Using Google apps to teach English online

They say that the secret to learning is repetition and this couldn’t be more true than when it comes to learning a second language.

To this end here’s how I am using Google apps to teach English online. I am specifically using Hangouts and Docs, in teaching English to my students.

Having been through the process of learning a second language a couple of times myself I can see the possible short-cuts which enable one to be picked up in the most efficient manner possible. In my opinion the most important step in learning a new language is speaking it, not just listening, not just reading and certainly not just writing.

Speaking and making mistakes is definitely the fastest way to learn. Incidentally it’s this fear of making mistakes that is given as the reason for why many adults learn slower than youngsters.

Google Hangouts

I communicate with most of my students on the internet, it used to be Skype but Hangouts from Google came along and proved to be a better option mainly due to the possibility of having several participants simultaneously and the ability to share one’s screen. (If you’ve ever had someone trying to explain what they’re doing on their computer by waving a webcam in the general direction of their screen you’ll love the screen sharing feature of Google Hangouts.)

Overall Hangouts is proving to be a very reliable communication method, the audiovisual quality is consistently high. By using video it’s very helpful for a student to actually see the pronunciation of words. I myself, when I come across an umlauted letter am instantly transported to watching my gurning German teacher, exaggeratedly pronouncing words with an Ö or Ä or an Ü.

So when we discover a new word or grammatical construct, I repeat it, they repeat it. It’s important that each new thing is repeated in a slightly different way; using a different tense for example or using another synonymous meaning. Once this is done we type it out.

Google Docs

If you’ve used Microsoft Word then getting along with Google Docs is a cinch. One of the most useful features of Google Docs is the ability to share a document, allowing myself and my student to simultaneously edit the same document. I always start with the student typing in the day and date into the open document and then we quickly go over what was covered in the last session. This is so much better than relying on memory.

So we had verbal repetition during the last session, we also wrote things down during the last session and now we’re reading it again, you get the idea of repetition being important.

Any problems can now easily be identified and further repetition made if necessary. Even if the coaching I’m giving is in person, it still means that both parties are sat down with an open copy of a Google Doc.

Once the last session has been dealt with it’s time to move onto fresh things.

Another great help is Wikipedia I usually finish up a session asking a student what they’re studying in other subjects or is there anything they’d particularly like to know more about and I get them to read a Wiki entry out. Some Wiki entries are a pain to read, especially the opening paragraphs, these I’ll often skip, moving on to a part of the Wiki that’s written in plainer English. Listening helps me identify what problems the student is still having and I can make a note to be covered next time.

I’m very particular about pronunciation and have developed several techniques; one that especially affects those in the Spanish speaking world are words beginning with an “s” pronounced as “ess” e.g. a person called Steve will be known as Ess-teeve here in Spain.

Summing Up

So there’s how I give English lessons, usually in sessions of 20 minutes intensive study, I’m having great success with this method. I learnt German in a Berlitz language school and I believe the method used was called the direct method it just involved speaking and getting out of the habit of internally translating everything in one’s mind, I think using available internet technology improves on this greatly.

If this blog has been automatically translated into your language and you’re interested check out this link and get in touch.

Don’t forget making mistakes is the best way to learn 🙂

What do think of my technique? And what do you think of the provocative point of view, which just happens to be mine, that you should never learn a language from someone who can only speak one language?

One thought on “Using Google apps to teach English online”

  1. Es grato encontrarse con webs que dan consejos tan necesarios para el aprendizaje de un segundo idioma mis hijos son alumnos de Andrew y estoy encantado, por que su nivel suben significativamente.
    Gracias Andy

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