The Lingo Ledger

A Teacher's Perspective on Online Teaching

Lingo Live teacher Dina Spencer talks about her experience as a Lingo Live teacher!

Dina Spencer

When I first heard about Lingo Live, it sounded like a nice idea, but I was too busy to think about it.  Upon further consideration, I realized what a great opportunity it really was.  I could work from home and talk to people from all over the world from my living room! I had spent the last two years living and teaching in Spain, where many of my students were adults who want to improve their conversation.  Being someone who genuinely loves good conversation, this job is right up my alley.  So I decided to come on board and teach online classes via videoconference.

As I built up my base of regular students at Lingo Live, I found myself looking forward to talking to them and wondering how they were doing.  Through our sessions I learned about their families, their likes and dislikes, their opinions about the world, and little random facts. I've learned to ask better questions, making me a better student at life. For example, I’ve learned about gender roles in Belarus, political changes in Brazil, safety in Shanghai, and holidays in Austria. The world comes to my house through video chat nearly every day and I find the chance to learn something new.

Having regular students is great because I can continually work with them on their most difficult grammatical issues, monitor their progress and tie in previous class anecdotes to improve grammar.  Alex's pronunciation of "th" has really improved, Iris is remembering to use the past tense and correcting herself, Pablo is using the right prepositions nearly every single time, and Zi is becoming a confident conversation machine. I see all of them improving their fluency over time. I love it when one of my students tells me that they used a technique that we worked on in class in the real world and it made them feel more confident. Recently I’ve implemented task-based learning, which involves role-playing various work scenarios that a student may encounter. Through task-based lessons and evaluation, we can easily see what areas need to be improved and why. My student Zi had some difficulty making small talk and appropriate transitions. He felt that he couldn’t access vocabulary quickly enough to interject in conversations, a very common complaint in language learners. Through our task-based lessons, his confidence in having casual conversations has increased; in fact, when I asked his opinion about a topic in our most recent lesson, he completely surprised me with his eloquent transitions and fluency!

If I could recommend one thing to English language learners, it would be to engage in conversation as much as you can. I have seen the benefits firsthand of how sharing your life through conversation can enhance your language skills and fluency. Being able to get to know my students and their life stories has helped build relationships, strengthen speaking abilities, and improve both their progress and my teaching.  I'm grateful for the opportunity to work with such brilliant people!