Skype classes are a practical and dynamic way of learning English, as most of you already know. But are you doing everything you can to unlock the full value of your class?
Here are 10 ways to make sure you get the ‘full thrust’ of your online classes:
1. Find the best place for class
Check your wifi signal (or use an ethernet cable), reserve a meeting room, find a quiet place – do whatever is necessary, but do it before you begin to make sure you can have class without interruptions.
2. Use headphones
Headphones provide the clearest sound with zero feedback, which helps you understand your teacher’s instructions, and helps them hear all your mistakes. Keep it simple and use your mobile phone headphones if you have to.
3. Leverage other digital tools
Sharing your screen and digital material, using Google Image Search (not Google Translate!) to check vocabulary, recording your classes to re-watch later, or customizing your flashcard apps with the help of your teacher are all great ways of maximizing the benefits of Skype.
4. Location, location, location
Research shows that using different locations (home, office, coffee shop) to give you different contexts increases your learning and helps your memory. Aside from that, it also prepares you to speak English in different spaces. You don’t have to do this every week, but take advantage of your online class and try a different place 1 time this month.
5. Turn off all distractions
Close all unnecessary tabs, programs, and notifications on your notebook and your phone to remove any distractions during class. If that doesn’t work, use a productivity app that will do it for you (Pomodoro, RescueTime, Freedom, e.g.).
6. Have class at the perfect time
You have the flexibility to have class from anywhere (home, work, hotel, travel) – why not have class, feel confident, and get prepared when it matters the most? Immediately before important meetings (in the same conference room!), on a voice-only call while you’re driving to see a client, or after a meeting so you can discuss the results and how to improve for the next one. The choice is yours.
7. Record your class
How many classes have you made the same mistake, again and again? Have you ever forgotten a word you learned in last week’s class? Can’t find an old lesson in your notes? You usually only have 1 hour for your teacher to correct you and to write down all the notes, but with class recordings, the class lives on indefinitely (just make sure to ask your teacher’s permission).
8. Use Google Docs
There isn’t a traditional whiteboard when you have class online, but there’s something even better: a digital whiteboard! Using a shared document (I use Google Docs, which works like Word), you and your teacher can add or highlight notes, corrections, useful links, and images. The best part of the digital whiteboard? Similar to recorded classes, it doesn’t get erased after class, so you can review it later or use search to find exactly what you need.
9. Skype video homework
Speaking is the most important thing you can do to practice and improve your English – so why don’t you speak for homework? Using Skype video messages, you can record your homework and self-evaluate before sending it to your teacher. Once you have a large historical archive, you can even use it to track your progress more clearly.
10. Take advantage of the extra time
Skype classes save us so much time because we avoid traffic, rush hour, parking, elevators, etc., but if you switch back to Portuguese when your class ends, you’re wasting a golden opportunity to use this extra time. Prepare before class, or review your notes after class, but be in a learning mindset at least 15 minutes before and/or after to multiply your results.
I can already hear some of you saying, “that’s A LOT of stuff, teacher!”
And you’re right, it is.
So I want you to do just 1 thing: Choose the one that you have the most problems with and use it before/during/after your next class.
Do it and let me know how it goes!