LearnScope Project 2003

Online Discussion Forum
September 9th - 11th

How can English speaking instructors improve effectiveness with NESB learners online, and encourage participation?

This question was posed in the forum discussion and the chat on Wednesday. Below are the collective responses (in no particular order). The list reads like a collection of good practice strategies in teaching, and begs the question, "do we need to do anything different when teaching people from a non-English speaking background"? Is there a tendency to overplay the significance of cultural and linguistic differences?


  • make very regular contact either through chat or telephone
  • have 2/3 times per week set aside where teacher is available in chat room and contactable by telephone
  • make sure students have every opportunity to go through any difficulties they are having with the teacher
  • encourage students by finding something positive to say about each one and saying it publicly - a pat on the back for their contribution
  • check for understanding
  • don't use slang
  • task-based cooperative-collaboration instruction in group chat
  • be open, creating a relaxing environment
  • if in chat, no correction of grammar unless asked by the student
  • find a topic that students have strong feelings about
  • give everybody a go
  • chat are good for debates in groups
  • use plain English where possible.
  • Explain technical terms when used and
  • have well structured questions and sentences. No more than 1 or 2 concepts per sentence.
  • demonstrate respect and compassion
  • build trust with students
  • using clear language to minimise the risk of communication problems.
  • Make participants feel comfortable with the group that they are learning with.
  • use emoticons like :) :(

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CHAT Session on Wednesday, September 10th at 10.30 am CST, 11.00 am AEST, 1.00 am GMT