quiet week or before an exam. As a student, I am in control of my learning and can balance it with the other pressures on my life. 

You won’t catch anything 

Students can learn with their mask off and be face to face with the teacher and other students from around the world. EF has offered additional language classes to students in lockdown and quarantine, making it one of the most productive things you can do, and helping you connect with others when other social contact is out of the question. 

You can capture everything 

Everything has already been digitized, so screenshots, cutting and pasting and recordings all become simple ways to support your learning. You can refer back to instructions, check the target language even when it’s wiped off the board and check the improvements in your pronunciation from the last lesson easily. 

All the scaffolding you want 

I am a big enthusiast of technology, but I am a messy learner – I do like to write in a notebook, refer to sticky notes from previous lessons, make annotations on my coursebook, refer to an online dictionary, a search engine and screenshots I made of the board in the last class. Whether a learner or teacher, all of this support material can be on my desk but not encumber my interaction with others. I can take a sneaky look at additional notes as and when I need, allowing me to learn how I like. 

You can be who you want to be 

One of the burdens of learning a new language is the ‘reduced personality’ you experience in not being able to express yourself with your usual range of subtlety, idiom and register. As your language develops you play many different roles, mimicking how a speaker responds in different situations. Patient, Salesperson, Hotelier and Tour Guide are all familiar roles for language students. In the online classroom it can be so much easier to take on a new identity just like in an online game, pretend to be whoever you want and immerse yourself in context. Even better, you can easily update and re-invent that persona whenever you want. 

Disabilities disappear 

Which of the students or teachers in the online class is in a wheelchair, hospital bed or has a physical disfigurement? The others in the class don’t need to know. Online learning can open doors for all of those who want to learn or teach without sharing that part of themselves. 

A global workplace 

In theory, a teacher from anywhere in the world can teach students anywhere else. Visa issues are reduced and while the spectre of nativism doesn’t entirely go away, there are greater opportunities for qualified and experienced teachers online regardless of the passport they hold. This also offers students the choice to be matched with a teacher they want. 

I feel like I am just getting warmed up – there is the clarity of visuals and audio, the speed and ease of setting up tasks and sharing material, the increased number of ways to provide feedback to an individual student and quite a lot more. 

So all in all, well thought out, planned and taught online teaching can be the best way to lean a language for many students. After all, EF have been teaching languages online for around 20 years opening doors for thousands of students around the world. 


Learn more about EF Teach Online here.