Top tips for learning English online. By English with Stephen

Top 10 Tips for Learning English Online

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Hello and welcome to the latest edition of Learning English with Stephen, the podcast that gives you tips, strategies, and stories all about learning English. Today we are looking at some tips for how to learn online. Learning online is not the same as learning face-to-face, so what can you do to make the most of the situation when learning English.

First, some music.

I’d like to remind you that if you go to my site, you can find the transcript to this episode. Many students find reading the transcript helps tremendously with new words and pronunciation, so give it a go.

On to today’s episode, which is becoming more and more important: my ten top tips for how to study online.

Even before all the problems with Covid-19 hit the world, the option of studying online was becoming more and more popular. The idea of studying when you want is very attractive, but it can also save travel time and should, in theory, be cheaper.

However, when the Coronavirus pandemic hit, many people were forced to both teach and study online. Lots of teachers experimented with different techniques to find the best ways to teach online. But what about us as students? Did we change the way we learn?

As both an online teacher and student, I can see things from both sides.

Before I give you my 10 top tips for studying online, I’d just like to sell my own services for a minute. I give online classes, so if you would like to study with me, go to my site and look for the Study with Stephen page. You can find my site at

And so, back to my top ten tips

  1. What type of course?

It is important to know what type of courses are available so you can decide if they are right for you. You might have a basic 1-2-1, class with a teacher and you. In this case, the dynamics are very similar to a traditional 1-2-1 in-person class.

You could have a group course with online classes? This is also similar to a traditional school class, but instead of meeting up in a physical classroom, you meet up in a virtual classroom. You might have just one group, or your teacher might divide you into smaller groups to do projects.

These first two types are known as a synchronous course because you have to be online at the same time.

Another option is a course that you follow online in your own time. You might watch videos or do quizzes, but you decide what you want to do and when. There is no feedback from other people,m just the computer. This is a type of self-study course.

Finally, you might have online videos and quizzes which you can do in your own time, but there is interaction with other participants and perhaps an online teacher. This is known as an asynchronous course because you don’t need to be online at the same time.

  1. Online is not easier

There is an idea that learning online is easier. This is false. It is more convenient, but not easier. You still have to do the learning and all the hard work associated with that. If you think it is going to be easier, you will quickly lose all motivation.

  1. Technical side

Make sure you have a good computer or tablet or phone. It doesn’t need to be the most expensive, but it does need to be able to play video, conference calls and audios. Make sure you know how to use the equipment and that you have a good internet connection. If you don’t have a good internet connection, try to download the material during the night so it is ready to study the next morning.

  1. Where are you going to study?

Just because you can be mobile, does not mean you can study just anywhere. Make sure your space is quiet and free of distractions. Turn off Facebook or Whatsapp or anything else that might stop you from concentrating.

  1. Set your goals

We will look in a later podcast about how to set goals for yourself. It is important here as it can be easy to forget why you are online. By remembering your goals you can increase your motivation.

  1. Autonomy

It is harder for the teacher to hold your hand and show you exactly what you have to do. You are going to have to take more responsibility. You can go to sleep while the teacher is talking, and she probably won’t notice. But this is not a win for you. All good learners have high levels of autonomy. But when learning online this has to increase even more. You might have to search for more information, or find out how to use some computer software, all of this is your responsibility.

  1. Plan

Make sure you know when your deadlines are and what is expected of you. Have a to-do list and make sure you are covering everything and you are up to date. It is very easy to forget about studying for a few days when you are at home alone, but you can very quickly get behind schedule and this often leads to students deciding to stop their course.

  1. Ask for help

While you need to be more autonomous, you still need your teachers or trainers to guide you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, and don’t wait until the last minute as your teachers will probably have lots of other requests from other students. While we are talking about this, be patient. You might ask for help just after a teacher has logged off and she might not come back online for 24 hours or more.

  1. Get involved

Be an active member of any discussion groups. Comment on other people’s projects. Participate in forums. The one big downside of learning online can be the fact that you don’t meet people and make new friends or talk about bug ideas. You can do this virtually, but it is up to you to make the effort.

  1. Take breaks and stay healthy

It can be easy to just sit in front of the screen all day thinking you are being a great person for studying so hard. Don’t do this! First of all, there is a lot of research that says we learn more when we study in short bursts. This is, after all, why my podcasts are short. Secondly, you don’t need me to tell you about the benefits of regular exercise and healthy food.

So that is about all from me today. If you have any other tips for how to learn online, please leave me a comment. I try to answer everyone who writes something.

Remember that if you would like to study with me, go to my site and find the Study with Stephen page of my website and get in touch. You can find my website at and you can also find the transcript to this podcast at that address as well.

Thanks for listening, and make sure you turn off your computer or phone now and go out for a walk or a run.

Until next time, goodbye!

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