5 Creative Ideas for Boosting Results and Adding Fun in Your Online Language Lessons

Language tutors are a favourite resource in any successful learner’s arsenal. But it’s not always easy to stay excited about your language lessons, and to turn up regularly…If there’s no creativity in online lessons, no one gets to have the results or the fun that they should have. 

No problem! Check out the following 5 ideas for lessons in any language, and you’ll be on to a winner!

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The Story of Bilingual German-English Live Training

One of the worst moments I've ever experienced in German teaching was the time I tried to introduce a class of lunchtime learners to the Akkusativ case. Armed with whiteboard and sample sentences, I walked into the class, and I felt so ready and so excited to be teaching this (what I thought) awesome system in grammar.

"So when you have an object in your sentence, here's what happens..", I explained to them, with colour-coded underlining to illustrate. I thought I was doing well..until I saw everyone's face. In this classroom, at 12:45, in the middle of a busy workday, something clearly wasn't working.

That's when I realised that language teaching and language learning are not the same thing. And even worse, that what I was explaining didn't make sense to half of these people and they didn't care either.

Relevant Teaching

I came out of that class feeling absolutely defeated. I think I even cried, feeling like I'm failing myself and my students. And the experience always stuck with me and built part of the philosophy that is behind my actions now: The LEARNER is in charge of learning a language. And the learner, that's you right there reading these words.

When you're taking classes with me, you can get the solid and important explanations at your own pace in my online courses, but in live lessons I avoid explainers and I never lead with them.

Instead, the key to the Fluent Language method is relevant teaching.

For you as a German learner, that means experiencing language immersion at a good pace, making your own conclusions, and answering questions regularly. It's important to speak or write early, but it's also important that you're learning relevant and well.

Action: Bilingual Live Training

In my most recent teaching venture, I created a bilingual webinar - the first one I ever taught, and a successful one too.

Thank you so much if you were among the lovely people watching on Saturday. It was a challenge for me to teach in this way, but an incredibly rewarding experience to know that the viewers were following along, answering questions, and understanding the immersion concept.

Do you want to try it out? Catch up with the webinar today, and make sure you also download your worksheet and follow along. Click here and find all you need at the webinar live page.

Did you watch the webinar? Did you learn something new and use the worksheet?

Tell me how you enjoyed it in the comments below, and make sure you sign up for my newsletter to learn about the next one.

Episode 23: Teach (Yourself) a Language with Tammy Bjelland from Language in Bloom

It's episode 23 and I'm back with another lovely and inspiring interview. Tammy Bjelland sparkles with all the energy she brings to language learning and teaching. She teaches, trains, offers curriculum design and runs her own podcast, the Business of Language Podcast. Let her enthusiasm pull you along in this interview!

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You'll hear about:

  • What you're going to do with that language later
  • The many secret benefits of languages in your career
  • The 7 superhero skills of language learners: Empathy, Independence, Curiosity, Versatility, Creativity, Autonomy and Self-Discipline
  • How group learning can be a HUGE advantage for you
  • How to develop your custom curriculum
  • Tammy's truly impressive looking course Language Learning Formula

"You have to learn to teach yourself a language. It's a skill in itself"

Tips of the Week

Tammy was by far the most decisive guest I've ever had on this podcast. She went straight for tip number one as your Tip of the Week!

1) Practice your pronunciation with Soundcloud

2) Practice your pronunciation and get instant feedback by talking to Siri in a foreign language

3) Make a food log in a foreign language (thanks for the tip to Ron Gullekson

Tips and Links from this Podcast

Online Teaching Systems Check: Can you answer these 5 Questions?

Earlier today, I was watching my husband-to-be as he tried on his wedding suit. The very friendly tailor and I shared a little bit of smalltalk - where do you live, where are you from, that kind of stuff. And then he asked "and where will your future home together be?". I thought about it, and then I said that I would love to live in more countries and discover the world. He agreed that this sounds like a wonderful idea, and added:

"..but it's not that easy to just give up your job and go travelling, is it?"

At that moment, I realised once again what an advantage it is to be able to work online. No matter whether I teach German or I consult and help other teachers, my job is mobile. As long as there's internet and a working computer my students are able to join me. I also told him about the many amazing people I get to teach:

  • Someone who's run the Boston Marathon - three times!
  • Someone who's been to Willie Nelson's 4th of July Picnic - in the 70s!
  • A hot young entrepreneur admired by thousands
  • A guy who has a doctorate - in Statistics!

Online teaching is an enriching and wonderful addition to your life. It opens lots of doors. And for a language lover like you are if you read Fluent, it's even better. Travel plus income? Okay then!

online teaching systems check

Getting Started in Online Teaching

If you've read this far, I hope you're feeling an itch to get involved. I already shared my own online teaching story with you, and in today's post I have a few questions that will help you set up a profitable teaching brand a little bit quicker.

1) What is your subject and niche?

Do you speak English? Brilliant! Teaching that one will always be in demand. Most other major languages benefit from the same popularity. But beware. Why do I say you have to know your subject? Because it's not quite that easy. Languages and lessons come in many different guises and perspectives, and without a true personal brand you are standing in your own way.

The language teaching market is in a race to the bottom for unremarkable teachers. Unless you want to fight off students looking for $9/hr lessons, you have to build a clear identity. What's your teaching flavour? Who are you? What are you truly good at?

Niche is more than just "I teach English to people from Korea." It's about the exact situation your student is in, so think carefully about how you help. In the Savvy Brand Toolkit, teachers are guided through four stages of finding their strengths and ideal students before the advertising efforts can start. With this in your pocket, you'll never worry about getting lost in the crowd again.

2) How much will you charge?

Don't stand there going "oh..uh..20?" when the moment comes and someone wants to pay you to help them. This person deserves a professional response, so you owe it to yourself to be organised. Think about your pricing structure before you get going - what's your base rate, what is your best rate? What do you offer? The more confident you are in your prices and your services, the less time you waste saying "umm...".

3) Where will you find your students?

I have a secret for you: Finding online students is not that difficult if you share a genuine passion for what you do. But that does not mean you can just open your heart in your bedroom and wait for students to arrive. Instead, share your best work. Blog your heart out or create YouTube videos. After all, this is how Fluent got started!

The key to finding great students is to make it super easy for them to find you. You should build a little marketing strategy and think about how you want to talk to people. Flyering, websites, Twitter, writing, filming, Soundcloud? What's your style?

4) How will you structure your lessons?

Teaching is about so much more than just deciding which textbook page you're going to read out this week. As a 1-to-1 teacher, I pride myself on making sure that I learn more about how each of my students works best. I try to source real language content they will find relevant, and I coach them through the difficult parts. For me, the lesson structure is always something we create together. But what will you choose? Group coaching, Q&As, demonstrations, drills? It's all part of your personal brand and your style. This is why I created the Five Step Booking Process you can learn about in my new video course over on Udemy.

5) What kind of equipment have you got?

Before teaching online, know your software. Make sure your internet is fast. Decide if you do video. Decide if you use textbooks. Decide if you use headphones. Work out each detail and run a test, and continue with the methods that are most comfortable for you and for your student. For aspiring video course leaders, the software question may be even more important as you delve into online business, membership sites and plugins. Just like with pricing, allow yourself a little time to work it all out before you rush to the gold.

Resources to help you answer these questions

If you have questions about software, business practices and lesson structure, don't hesitate to join my brand new video course for a 75% discount using the code FLUENT. If you want to develop a brilliant personal brand, try my Savvy Brand Toolkit, a self-paced course taking you through step-by-step through the process of creating a true teacher brand.

And if you want to ask me which one you should choose, I'm happy to help and guide you. Send me a message and I will be happy to guide you further. Until then, good luck out there in the online teaching world!

Podcast Episode 15: From marrying a soldier to writing a German language blog, with Angelika Davey

My guest this month is Angelika Davey, owner of the blog angelikasgerman.co.uk. Angelika has been teaching German independently for many years.

angelika davey

Listen to our interview to find out more about

  • Keeping your mind agile, and whether it really matters to anyone under 50

  • The ultimate showdown: Age vs. Attitude! Which one makes you a better learner?

  • Why learning German is your best choice for business

  • What it’s like to date someone from a different country

  • A new and innovative approach that makes even the best private teacher affordable and accessible to yo

Article of the Week

Multilingual Families: Even our Dog uses 3 Languages

Tips of the Week

Angelika chose Tip 1 as her Tip of the Week.

Tip 1: Read cereal packets, clothing labels and anything you can get (see Language Surfer blog)

Tip 2: Discover foreign culture at home

Tip 3: Use Eurovision to learn your Target Language (see Koko the Polyglot)

Tips and Links from this Podcast

Don't forget to take advantage of the special $10 German Course offer!

If I’m selling to you, then I speak your language. If you’re buying from me, dann müssen Sie Deutsch sprechen.
— Willy Brand

Links to Amazon and Udemy are affiliate links so they cost you nothing more but they support Fluent Language and this podcast. Thanks for your clicks. If you are feeling able to give $1 to keep the podcast and the blog going strong, please head over to Patreon and become a supporter!

 

How I came to Online Teaching: A TEFL-Free Story

Many people who find me and my work through Fluent often assume that I took the classic route of learning how to teach online after studying for a TEFL exam, but that's not actually true. In fact, I never set out to be an entrepreneur at all. In today's blog post, I want to share this awesome interview with me and Gabby Wallace from Laptoplanguageteacher.com.

It's an in-depth look at how I started out in language teaching, and how my independent streak actually helped me discover my own niche in this market. As you can see, I'm just as scared as you are when it comes to that niche challenge!

Here are the top 4 Lessons you can Learn from this Video

  1. If you work online, collaborating with your colleagues is the door to success
  2. When you blog, you start sharing your views and standing out in a wholly new way. It is one of the most fun experiences on the internet. If you want to learn more about how to start a language blog, check out Fluent's Quick'n'Easy Guide to Language Blogging.
  3. Your prices can send a powerful message to new students. I have spoken to so many language students who felt that they actually
  4. Bonus Lesson: That's a crazy hairband.

And of course, I also mentioned various ways of working with me in the video. The 50 Calls project is now finished, yes I actually spoke to 50 amazing people. It was so much fun!

The feedback I got from them helped me create the course Compass, which is now available to online teachers right here on Fluent as the (renamed) Savvy Brand Toolkit. I'd love for you to check it out, and don't forget to sign up for my newsletter so that I can send you discount codes and promotions when I run them.

Event Coming Up

Gabby and I are running a joint Facebook event on 7 May. It's called the Online Teaching Show and designed to help online teachers get the word out. All for free, so please come and join us by registering here on Facebook.

Language Linkfest: March 2015

I'm so excited about springtime this year. It kicked off a lot of productivity here at camp Fluent, with the addition of my first product for online teachers AND a Udemy course full of online teaching tricks. So in other words, Fluent is truly expanding to serve both you language learners and the language teachers right now. My own experience as a 1-to-1 language tutor over the past few years has taught me lots about technology, marketing styles and how to support learners. I'm excited to share it with you.

language links

Best of Fluent

The Creative Language Learning Podcast is going from strength to strength right now. I've just secured a bit of support from the first sponsor. So with their help and with yours (did you know I'm on Patreon?), I can continue working on bringing you better quality and more shows.

New on the Fluent blog:

And this was my most discussed article in March:

Best Language Learning Articles around the Web

That's it for Language Linkfest in March 2015, I hope you have all had a wonderful and successful month no matter where you are, and that you enjoy taking a little bit of time to click your way through what's on offer above.

Thanks for reading this article on Fluent, the Language Learning Blog. If you are feeling stuck right now, why not subscribe to Fluent and check out our language book shop.