ESL Teaching Strategies: #5 Phonics

Attention Online ESL teachers! Time for another teaching strategy to use in your virtual classroom. Today we are talking all about Phonics. In this blog post you will learn the what, why, and how of teaching using phonics. 


First off, if you want to see this skill in action, take a look at this video of Nancy (with a cameo of baby Jack) as she shows you exactly how to say and the sounds of each letter of the alphabet. 

What are phonics?

Well here is the definition straight from the all-knowing-google-search: 

"a method of teaching people to read by correlating sounds with letters or groups of letters in an alphabetic writing system"

Basically it is the sounds associated with each letter. Now if you are like me you may have learned these with the "uh" sound at the end of each sound. For example, T says "tuh". Well when you are teaching an ESL learner the sounds it is much more beneficial to use synthetic phonics 

Synthetic phonics, also known as...

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12 Fast Finisher Activities (with a Freebie) for the Online Classroom

Hey there VIPKID teachers! Picture this! You are teaching a regular student and they are doing great. Every concept is clicking, they are reading fluently on each slide and their pronunciation is perfect. You cruise through the lesson and before you know it. Bam! You are out of slides. The problem is that you need to teach for 25 minutes but you have only taught for 20. Yikes! What do you do for the next 5 minutes? Hint - tic-tac-toe will not last that long. Keep reading to see 12 activities (plus a Freebie to download) to do when your online students finish early. 

Check out this video to see some of these games in action with examples. 


Ok, before we get to the activities let's go over some guidelines. These games and activities should be extensions of the lesson and/or rapport building exercises. Yes, you want the student to have fun but you also need them to be learning and having a conversation. Try to tie in the lesson whenever possible. First, you...

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ESL Teaching Strategies: #4 Appropriate Language

Time for another teaching strategy to use in your ESL classroom! Woohoo!  In this post we are talking all about ESL Appropriate Language. You will learn what it is, why we need to use it, and how to use it including examples you can practice and integrate into your teaching. You can also see the other teaching strategies I have posted by clicking the pictures below:


Here is a video from Nancy explaining this strategy where you can see it in action in the actual classroom. 

What is ESL Appropriate Language?

We are not talking about the professional appropriate language here (although keep the potty talk away from the classroom). No, no this is all about the words you use to adjust to the level of your student. Different levels require a different wording and sentence structure as to not confuse the learner or hinder their progression.

A perfect place to start with knowing what is appropriate language is in the lesson vocabulary, objectives,...

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What do you do if your baby wakes up while teaching?

Imagine this! You are in your classroom teaching your favorite little student and your eyes widen as you hear the sad cries of your sweet new born baby. What do you do? While this is not ideal and nobody plans on this happening while they are teaching, it does happen. Don't worry, you aren't alone! In this post you will find some helpful tips if your baby wakes up while you are teaching. 

Nancy is not immune to this happening as well. Check out this video to see what happens when baby Jack wakes up during class when her husband is not home. 



Now I want to tell you one thing first, give yourself time to heal and get used to life with a newborn. You will need some time to rest with all the late night feedings and constant outfit changes. Give yourself permission to slow down and/or take a break with teaching. The beauty of working for VIPKID is that your hours are very flexible so take advantage of this during this time. 

Preventive Measures

Here are...

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ESL Teaching Strategies: #3 Student Output

In this blog post you are going to find information all about the ESL Teaching Strategy of Student Output. Let's jump right into learning how to get those kiddos talking. 

Check out the teaching strategies here:

#1 TPR.                                                                 #2 Modeling



First, take a look at Nancy's video all about the tips she uses to get student output and examples in the real life classroom. 


What is Student Output?

This is everything the student is saying to you. The goal for the lower leveled students is 50% teacher and 50% student. For the higher leveled students it is 30% teacher and 70% student. Producing words and language lead to greater understanding and explanation of the ideas and concepts the students are learning.


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15 VIPKID Teaching Tips

If you are a teacher, you know that you are always on the lookout for ways to make your classroom move more smoothly. In this post you will find 15 tips to use in your online classroom gig with VIPKID. 

For this post, I have added some of my own tips but here is an older video from Nancy that are still very applicable and explains some of these tips in detail. 

1. Classroom Set-up:

Whether you are a veteran or newbie, getting your classroom set-up just right is going to make a huge impact on your level of effective teaching. Grab Nancy's free Classroom Set-up Guide to see the equipment she uses and recommends for your classroom. 

2. Feedback

During class time, have a notebook or side screen where you can take notes while you are teaching the student. It can get confusing as you move quickly from class to class so be sure to write it down. Nancy likes to use the 'sandwich method' to write two things the student did well and one constructive criticism in...

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ESL Teaching Strategies: #2 Modeling

Welcome back to another lesson in ESL teaching strategies. Today we are going to focus and learn more about "MODELING". If you missed #1 about TPR, you can check it out here. 

Take a look at this video to see Nancy explaining this strategy and using it in the actual classroom. Modeling "modeling" if you will, so Meta!

What is Modeling?

No, you do not need to cue up "Vogue" by Madonna and get your catwalk shoes on. This teaching strategy is all about showing the students the expected behavior before you ask them to jump in and perform. Most often explained with the "I do, We do, You do" method, with a gradual release to independency. 

Lower-Leveled Students will require you to do each of these steps. They will need almost everything modeled and they will mimic your actions and speech. That is why it is important to use good instructional TPR and props, careful pronunciation, and encourage full sentences. 

With Higher-Leveled Students you can skip the "I do" and/or...

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How to Pass Your Smart Demo with VIPKID.

Hey there! So you have met the basic requirements with VIPKID and want to move onto the demo step in the application process? You will find that you get 3 options here - one of them is the Smart Demo. Let's choose this option because we are smart, right? Great! It's quick and virtually painless to do but I want to share my knowledge (really Nancy's knowledge) to help you get through it fast. I'm Teacher Stephanie and in this post I want to give you a quick summary of the smart demo steps, an overview of teaching strategies and a checklist to get yourself ready before you click "Record". 


If you do not have an application coach please feel free to use this link or enter in the code: Nancy0002 before you submit your demo lesson to gain access to all of Nancy's coaching wisdom and resources. Trust me, you will totally want this goodness guys. 

Also, go watch this video to see a complete walkthrough of the Smart Demo inside the app. 

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A Quick Guide to Teaching Higher Level Students with VIPKID

Hi I'm Stephanie (insert monotone echo "Hello Stephanie") and I have a confession.... I have taught with VIPKID for over two and a half years and have never taught any of the higher levels. What?!? Here's what happened, I love teaching the little ones and after the first month or two, I never had a problem with bookings. However, I must admit, I am intrigued by the depth of the content and the lure of teaching a more independent mind. So, I decided to get my own certifications for Levels 4, 5, and 6. Now that I have them, I had three questions

1-Who am I teaching?

2- What am I teaching?

3- How do I teach it?

I took some notes from my course classes and found lots of great online content to answer my questions, including this video full of great do's and don'ts from Miss Nancy Taylor herself...


I've compiled my "research" (chicken scratches stained with Mac & Cheese) here for you so that you have one quick guide for teaching higher leveled students with...

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10 Tips to Increase Your Bookings for VIPKID Teachers

Are you a new teacher struggling to get bookings with VIPKID? Don't give up hope just yet! In this post, I want to share 10 tips to increase your bookings and get a schedule full of regulars! Let's dive in!

Nancy has a great video here explaining some of these tips in detail and why they are helpful. Check it out!

1. Time

Plain and simple: It takes time. You will have to build that schedule over weeks and months. It is so hard to wait and I know you are anxious to fill in all those class blocks but just be patient. It takes time for everyone! The kids in China have breaks from school for different seasons and holidays (just like our kids). The low booking seasons are late January-February for Chinese New Year and June/July/August for summer vacation. Just know that if you start in a low booking season, you need to keep going! Things will pick up! Most teachers schedules become full after 2-3 months. 

2. Be Available

Sounds obvious right? Well I would suggest that you open as...

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