Author: Chris S. Published on: Jan. 23, 2019 Expected Reading Time: 7 mins
So, today's the big day: you're a newly-qualified ESL teacher and you're eager to get started on engaging and inspiring students as you travel together on a journey of education and discovery.
Having registered to teach English as a second language online, you connect with your first few students and that's when it hits you:
The realization that this job might be a little more challenging than you first thought. You've got lessons to plan, activities and resources to get hold of, not to mention all those pesky behind-the-scenes tasks which, though they don't have much impact on students' learning, are an integral part of your ESOL business.
Ready for the good news?
Things don't have to be quite as difficult as they first seem.
One of the many wonderful benefits of modern technology is that it offers us countless tools designed to make our lives as teachers that much easier.
So, if you're new to the world of teaching English online, be sure to equip yourself with these ten essential tools and resources that are sure to help you -and your students- to succeed.
1: ESL Video
Using YouTube videos as source material for quizzes, listening comprehension exercises and other activities have become increasingly popular in the ESL world over the last few years. While you may be able to find the occasional video-based exercise on the usual ESL resource sites, you'll benefit greatly from adding ESLVideo.com to your teacher's toolbox.
The site allows you to search for and use scores of quizzes based on popular YouTube videos, all helpfully categorized according to their ability level.
You could, for example, begin with simple videos about past and present tense for beginners, moving through low intermediate, intermediate, high intermediate and advanced quizzes as your students' learning improves.
The best part?
You can use ESL Video to create your own quizzes. So, if you find a YouTube video out there that you think would fit perfectly with one of your upcoming lessons, you can log on and use the online quiz builder in just a couple of minutes.
From pets, places and use of past tense to games, grandparents, and grammar, there's barely a subject you can think of that somebody hasn't created an ESL worksheet for.
Yet if none of those quite cut it, or if you want to create something extra special for your students, look no further than Wizer.
Sign up for free, and Wizer will allow you to create and share fantastic, highly-engaging worksheets that students will love. Using no more technical ability than using a mouse, you can create dynamic activities using pictures, text, and even audio. You can save them to your account, send them to your students, and even make use of the interactive worksheets used by other students.
Wizer also offers a paid plan for $39 per year which allows you to add video content to your worksheets along with accessing several additional features.
Hailed as one of the best tools for educators to come along in the last several years, Remind is a powerful, easy-to-use app designed to transform the way teachers communicate with students, parents, and colleagues.
Though predominantly aimed at schools and larger educational districts, Remind can still be a valuable tool for helping you to keep in touch with your students and, where appropriate, their parents.
Safe and secure, with sensitive student data fully encrypted, Remind offers a free plan which includes basic messaging and text messaging with attachments.
Together, the combination of enhanced data security and quick-and-simple instant messaging makes it more effective than email and safer than basic text messaging to send out announcements and reminders and to receive messages from students.
When you're up late planning resources, writing emails or working on marketing for your ESL teaching business, it can be easy to overlook the odd typo or misplaced punctuation mark.
Sure, it might not be the end of the world, but it doesn't exactly instill your students with the greatest of confidence when they're trusting you to teach them all about spelling and grammar.
Luckily, Grammarly is here to help.
Available as a browser extension for Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Microsoft Edge, as well as a stand-alone website, Grammarly is a handy little tool which checks you're writing as you go along. Not only does it help you correct spelling and grammar errors, but it also offers useful suggestions about sentence structure and word choice.
Grammarly is free to use, though does offer a paid plan with additional features such as a plagiarism checker and advanced grammar checking options.
You've been working with your students on a particular theme and found that there's just so much content out there that you can use. From videos and worksheets to social media posts, articles and more, it's all helping you to engage your students but it's also, well, it's also all over the place.
Enter Wakelet, the online content curation tool that is as popular with ESL teachers as it is with writers, storytellers, and artists.
Free to use, you'll find it invaluable for organizing lesson materials, setting digital assignments and helping students to build portfolios of their work.
In an age where digital storytelling is becoming key to successful education, Wakelet is one tool no online English teacher should be without.
Sure, you could test your students' knowledge and see how far they've progressed with another run-of-the-mill worksheet, but why do that when you help them to actually enjoy the process with a fun interactive quiz?
Quizziz is the very tool for doing just that, allowing you to pick pre-made quizzes from other teachers or design your own based around the subject you've been learning.
You can use it to start a live "game" in class, or because it's available for all devices (including smartphones and tablets), you can allow students to work through quizzes at their own pace.
The best part?
Quizziz does all the grading for you and sends you clear, easy-to-follow reports that show you what your students already know, what they might need more help with, and where you can take them next.
7: TEFL Tunes
We've all been there:
We hear a song on the radio or even playing in the background when we're out shopping, and before we know it, that catchy little ditty gets stuck in our heads for days.
There's something about music that ensures its always firmly planted in our memories, so what better way to ensure students memorize what they've learned in their English lessons?
TEFL Tunes offers a wide variety of complete ESL lesson plans based on popular songs by everyone from The Beatles to Beyonce.
The website has a fully searchable database of songs arranged by ability (from beginner to advanced), theme (everything from business to travel) or task (learning about past or present tense, use of certain verbs and more) as well as by artist.
Many of the song-based lessons are free, though some are only available to paid subscribers.
Here's another useful tool to improve the way you use video in your online English lessons.
Free to use for students and teachers alike, EdPuzzle helps you annotate videos with questions, add voice clips and check your students' understanding of the content.
It's a helpful way to ensure that learners aren't simply using video resources as a chance to switch off, but are actively engaging in the material.
You can use EdPuzzle with existing videos from YouTube, Khan Academy, and Crash Course, as well as uploading your own content.
9: Google Calendar
From helping your students learn to helping you plan your schedule, Google Calendar is an invaluable tool for any online teacher.
Free and very easy to use, starting a Google calendar requires nothing more than a Google account which takes seconds to set-up if you don't already have one.
With that done, you can use it to keep track of which students you're seeing when, block-out time for lesson planning, and even send your calendar to new students so that they can book their own lessons at a time that's convenient for them.
10: Using English
Last but by no means least, we come to Using English, an extensive collection of lesson plans, resources, reference materials and articles on all aspects of ESL learning.
An essential addition to your bookmarks, the site helpfully arranges lesson plans according to ability and subject matter and offers an ever-growing list of quizzes, worksheets, and other interactive tools.
That's before we even mention the ever-active forums and Editor's blog where you can keep up-to-date with the latest developments in ESL teaching and interact with other teachers.
What tools do you find invaluable for helping you to teach English online? Did we miss out any of your favorites here? Let us know and share your most essential tools with other teachers in the comments below.