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8 Super Useful Tips in Teaching Beginner ESL Lessons Online & It is Not What You Think

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First, beginner ESL lessons can be tricky for “Solo” teachers when teaching them online. Mistakes happen so don’t beat yourself up about it and focus more on the student, not the material. I know you want to make a great first impression with the parents and the student. I’m a little stiff for the first few lessons so stay loose and have fun.


Thus, focus on basic things you want to do with your student in the first 10 lessons. I will show you an example of these things with my real private student named Menar.

8 Tips For Your First 10 Beginner ESL lessons


1# Use of the Platform

2# Bring 2 Favorite Things to Class

3# Complete Sentences

4# Talk Time

5# Ask Student Questions

6# Encourage the Student to Ask Questions

7# Have Fun & Joke Around

8# Homework


Please include attribution to with this graphic.

Beginner ESL Lessons

1#Use of the Platform – Get the student comfortable with the platform like using the mouse and how to change colors. Use a platform where the student and teacher can change colors. Colors catch the students’ eye and grab their attention. Usually, this will help keep the students focus on the screen more.


Furthermore, show your students how to use stamps like hearts, stars, and arrows. Also, my students like the drawing feature so they can use circles to circle the words when reading. This will keep your students engaged in the lesson.


I have tried many platforms for teaching ESL online to kids but I found that Zoom works best for my students and it is free to use. Zoom training is great and it is “Live Training”.


Best Online Tutoring Software (Platforms) To Use


1# Zoom

2# Hypersay

3# BrainCert

4# WizIQ

5# TutorRoom

6# LessonSpace

2# Bring 2 Favorite Things to Class – The teacher and the student should have 2 toys they bring to class. This helps to get to know the student. When I enter the classroom I say hi to the student by waving my 2 stuffed animals.


Furthermore, I encourage my students to bring stuffed toys to class. This helps to start a conversation with the student about colors, animals, or what they do with their toy.


Also, try to use toys throughout your lesson to reinforce sentences or grammar structure. It really helps students to remember the material plus it is fun for them.


Try teaching with puppets for grammar lessons and blending words. This will really make it engaging for your students.

List of Toys For the Classroom


1# Mr. Potato Head

2# Mini Basketball Set

3# Any Dress-Up Items or Funny Hats

4# Puppets

5# Super Hero Action Figures

6# Toy Microphone

7# Toy Baby

8# Dolls with Different Outfits

9# Fingerlings from Baby Monkey to Untamed Raptors

10# Fisher-Price Classic Farmer Says See N’ Say

3#Complete Sentences: Be strict in making the student speak in complete sentences with your beginner ESL lessons. Correct them immediately. For instance, I use my fingers to show each word so it is easier for the student to make short sentences. For some students, I need to break down each sentence into 2-3 words at a time and that’s OK.

short sentences for kids

Many of my beginner ESL students forget to use articles in sentences like a, an, and the. That is why you really need to focus when your students are speaking.  Try to use some complete sentence games when they are struggling to speak in complete sentences.


It really helps to sing the sentence back to the student so they get the flow of the sentence. This will help with students that are speaking in a choppy way.


List Of Common English Grammar Mistakes


1# Her/his/its

Correct: Her dress is pink.

Incorrect: His dress is pink.

(I see many students get his and her mixed up all the time)


2# Me/I

Correct: I want strawberry ice cream.

Incorrect: Me want strawberry ice cream.

(These are very common mistakes with lower level students.)


3# This/that/those/these

Correct: That is my bike. These are my toys.

Incorrect: Those is my bike. This are my toys.


4# Subject/verb agreement

Correct: The dog chases the cat. The dogs chase the cat.

Incorrect: The dog is chases the cat. The dogs are chase the cat.


5# For/Since

Correct: I have lived in China for 8 years. I have lived in China since 2011.  

Incorrect: I have lived in China since 8 years. I have lived in China for 2011.


6# Future tense

Correct: Tomorrow we will go to the park.

Incorrect: Tomorrow we go park.


7# Incorrect preposition

Correct: 0n January 11th, I will be ten years old.

Incorrect: In January 11th, I be ten years old.


8# Irregular plurals

Correct: I saw two sheep in the valley.  

Incorrect: I saw two sheeps in the valley.


9# Confusion over gender

Correct: My sister will be coming to Manila. She is happy.

Incorrect: My sister be coming to Manila. He is happy.


10# Misuse of plural

Correct: I’ll find my mom in the mall.

Incorrect:  I’ll find my moms in the mall.


11# The/my/his

Correct: I am going to the car now. He drove his car to the beach.

Incorrect: I go to the car (the car is yours). He drove the car (the car is his) to the beach.


12# On/in

Correct: I was born in 2011.

Incorrect: I was born on 2011.


13# In/at

Correct: The train departs at 7:00 p.m. It is in 20 minutes.

Incorrect: The train departs in 7:00 p.m. It is at 20 minutes.


4#Talk Time – I use the time after the beginning song to talk with the student. You can role-play saying Hi, How are you, or any basic conversation you want the student to learn. I bring back my stuffed animals to make it fun for the student. This gives the students a little free talk time. Now, parents want more talk time in their child’s lessons.


You want to relate the conversation time to the curriculum or the students’ life. Many students around the world like the same things as cars, bike, and balls.  Think about where your student lives and bring things to class that the student might like.  This will help to make a strong connection with students.


 Sometimes it is hard to come up with ideas for talk time. Here is a list of ESL conversation topics for beginners. This has over 150 conversation topics for ESL students.


List of ESL Conversation Questions


1# Do you like cake?

2# Do you have a bike?

3# What do you like to eat?

4# Do you have a dog?

5# Do you like ice cream?

6# Do you play phone games?

7# When is your birthday?

8# Who is your best friend?

9# What color do you like?

10# Where do you live?

11# Do you like to go to the park?

12# Do you like to do homework?

13# What hobbies do you like?

14# What animal do you like?

15# What year are you in school?


5#Ask Student Questions– Try to ask the student questions at least every other slide. Try to relate beginner ESL lessons to the students’ life. Like with numbers, pets, and colors. Remember to keep it simple and think about when you were a kid and what was important to you.


Try to ask the student questions related to school, pets, family, hobbies, where they live, what they want to be, foods, colors, and holidays. This will help the student make the connection between their life and the material.


6#Encourage the Student to Ask Questions – After you ask the student a question get them to ask you a question back. If the student doesn’t understand how to ask questions then model it for the student. For example, I start the question off with: “Teacher Daniel” What is your favorite color? This prompts the student to ask me a question. Later on, they will be asking you many questions by themselves.


Also, create worksheets to ask questions based on your lessons this would really help with students that struggle with asking questions. This is an excellent resource for your ESL toolbar. Here is a great site for creating ESL asking questions worksheets.

7#Have Fun & Joke Around – I start to do this more in the last 5 lessons of the 10 lessons. The first 5 lessons should focus on setting the boundaries with your student. Also, using the platform, and getting them to speaking in complete sentences all the time. I look for opportunities to joke around and have fun with my students to get them laughing.


Use some ESL classroom games that you can use in your online ESL classes to kids. You want to have fun English classes.


1# Pictionary

2# Who Wants to be a Millionaire

3# Odd One Out

4# Animal Alphabet Relay

5# What Will You Bring On Vacation

6# Describe an Object without Naming It

7# Guess the Action

8# Unscramble Words

9# Cat Dog Counting Game

10# Linking Letters and Words


Adding games that relate to the material will help juice up your lessons. It gives you the excuse to have fun with your students.


8#Homework – Give them homework that relates to what they are struggling with. I make customized flashcards that the student is struggling with for each lesson. If a student is struggling with a certain phonic sound then I will give them homework on that. Remember to check in with the student to make sure they are doing the homework.


Moreover, ESL homework worksheets are a simple and effective way to give students homework to make sure they understand the material. Remember to try to balance the homework you give students with what they are already getting at their school.

These are the 8 things I focus on when I do proper Beginner ESL Lessons to kids. After ten lessons with the student create a video showing the students’ progress.


Finally, make an attractive offer for parents to buy the first 10 lessons. You need to give 110% during this time. This will be how you will sell more lessons to students. Also, you need to come up with a system to show the parents that their child is improving. That could be every 10 or 15 lessons. You want to keep that spark and motivations going so the parents feel you are making an impact.


Beginner ESL Lessons

Let’s end this with a quote It doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop”. – Confucius This is so true when it comes to learning a new language.

Helping online ESL teachers to “Go Solo” is my passion.

Daniel Anthony DiDio     Happy Teaching 🙂


Teach ESL Online

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8 Super Useful Tips in Teaching Beginner ESL Lessons Online & It is Not What You Think

Beginner ESL Lessons can be tricky for “Solo” teachers when teaching them online. Mistakes happen so don’t beat yourself up about it and focus more on the...

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