Virtual Class:11 Skills Needed for Teachers to Handle International Students

Virtual Class:11 Skills Needed for Teachers to Handle International Students

  • 13/11/2021

Virtual Class: 11 Skills Needed for Teachers to Handle International Students


The internet has made it easier than ever to connect with people all over the world. As a teacher, you may be taking online classes for international students often nowadays. It is essential to have specific skills to manage your online classroom effectively and successfully.


Teaching online for international students is very different from teaching in traditional classrooms. It requires special skills and preparation. So, what skills do teachers need to handle an online class for international students? 


If you are a teacher, chances are you have thought about teaching an online class at some point. With the rapid growth of international students and the increasing popularity of online courses, it is no wonder that more teachers are considering this type of coursework. But what skills do teachers need to teach at an online class, especially to study overseas students? What should they prepare for before they start teaching a course online? Let us help you outline 11 essential skills necessary for teachers who want to conduct an online class for international students.


1. Good Communication Skills: And this includes both written and spoken language.


Excellent written communication skills in English- since you will not speak your primary language during your lectures, you must have excellent writing and grammar abilities in English to convey concepts clearly and concisely. It would be best if you took care of time during classes to digest all the information given.


Many international students do not speak English well enough to understand lectures or to express themselves in writing. If you are teaching international students online, make sure that your class has an audio and visual presentation (e.g., PowerPoint slides) and text support (e.g., subtitles). That will help those international students who watch the entire presentation without engaging in a discussion because they cannot understand it.


Have excellent communication skills- it is vital to communicate effectively with your students and anyone else involved in the course, such as TAs or other professors. A phone and video connection are crucial for an online class so that you can interact and connect with your students on a personal level.


Excellent presentation skills- since you will most likely not have an auditorium or lecture hall to present in, it is even more crucial to have excellent presentation skills. You will need to speak with confidence and clarity and make eye contact and connect with your audience. Having a backup plan is essential in case of poor internet connection or equipment failure.


2. Cultural Awareness:

We all have cultural beliefs and values that influence our behavior’s, decisions, and social interactions with others. We all work within the boundaries of assumptions of good, correct, typical, expected behaviour in society. But these vary by culture, so it is not appropriate to assume that your students act or think like you. For example, some cultures have a "saving face" value – to save the honour and reputation of others. So, being critical or pointing out errors in front of others may be embarrassing for them. In another culture, saving face may mean getting angry instead of admitting a mistake. In many societies, people come first, while it's money first, then people in some other.


Be open-minded and adapt quickly- in an online environment, students can come from all kinds of backgrounds. You must be open-minded and flexible to accommodate the needs of your students.



3. Patience:

You will need to be patient while teaching international students online. Because, unlike your local students who may understand what you're saying at once, non-native speakers require extra work plus different types of feedback and repetition to help them comprehend concepts and learn how to use a new language.


Many online class students are busy with their work and family responsibilities, but they want to further their education. So, try helping them overcome barriers by being patient with them when they miss class or do not turn in assignments on time. Keep reminding them of the benefits of an online course for international students – saving time and money to get a degree.



4. Flexibility:

Teaching online has to meet many challenges that you have less control over the class, especially if your students are from different cultures and countries. You can write all you want in your syllabus, but this does not mean that they will take it seriously or follow it. You may also need to change your plan for the class as you go along. That is one of the many reasons why teaching online for international students is not easy.


Be a self-starter and able to work independently- your students are not physically in the same place as you, which requires them to be self-motivated and independent. For this system to run efficiently, you should direct yourself without having any day-to-day guidance from other people.


5. Time Management:

Creating and managing an online course can take more time and effort, especially in developing materials that will appeal to international students with various levels of language skills and learning styles. You need to create many materials for different learners and distribute them on other media (e.g., audio, video, text). You also have to manage online discussions and various contributions from students and be available to answer questions or clarify concepts.


Be able to work under pressure- since you will be working with multiple students at once, it is essential to stay organized and keep track of everyone's progress. You can do this by setting deadlines for assignments and having well planned out lectures. Time management skills are critical to online teaching!


6. Understanding Learning Styles:

While we may not know what styles exist across cultures, it is essential to be aware that different learners learn in different ways. For example, some students are auditory learners who need to hear things rather than read them or see them. Others take in information best when they can work with their hands by writing on the board or working out problems on paper. Rarely do you find a student who learns best by doing it all – reading, listening and writing.


Be able to motivate students- part of your job is to help international students avoid being discouraged by complex material or language barriers. Doing this would help by making yourself easily accessible, either through email or online chat/discussion boards. You must be willing to take the time needed to answer any students' questions.


Be confident and concise- while your primary role is to teach, you also need to mentor students and help them when they require your assistance. Make sure you know how to speak in public and can answer questions confidently! If you cannot convey yourself well over the internet, this may not be the job for you.


7. Strong Computer Skills:


Be technologically savvy- to teach online, and you should use the latest technological advances necessary for your course.

While your students may have good computer skills, teaching online for international students requires the instructor to be more technically proficient than those who teach in a traditional classroom setting. You should know how to create a website where you post all the materials for the class, set up discussion boards and chat rooms, upload audio or video files, add audio clips to text files, etc.



8. Interpersonal Skills:

In a traditional classroom, you can see the facial expressions of your students and use this feedback to understand how they're doing in the class. You can quickly start discussions with them or ask pertinent questions before they have a chance to disengage. The only feedback you get in an online course is from what you read on their written work or discussions. So it takes extra effort to establish rapport and encourage deeper student thinking and learning.


Don't teach at a slow pace- while some people like to go over concepts slowly when trying to convey them, this can be highly frustrating to international students who are eager to learn new things. Try to keep your lectures regularly, especially when you are explaining concepts that the students already understand.


9. Good Tutor


Have teaching experience- while this is not necessarily required to teach online, having teaching experience will help you become comfortable with your responsibilities as an online instructor. Since most people who work for international companies won't speak your language fluently, it is crucial to establish trust and rapport before the class begins.


As a teacher of English as a second language (ESL), you need to have a good background in language teaching. If you are not, it may be helpful for you to become certified by taking an ESL course or getting your degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). That way, you learn the best practices in teaching ESL students and give them the best opportunities for communicative language learning.


Be good at organizing and planning. Since every lesson is planned out beforehand through discussion with your students, you can keep track of the information you give the students, including having good time management skills, problem-solving, and organization skills.