More and more students are looking into online classes as a means to learn a new language or a musical instrument from the comfort of their homes. But for someone who doesn't use video chat applications regularly or who is not used to speak in front of their camera, this can be a little intimidating at first. Here are some ways in which you can make it a smooth experience:
1. Agree on the communication channel before the class
Make sure you agree with the teacher regarding the communication channel that will be used for the class. Some teachers prefer to use Skype, others prefer services like Zoom or Duo. In some instances you might need to download an application to your computer before you can use the service. In some cases you might need to have an active account open. Another possibly is that you receive a link from the teacher containing the meeting room you are expected to join using a web browser. If this is your first time using that technology, you might want to agree with the teacher on a plan B in case something goes wrong. On Multi-Language Cafe, one such option can be the class' virtual classroom, which works directly on the browser and offers video chat and text messaging directly on the class page.
2. Use a high speed internet connection
Use an internet connection that is fast and works without interruptions. For the duration of the class, make sure the connection is not under heavy utilization by either your device or other devices in your home. Your communication with the teacher will be a lot smoother if there is no one around you watching movies online or downloading big files from the internet at the same time.
3. Use adequate equipment
Use a computer or laptop that performs well and won't give you trouble during the class. Although a cellphone can in theory be used to take online classes, this is highly discouraged since the screen is too small and it will be difficult for you to see multiple windows or multiple parts of the videoconferencing application simultaneously.
Using a headset will allow for better concentration, especially if you are in a place that is loud or busy. Make sure you test your headset in advance since some models, particularly the wireless type, can have issues remaining connected to the computer without glitches. Search the web for "Test my webcam" and "Test my microphone" for free testing services online.
If you use a virtual classroom directly on the website, know that a modern browser will be required (ideally a version that is not older than one or two years). Multi-Language Cafe's virtual classroom requires a recent version of Chrome, Firefox or Opera.
4. Set up your workspace
Choose a room in your house that is quiet and well lit. Communication with the teachers will be a lot better if they can hear you well and see your facial expressions. Ask your family members to be quiet during the session. Finally, please note that people and objects in the background will be visible to the teacher. Some teleconferencing services offer an option to blur the background or replace it with a static image. If the service you've chosen doesn't offer that functionality, make sure the space behind you is neutral and can be shown publicly without problems.
5. Eliminate distractions
Close all applications that will not be used during the class, especially if they are the type that sends notifications to the screen. If you are using a web browser for your lesson, close all the tabs that are not strictly necessary for your class. You might also want to turn off your cellphone temporarily to avoid receiving messages or calls during the class.
6. Prepare the support materials in advance
Ask the teacher if support materials can be sent to you in advance. This way you will be able to print them out or have them handy in your computer while the lesson is taking place. Likewise, if you have homework to submit to the teacher, send it ahead of time. This way you will wasting the time allowed for the class uploading and downloading documents. Multi-Language Cafe allows for documents to be sent and received in advance for each one of the courses you take.
That's it! You are all set and ready to take your first class. Relax! Online learning is not as difficult as you might think. Remember to come to the class prepared with the questions you want to ask the teacher or the subjects you would like to cover, and to have a notebook or note-taking application handy to take quick notes during the class.
If you are still looking for a great teacher online, check out our courses at Multi-Language Cafe, and happy learning!