Essential Equipment and Classroom Setup for Teaching English Online
Here’s a checklist of types of equipment that you will need before start teaching English online.
- Computer – A reasonably old computer, the model released within 5 years from today usually works, but ensure you check the spec requirement by the school you’re working for.
- Webcam – able to shoot HD video (1080 or 720HD)
- Microphone – Computer build-in might work, but we recommend using a mic either on your headset or a good external one with higher quality sound.
- Good lighting
- Headset – Many schools will require you to wear a headset that has higher quality sound and reduce the echoing.
- Good Internet speed – Typically minimal 5 MB per sec uploading and downloading. You are excellent shape if you have over 20 MB per sec speed.
Having the proper supplies and teaching environment can make a big difference when teaching online. For those of us that are working many hours, we have to build a surrounding that is comfortable. Having the proper equipment is critical as well.
Please do write in the comments letting us know some of the items that you use in your teaching environment. We would love to hear from you!
Are you a Mac user or a Windows user? In the past, when many of the Chinese schools first came online, most of their applications were built only for Windows.
Luckily, this does not seem to be an issue anymore, but you still need to be cautious. Having a computer that runs on Windows is your safest choice.
HP, Asus, Lenovo, Acer, Samsung, and Dell are among the best sellers for lower cost, yet quality laptops. Furthermore, most of the Chromebook has the proper specifications for teaching English online. Chromebook is not accepted by all of the online schools, so please check ahead of time before purchasing one.
For an automatically updated list of the top-selling laptops.
Important: Teachers have reported that Chromebook is not compatible with QKids and MagicEars. There might be issues with Chromebook not being compatible with certain schools that have their own teaching platforms.
Computer Spec for QKids
- CPU: Dual Core 2.0 GHz or above
- CPU Model: i5/i7 for laptop
- Hard drive memory: 2GB or above
- REM memory: 512 MB or above
- Operating system (OS): Windows 7/8/10 or macOS
We have an extensive article covering the top laptops in more detail HERE. Just like the article on headsets, there is a list of the top laptops for educators that can be found at the bottom.
Palfish requires Android operating system: 4.0.3 and up
One of the primary tools that you will be using is a good quality headset. Make sure you choose wisely and understand that this is a necessary investment.
Keep in mind that if you have a Mac, you need to get a USB or Bluetooth headset. The exception is if you have a MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro supports audio input as well as output so you can use a typical three pin headset with a microphone.
There is a full article about the top headsets for online teaching that you can find HERE. The list of headsets at the bottom of the article is updated with real-time information.
Most laptops come with built-in webcams nowadays, make sure to look for a new laptop with a built-in HD camera. If you do not have a high-quality camera or are running on a desktop, then you can purchase an external webcam.
- The main specification when buying a webcam is pixels and frames per second to deliver a high-quality video stream to your students. Look for one that has 1080p at 30fps or 720p at 30fps. Do note as well that many cameras list 1080p for screen recording, but when you look at the specifications for streaming that might run at 720p.
- Autofocus and face tracking. Make sure to check if it will run on your operating system.
- You can also look for a camera that has a noise reduction microphone to enhance the audio quality. For teaching online, we recommend that you use a headset with a noise reduction microphone. Your built-in microphone has more of a tendency to pick up sounds from your typing on the keyboard which can be distracting for the students.
- Friendly Reminder: Please do not forget to look at which operating systems are supported.
- Best selling brand – Logitech ends up being one of the more popular brands. The model that has been one of the top-rated and best selling for some years now is the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920
- Full HD 1080p video calling (up to 1920 x 1080 pixels) with the latest version of Skype for Windows; Webcam with 5 foot cable
- 720p HD video calling (up to 1280 x 720 pixels) with supported clients; Full HD video recording (up to 1920 x 1080 pixels).Max Resolution: 1080p/30fps 720p/30fps
- Video compression, Built in dual stereo mics with automatic noise reduction; Automatic low light correction, Tripod ready universal clip fits laptops, LCD or monitors
- Compatible with: Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10 or later; Works in USB Video Device Class (UVC) mode: Mac OS 10.10 or later (HD 720p on FaceTime for Mac or other supported video calling clients; Full HD 1080p video recording with QuickTime Player) Chrome OS,Android v 5.0 or above (with supported video calling clients),USB port,Internet connection
Also, if you are looking for a way to record your demo videos then we suggest you look into ManyCam.
Teaching Assisting Tools
Many companies provide you with lesson plans and curriculum and teaching materials, whereas some companies might expect you to supply your own. However, it’s still come in handy if you have the prop to engage your younger students.
- Magnetized whiteboard
- Flashcards – letters, pictures, etc
- Hand puppets
- Wall decor – fun learning environment and useful info
Dry Erase Board
If you are teaching kids, it can be helpful to have a dry erase board handy. The larger magnetic dry erase boards are good to have behind you so that you give the kids the feeling of being in the classroom.
Having one that is portable and easy to write on can be good as well. Some teachers find it practical to use a smaller dry erase board, while others see it as being too cumbersome.
Puppets and Other Teaching Assisting Tools
For those of you that are teaching children, puppets can come in handy. By handy, I do mean hand puppets. Some teachers go the DIY route and make their own, while others find it easier to buy them online. Having at least one stuffed animal around will help keep most students interested in the lesson.
Background & Wall Decorates
ESL Teaching References and Books
See our top choice of books for both English teachers and students.
Other Assisting Tools
Flashcards – These come in all different shapes and sizes, so make sure that you find ones that are practical and show up clearly on your web camera. You can look at the various types of flashcards for basic concepts, reading and writing, and general study aids. This pack seems to have all that you would need:
Perhaps you’re also looking for something to entertain yourself, a teacher mug.
- Make sure that your desk is large enough to accommodate various props and other items if your students are children. If you are teaching adults, you should not be as concerned.
- As a teacher, your primary concern when selecting a desk is how your body is situated in relation to your camera and computer. Take the time to figure out what works best for you.
There is a list of the best selling computer desks here. The list is automatically updated so you will see the best sellers based on current ratings.
A comfortable chair that is also ergonomic is another important part of your office. Look for one that has multiple adjustments while still fitting firmly around you. Read plenty of reviews with a focus on which ones last the longest.
Having a creaky chair can take away from the learning experience of your students. Unless you have a super clear noise reduction microphone on your headset, it might pick up the extra noise of leaning back or forward in your chair.
For those of you who are adventurous, you might want to look into a standup desk, which is especially a trend for ones working in front of a computer for a long period of time. Many people are finding that using a standup desk helps to keep your energy up, while also helping with better posture without sitting all day long. There also desks that function as a height-adjustable desk, like the one manufactured by Autonomous.
Recommended Standing Desks
One of the best out there is made by Autonomous. The height is adjustable with a press of a button. It’s powered by an electric motor to make the height adjustment, which extends up to 47 inches. It’s beloved by office space. It’s reasonably priced at $299 and definitely far better than the brands sold on Amazon, where it’s $349 but hard work self-cranking to make the height adjustment.
Recommended Desk Converters
Having an adjustable laptop stand can be a benefit as well. In case you do use a standing desk, this will be something that is essential. If your digital nomad, there are small portable laptop stands that can comfortably fit in your bag.
Recommended Laptop Stands
Recommended Travel Laptop Stands
The proper lighting is essential for your students to see you effectively, and to ensure that you do not strain your eyes. Fortunately, this is not as big of an investment as a desk, chair, or new laptop.
Lighting is one of the topics that we discuss in the article on how to stay healthy while teaching. https://oetjobs.com/stay-healthy-teaching-online/
Look into an adjustable LED desk lamp. One of the best and most cost-effective is Effy Lumos. If that is not what you are looking for, then check out this updated list of the best selling desktop lamps.
Look into the use of bias lighting that sits behind your monitor or laptop. Having this sort of set up makes a huge difference for those of us that are working long hours.
Recommended Desktop Lighting
Surge Protector & USB Charger
Unfortunately, this is an item that some people overlook. Doing so can result in the loss of a laptop or at least a burnt up charger. For those of you that don’t already know this, most of the chargers’ newer laptops have built-in surge protectors. However, having extra protection never hurts.
Depending on where you are in the world, some countries and locations might have less stable electricity grid and supply. To avoid the interruption of the work there are various Battery Backup Uninterruptible Power Supply in cases where you have fluctuations in power. Depending on the one you buy, they can stay on for another 10 to 20 minutes if the power goes completely out. Here are the top sellers that are automatically updated.
If you are a traveling teacher, you should have a surge protector or two. A wise investment is this one from Belkin that is also an adapter and comes with two USB charging ports.
Recommended Surge Protectors & USB Charger
Now that you have all these devices you will have to figure out what to do with all the wires. To me, this is one of the biggest hassles especially when you are on the road.
Our lists of recommended products can always use some help from other teachers just like you. Please do share your opinions in the comments below.
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Last update on 2020-01-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API