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Have you ever wondered what impresses Chinese parents when seeking an English language online teacher? When I started as an online English teacher, I certainly was curious. Therefore, I decided to research what attributes impress Chinese parents, so all online teachers have a point of reference whether you are a newbie or veteran to the virtual world of teaching English to Chinese students.

Teacher Characteristics

 What I have found is that parents all over the world want the same thing for their child. An enthusiastic, friendly, approachable, and confident teacher that will readily engage their child. For Chinese parents, they are additionally looking for the native English-speaking teacher to facilitate an English-language teaching environment.1 Interactive activities, games, and humor all help to establish an upbeat, enjoyable, and entertaining class for students.2  

Screen Shot 2019 11 21 At 5.56.37 Pm
This is the virtual classroom set-up of ALO7’s 2019 Online ESL Teacher of the Year. She uses a green screen in order to create a fun and engaging environment for her students.

Your Online ESL Classroom and Appearance

 Chinese culture is very particular about appearances. You should always dress and act professional in the classroom.3 When setting up your English-language teaching classroom, make sure it is in a quiet location in your home away from any distractions. Having beds, clothing, or dirty dishes observable is not something that would impress a Chinese parent. On the other hand, having a colorful and engaging background would be welcome. The use of props, realia, and dry erase boards transform the teaching spaces into real classrooms.4 Lighting is another important consideration when setting up your online classroom. Position your light high and slightly to one side to mimic the way the sun would hit you naturally. Ensure there are no shadows, and your face is clearly visible. An LED ring light is an excellent option for even lighting.5 Place your camera at shoulder height so students can easily view your TPR. Having a quality headset is essential too! A clear sound is vital for student comprehension.6

ESL Error Correction

In theory, there is no doubt that students are allowed to make errors while learning English.7 With many Chinese parents sitting out of the line of sight, it is important to recognize they are observing the class. To avoid discouraging students, we must be friendly and patient when correcting their errors. We must be mindful of our tone and body language. We must also rephrase the student’s words with the right information, by asking questions according to the student’s errors, etc.8

When should corrections be made? Do you make the correction immediately and risk interrupting the student’s conversation or performance, which could inhibit the student’s willingness to speak? Or, do you wait until the student finishes their sentence and/or train of thought? Ideally, students should learn from their mistakes. It is up to the teacher to make them aware of errors without undermining their confidence.9

ESL educator, Andrew Spacey, offers these five tips for oral correction in his article, “How to Correct Errors-EFL/ESL Teachers.”10

  1. Try not to use negative correction. For example, the use of No, You’re Wrong, or a silent shake of the head could cause resentment or increase shyness.
  2. Think about the ability of the student and match your correction accordingly.
  3. Don’t overdo it! If you constantly make corrections, the flow of the lesson will suffer and your student may be reluctant to speak and not want to participate.
  4. Aim for a balance between student interaction and correction. Students need to be kept active and enthusiastic, with corrections being made where appropriate.
  5. Finally, be prepared to adjust the way you correct in real-time moving forward. Make mental or physical notes to help you during or after the class has ended. 

Balancing the expectations of the Chinese parent and the needs of the student can be tricky. By addressing the errors in a timely and friendly manner with the student speaking appropriate English, the Chinese parent will be satisfied; and the student will develop the confidence needed toward becoming a fluent English speaker. 

 Creating a professional, engaging, and fun English-language environment will certainly impress your Chinese students’ parents and contribute to a mutually satisfying experience for the students, parents, and especially you, the English-language teacher. 

Citations for “English Language Teaching Online: How to Impress Chinese Parents”

1, 2 Schofield, A. “Why Isn’t My Child Fluent Already? How Chinese Parents and Schools See Foreign Teachers?” China Expat, 2015.

3 “How Do I Set up My VIPKID Classroom? Part 1: Lighting and Backgrounds.” Organizing Chaos 101. VIPKids, January 5, 2019.

4, 5 Meli. “Five Ways for HAWO Teachers to Impress Chinese Parents.” HAWO Homeroom, March 7, 2019.

6 “First Time Online Teaching: What Does a Beginner Need to Know to Start Teaching.” Temple University. Temple University, 2012.

7, 8 Jing, Huang, Hao Xiaodong, and Liu Yu. “Error Correction in Oral Classroom English Teaching.” English Language Teaching; Vol. 9., No. 12; 2016. Canadian Center of Science and Education, November 21, 2016. .

9, 10 Spacey, Andrew. “How to Correct Errors-EFL/ESL Teachers.” Owlcation. Owlcation, August 27, 2019.

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