The Pros and Cons of Online Lessons

In these dire times, when suddenly a substantial part of our lives is happening online, there might be quite some people asking themselves if it’s worth continuing their language courses online. Let’s have a look at some popular myths and questions about online teaching!

Freedom from fixed locality

This is certainly a first pro because you are free to do the lesson almost everywhere where there is enough net coverage. Teacher and students are not bound to travel long ways to meet at one place each time. The downside can be finding an appropriate place for having your lesson. As some people have their own spacious private desk where they aren’t disturbed during the lesson, others have to create their spot where they can work online without distraction. While this can be a challenge, it’s worth investing in it because the quality of your teaching/learning time depends heavily on it. 

Online lessons are (not) worth the money

This is still a con in many heads, mostly because there are a lot of cheap offers online. Of course, you can argue that a school doesn’t need to invest in a decent location, if lessons are held online and that this already justifies lower prices. But apart from that, why exactly do we think online lessons should be cheaper? Maybe many feel cheated by the purely digital presence of the teacher. This sentiment usually teams with a general aversion to the use of new technological tools and the lesson might be experienced as less personal. There is certainly some truth in that a digital presence doesn’t equal a flesh and blood one, principally, when we think of our senses being fed by a two dimensional input in comparison to a three to four dimensional one. On the other hand, we are told that human beings are “social animals” and as such, we should be very talented adapting to new conditions and finding new ways of satisfying our social needs. In other words, students and teachers quickly become cracks in profiting equally from online teaching situations.

Do I get the same quality of teaching?

Bluntly said: Quality doesn’t really depend on the question if a lesson is held online or in a physical presence situation. The quality of teaching time depends on the teacher and also on the agreement that usually exists between the teacher and his/her students about the goal of their teaching time. This agreement is the base of mutual respect and a productive learning atmosphere. Once established, it doesn’t really matter if the lesson is held online or in person as far as qualitative teaching is concerned. The decisive thing is if teachers as well as students are willing to teach/learn online.

Is teaching complicated or enhanced by technology?

This is a trickier question as the answer depends very much on the technical surrounding and of course on the personal experience of the participants. Let’s look at it this way: If there are technical problems, they can originate from the gear or network or from missing experience in usage of the technical tools. So, yes, there can be problems with insufficient net coverage, slow internet or old computer gear. And until now, I would call the network problem the biggest con when speaking about online teaching! Missing personal experience with technical tools can slow down certain processes, but there is big learning potential! Teachers and students might face certain difficulties adapting to the online teaching situation, like knowing how to share documents, how to use the digital whiteboard or like finding a solution to do group work. With time though, we learn and discover new ways of doing things. And at times, the novelty of a teaching situation helps people in their language learning.