Tools and Resources for Online Teaching (Part 2)

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Many of us have been teaching from home for more than a year. What a crazy milestone! While at home, we have all been trying our best to support our students by using various online and offline tools. It has been a tremendous learning journey for both teachers and students. However, often meaningful interaction is missing in our online class. Additionally, with lower-level students, introducing a new tool or online source can be challenging because of a lack of technological knowledge. This is where WhatsApp comes in handy.


WhatsApp is a popular messaging application that many students already use in their daily lives, which means that they already possess the knowledge to use it. There are several other advantages of using WhatsApp as a teaching tool. First of all, WhatsApp can be used as your whiteboard to interact with students when it comes to answering questions within a limited time. Secondly, it also allows extra time for learners who need more time to work on their answers while still encouraging quicker learners to stay active. In addition, it is convenient to provide immediate feedback on each individual response from students. Last but not least, students love it!

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Here are some tips on how to use it in your class.

  1. Create a group for your class.

I have two classes, Morning Class and Afternoon Class. Even though most of my students are in both classes, I created two groups so as to be organized (Picture 1).

  1. Give instructions.
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Using WhatsApp will allow students to work on their own answers without copying someone else’s work. This is how it works:

  1. Give clear instructions to your students. Direct them to use WhatsApp to answer your question. Sometimes, students are confused if you don’t tell them where to go in order to answer the question. Always say “Go to WhatsApp” before your active students shout out their answers in class. In this way, relatively weaker students will have more time to work on the question, yet stronger students can still be very active in the group.
  2. Type your question and send it to your students. After you verbally explain and ask the question, it is always beneficial to type your answer again so that your students can read it and work on it. This is not only good for your students, but also good for you to check which answer you and your students are working on (Picture 2).
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  1. Provide feedback

After your students send in their answers, it’s your turn to monitor their responses. I personally don’t like to call out my students’ names and point out their mistakes. Some students can be very shy and sensitive when it comes to making mistakes. In order to provide feedback on their mistakes, I click on the message and then reply to it privately. Students will receive a notification on their devices that the teacher has made a comment (Pictures 3&4).

It’s always stressful for teachers to introduce new technology or tools to our students who are at pre-beginner or beginner levels. When thinking about using technology to help our students, I always try to use sources at hand to accommodate students and ourselves. That’s why WhatsApp was introduced in my class.

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Have you used WhatsApp as a teaching tool? What other platforms have you found to work well with lower levels?  

Hello, my name is Bei Zhang. I am delighted to be part of the team to share my ideas and experience. I am currently working at Huron University College as an English Language Learning specialist. My job there is to help international students with their academic English language skills. I also teach ESL and LINC at Thames Valley District School Board, and ESL at London Language Institute, a private language school in London. I graduated in 2018 with a master’s degree in Education Studies from Western University, focused on applied linguistics and teacher education. I also have a background in human resources management. I hope that my unique perspective of teaching ESL in different educational systems can benefit the TESL Ontario Blog and our members.


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