Lessons Learned while Teaching English on-line

Can I have a Witness?!*

What makes this blog different (=hopefully more interesting, entertaining, and informative) than other English language learning sites is that in addition to sharing my considerable experience as an on-line teacher, I will include my Christian perspective and break-down* church lingo* (like in this section header*).

What the *?  

An asterisk will identify expressions that may be unfamiliar to English language learners and/or people unfamiliar with some “Christian” expressions . The definitions  for these words and phrases can be found by following the asterisk, or as I cleverly described it, by Following the Star!* (This is a “play on words” because it is reference to the Wise Men who followed the star to find the infant Jesus).


“Watch and Learn, People! Watch and Learn!”

The title of this paragraph is an expression used by my six year old grandson recently.  As he was pretending to be a police officer arresting a “bad guy” he shouted, “Watch and learn, people! Watch and learn!” Meaning we should watch him as he showed us how it was done. This page contains links to each of the posts on My Virtual English.  Hopefully, you can watch and learn from my successes as well as my failures!  Happy learning, Michele

      My Virtual English Posts

Click on the titles to read the articles

FEATURED VIDEO  Double Bubble Train Your Face   It’s a workout for your face!  Learn how to blow a double bubble and strengthen your face and tongue to improve your ability to make the sounds of English.

A, An, or The?…THAT is the Question  Michele MVE 02 Icon 80 Percent JPEG FEATURED VIDEO Lessons learned. For learning and teaching how to use a, an, or the (called articles in grammar). This article includes The Butterfly Story.

Are You Coming or Going? Lessons learned using coming versus going.

Body Language: Expressions Speak Louder Than Words  Lessons on body language, facial expressions, gestures, and cultural and gender differences in communication.

Comfort Food, Words, and Women These are lessons on expressions using  the word comfort.

Cursing: Using inappropriate words appropriately! Is it okay to swear?  This article will help you decide when and if it’s appropriate. This is a lesson learned regarding the importance of honest feedback.

Did I Forget to Mention…Ellipsis? This article explains ellipsis. What ellipsis is, how ellipsis is used and how understanding ellipsis will improve your English skills.

Especially Strange! These are lessons learned about using the word especially in English and suggests that there may be confusion between especially and specifically.

Frickin’ Fricatives  Lessons explaining fricatives and the importance of developing an English persona to make fricative sounds with confidence and power.

Just Peachy! A love story  Expressions using peach and peachy,  as well as my love story and my firsthand experience of how God takes us from the pits to a life that is peachy.

Let Me Qualify That! (Qualifying Statements) This lesson explains the phrase, “Let me qualify that statement” and explains how to qualify statements in a variety of ways.

Look! Watch out!  These are lessons about the difference between look, watch, and see. This article explains when to use each of these words.

Not Scary This Halloween post examining word pairs like scared/scary, frightened/frightening, and loved/loving is informative, not scary!

Rest Assured I’ll Reassure You  These are lessons about using assured versus reassured and the expressions, “Rest assured,” and “Let me assure you,” as well as a discussion about our relationship with God.

Say it isn’t So! This article introduces expressions using such and so, and explains how and when to use them.

Shoot! Expressions and uses of shoot, and shot

Talking Naturally about Nature  These are lessons learned while teaching about nature. It explains how to talk about nature and natural things naturally.  This article feature several photographs by the author paired with quotes about nature.

Take Your Lunch and Eat it Too!  We say eat lunch or dinner not take lunch or dinner. This article includes a slide show about the idiom, “have your cake and eat it too.”

The Art of Small Talk  Tips for making small talk and asking engaging questions.

The Challenge of Using Challenging  A lesson on how to use challenge, challenging, and challenged.

The Word? Word! How English and Christianity are related and what The Word, the word, words, and Word! all mean.

This is Confusing. Isn’t it? An explanation of how to use and answer tag questions, which are statements followed by a question.

To and Fro with To, For and From Michele MVE 02 Icon 80 Percent JPEG FEATURED VIDEO Lessons learned. For learning and teaching the differences and uses of to, for and from. Includes an original poem.

Tough Topics: Aging and Death First in the Tough Topics series.  Aging and Death is about Western cultural ideals and explains how to talk about aging and death.

We’ve Got to Stop Meeting Like This! These are lessons learned while talking about meeting people (for the first time and beyond) and formal meetings.

All content (unless otherwise identified) contained in this blog 
© 2015 Michele W. Snider. Do not re-post without permission. 
Header art by Guy Robert Wallace. This blog is powered by WordPress.

5 thoughts on “Lessons Learned while Teaching English on-line

  1. Hello Michelle,

    I came across your Blog while looking into Skimatalk. Your name pops up as the the best teacher in the rankings. Congratulations!

    I tried to teach on Skimatalk for a while but never managed to get much traction on the platform. I’m now teaching somewhere else that I won’t mention here, but they have a scheduling team that have made getting new students easier.

    I feel like I should rise up to the challenge again and I was wondering if you had a path to success that I may follow. It would be very generous of you if you could share some insights.

    Peace and Blessings,

    1. Hello Alex!
      I am happy to share my “pathway to success” on SkimaTalk. First of all, the number one consideration is sustainability. When I first began teaching I was working late into the night in order to match the active hours of most SkimaTalk students. But I quickly realized that I wasn’t able to commit to working until 9pm or later each day. So, I put up a schedule that I could sustain. I work the same 3 hours every morning and the same 2 1/2 hours every afternoon Monday through Saturday (Sunday is my day off). That works for me and I can plan and do other things outside of my “class time.”

      The second tip relates to the first: Get on the “featured teacher page” and stay there! How do you do that? I’m pretty sure their algorithm looks at three criteria: 1. your rating by students (you have to be at four stars or above), 2. your availability, and 3. your dependability (zero no-shows and very few cancellations). SkimaTalk now has a feature which allows you to put your availability up for two months. Take advantage of this and add your future availability daily in order to claim a spot on the front page.

      The other things I do are: 1. Take the job seriously. Dress for success! People will respond better and feel like they are getting a better service from you when you look and act professionally., 2. Make it memorable! I start smiling even before the student answers my call. The first image they have of me is positive and inviting and it sets a great tone for the session., 3. Keep individual notes for each student. I keep all my notes along with the student’s Skype ID and SkimaTalk student profile info. Most of my students are regulars- I establish a rapport with them immediately and can remember our conversations and important details about them by keeping my notes in front of me during our session.

      Lastly, offer a good value. Before I became a popular teacher, I would sometimes have what I called a “fire sale!” For example in honor of the Fourth of July I offered all my classes at just $4. This increased my experience level and boosted the number of sessions I was doing very quickly! – Some SkimaTalk students value quantity over quality however- so when you raise your rate they will book other teachers offering bargain prices. Offering a good value means going above and beyond too. I have accumulated a wealth of resources by looking for material to help my students. When I first started teaching sometimes the time to write my feedback took as long as (or longer than) the session itself -because I was looking up material to send them or to supplement future sessions. Currently, (remember my sustainability rule) I set a timer and spend no more than 10 minutes per assessment.

      Good luck to you! If you decide to give SkimaTalk another go, please follow me! As a follower you can see the messages I send every once in awhile. I share interesting English facts and tips (another way of adding value).

      I hope that helps! Thank you for your excellent question!, Michele

  2. (left the same message on a site called “elt-reourceful”, where I found a link to your own)

    One of the greatest problem in comprehension / expression for students of a foreign language is that they are often taught to speak as the grammar they learn and thus expect that native speakers will do the same.

    My spoken French (and my understanding of that language) only improved (or sounded more natural) after I learned the actual structures used when native speakers talk. They can be very different from the grammar I learned but, come to think of it, why should they not be ? It is the same in English and I suppose in any other language.

    So I should think language schools should put more emphasis on conversational language patterns to get the students to actually use the language they are being taught

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