As we finish up the test rounds and start offering the first official Fluentify Group Classes, we wanted to share a few tips and guidelines for any tutors who have volunteered to participate in this new program. Group classes is a feature that our students have been asking about for a while as it gives them the chance to participate in a more “real life” English situation with more than one person and with other non-native speakers. So far, students have been very happy with the classes and we are confident that they will be a great addition to our service.
So what are the Fluentify Group Classes?
- Classes are made up of 1 tutor and 2-4 students
- 45 min duration
- Technology is the same one used for the Speakers’ Corners
- Currently, we provide the resource for the class and you create your lesson plan accordingly
- For now, you need to fill out an individual feedback form for each student but you don’t need to include an activity or comments
Now that you know more from the logistical/ technical perspective, let’s talk about how to manage an online group class from the teaching perspective. These tips are a collection of what other tutors and I have learned from teaching our first Fluentify Group Classes.
1. You must prepare
Where we get to a certain point with our sessions that it’s easy to ‘wing it’, you definitely can’t do that with the classes. It’s crucial that you read through the resource before, analyze it, and figure out how you will use it to create discussion. Whether this includes planning some activities or simply making a list of conversation questions, you need to come prepared.
2. Be ready for anything
While students have access to the materials beforehand and they are encouraged to read them, it doesn’t always mean they will. Make sure to figure out if everyone is prepared at the beginning of the class, and if not, you can either read the article together (good for smaller classes, can do some pronunciation practice) or have the other students give a quick summary (great to encourage participation).
3. Technology is not perfect
As with our one-to-one sessions, there are sometimes connection issues. Don’t panic, they can be resolved just like we do normally. If someone’s video or audio drops out (or yours), have them refresh their page. They’ll disappear for a few seconds, but then come back and everything should be fine.
TIP: When first connecting to the class, everyone’s microphone is automatically OFF. Remember to turn yours on right away, and remind students that they can turn them on as well simply by clicking the microphone button. Sometimes after a refresh during the class, you might have to click the microphone button twice- always make sure your students can hear you before you start speaking.
4. Time management is key
One of the hardest things about the classes is doing everything you want to do in the 45-min period. This is tough because your plan will change based on how many students you have. While you will always want to do short introductions and read/summarize the resource, just make sure to keep track of time so that you can go through your activities and make sure that all students are getting a chance to speak.
5. Be Flexible
As Brittany said about her Fluentify class experience,
“Sometimes the dialogue in the group is really good so be ok with just letting the students go with it. They really want to speak, so if it’s good, don’t interrupt…they’ll enjoy and appreciate the class more.”
As in any teaching environment- it’s important to be flexible and adapt your plan to the students and flow of the class.
Over the next few weeks, we will be rolling out a regular schedule of Fluentify Classes. If anyone is interested in teaching these classes, feel free to reach out to us on Slack!