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Clarifying language

Once an online teacher has introduced learners to new language through a context, the teacher needs to clarify and check that the learners understand the meaning, form and pronunciation of that language. Just as with teaching face-to-face, it’s important for an online teacher to plan how they’re going to record new vocabulary, or highlight form and any pronunciation features of a structure on the whiteboard or via a presentation slide.


Look at the whiteboard images below. The teacher has created these during an online lesson where the main aim is to speculate using modal verbs. As well as the grammar, various vocabulary items have emerged during the course of the lesson. Analyse each board. How effective is each one in terms of helping to clarify language for learners?

Whiteboard A - An online whiteboard. Whiteboard A shows a Word document which the teacher has shared with
her student using screenshare. There are new words at the top and bottom of the screen and it looks like further vocabulary will continue down the page.

Whiteboard B - A Word document which is shared with the student using screenshare. Whiteboard B shows a Word document which the teacher has shared with
her student using screenshare. The text has been annotated and different colours are used for certain phrases

Whiteboard C - A mini whiteboard held up to the camera. Whiteboard C shows a mini whiteboard which the teacher has written on
and held up to the camera. The screen is divided clearly into two, which
helps the student to see what the grammar is and what the vocabulary is.

Check your answers

Reflect and share

What tips do you think are useful for using a whiteboard online? Think of your experiences of using a whiteboard in a face-to-face environment, or using one online if you have done so, and share your tips in the comments.

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This article is from the free online course:

Teaching English Online

Cambridge Assessment English