Online Teaching – Coffee Shop of the Future

“Is teaching online easier than in a classroom?
Here is my story.” – Natasa Dinic

Teaching Serbian as a foreign language is something, I have been doing in Canada for almost two decades. Over the past 19 years, I have taught Serbian language, literature and history through Serbian Orthodox Churches in Vancouver, community centers, and my home, but today, 90% of my teaching is via Skype!

No matter where you live, it can be done! Distance and time zones are not obstacles anymore. Neither my students nor I have to worry about being stuck in a traffic, or setting aside that extra time in order to commute to class. Instead of having Serbian classes once per week (which is the average number of classes for children and adults in Canada and USA), now students can easily increase that number of classes per week in an easy and convenient manner.

When I started online teaching, all I needed was a good internet connection, laptop and a headset. I had gathered an exceptional foundation of resources during my teaching career, and I simply needed to learn how to utilize what I already had acquired for this new platform.

As a person who thinks outside the box, teaching online was a very natural way for me. Yet it allowed me to develop my instruction in an even more creative and fun way!

It provides a very interactive format. My students and I share a screen, exchange messages, files, videos, audios and articles. I utilize all these various forms of media to build and develop students’ conversational, verbal, written and reading skills in the Serbian language.  

The internet is full of resources. There is so much material out there that allows me to keep expanding my teaching techniques, methods and resources. Podcasts, News, YouTube, Facebook and much more, provide great platforms to draw from and create “out-of-the-box” foundation for lessons. I use textbooks as reference material only. They are just a skeleton.

Regardless of the media I may choose for a particular online lesson, I send prior to the lesson all the materials students will need. This will give them time to look over the materials and prepare any questions they may have.

I take the first 5 minutes of each lesson to chat with my students, despite their level of skill, in order that I can make notes regarding their current experiences in life. I then use their experiences to customize a lesson plan, focusing on grammar areas that I can see require development. It also assists me when seeking out instructional material as it ensures I tailor the lesson to make it relevant to each student’s life. I feel that it is important to take the extra time and effort to ensure that students are getting what they need, and they feel that the service I am providing is valuable to their lives.

Online teaching simply works and I must say I have more students now than when I was teaching in the conventional classroom setting.

When I ask my students to provide feedback with respect to the online teaching forum, most of them express that they felt unsure in the beginning, typically as it was a foreign method to them, however, once they became accustomed to it, they absolutely loved it! The most consistently reported advantages include that it is simple, easy, and saves so much time, money and stress.

Technology is constantly evolving, and we may take advantage of the innovations in the tech world to make teaching and learning simple, fun and easy.

Online teaching is the coffee shop of the future. Let’s explore it together!

Natasa Dinic
Photographer: Bella Siltani

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