­Looking for inspiration for this article, I dug through a chunk of the internet to see what the approach of residential courses vs online learning looks like these days. And this is not to say that one approach is superior to the other, but rather to determine how the differences between the two are perceived. After all, online learning has become such an obvious item in the language schools’ offerings that it is hard to believe that for most schools this is only the 4th year of their adventure with this form of teaching. However, it offers so many benefits and is so convenient that the majority of people who use it can no longer imagine going back to the stationary form.

And so we can read on one of the pages:

„At our language school, learning English via the internet is virtually no different from classroom teaching”.

Question: Is it really? And if so, what does it look like from the language school’s perspective?

Residential vs online learning

Technology is developing rapidly and the way in which it makes our lives easier allows it to be adopted very quickly in everyday life. However, language schools need to prepare for this if they want to expand their offerings and provide top quality services. And although solutions such as Skype have already existed on the market for many years, online courses are much more than just substitute facilities, enabling students to access information more easily.

When preparing to run such a course, the challenge is to:

  • preparing the venue from which you are teaching,
  • maintaining engagement,
  • adequate preparation of yourself and your students,
  • maintaining discipline,
  • use of appropriate tools,
  • maintaining interest throughout the course of the activities,
  • flexible timeframe.

With the development of technology, the way in which students acquire new skills has changed. Thanks to the internet, there are now many opportunities for those interested in expanding their knowledge and skills.

How to prepare for online classes

This would seem to be a foundation that everyone has in their little finger, but I can still see that there is room for improvement here on some very important points for your student.

Online classes – Background

What you have behind you in an online lesson is almost as important as what you are wearing. It is best to use a uniform background. However, if you do have a need to use decorations, make sure they don’t create unnecessary chaos, are minimalistic and don’t distract students during the lesson. You can also use one of the filters for the background, but to be honest, they are not ideal and don’t always work as they should.


During the day, if your desk is placed opposite a window or in a well-lit room, this is usually not a problem. However, it is important to make sure before the session that the light falls appropriately and that you are visible on camera. It is best to have the light source in front of you so that your face is clearly visible. The problem starts when the room is poorly lit and the day gets shorter. This is when LED ring lights come to the rescue. Compared to inconsistent overhead lighting and lamps set at different angles, they are a real salvation. When choosing a lamp, it is worth paying attention first and foremost to wattage, adjustability, size and light colour (cold, neutral, warm).

Eye contact

You surely already know about the value of providing your students with the best quality images 🙂 The problem arises, however, where to look in order not to wander with your eyes and to maintain eye contact with the student. Especially when teaching a 1:1 class, I have a proven Pro Tip for you!

Pro Tip: Instead of setting the image to full screen, move it to the top centre so that it is under the camera. The trainee’s eyes should then be in the middle of the screen, allowing you to catch eye contact. This will make the student feel that they have your full attention.

Maintaining student engagement

When you decide to teach online, you need to make sure that your classes are well organised and attractive to your students. With online teaching, it is much easier to get distracted. And here you need to be prepared to use less traditional teaching methods. It’s worth tapping into current trends and – depending on the age of the student – providing attractive materials. This could be video, sound or animation. Online classes use a much higher level of technology compared to offline classes.

What a good online language course should look like?

It should certainly be interesting and interactive. However, it’s not just about readings or videos. After all, we learn a language to be able to communicate and interact, so this element should also be included. In a good online course, there should be room not only for practice and questioning, but also for interaction between the students and between the student and teacher. Interaction between the teacher and students can include receiving personalised feedback and guidance. In order to provide interaction with your students, you can organise a debate or collaboration to solve a specific problem.

A good online course is engaging and challenging. It invites students to participate, motivates them to contribute and captures their interest and attention. It harnesses the joy of learning and challenges students to develop their skills, abilities and knowledge. A good online course is a challenge that you want to take on. How do you achieve this?

Activitybases learning

It is learning by doing, where students actively participate in tasks, games or projects that simulate real-life situations. Instead of passively absorbing information, students interact, cooperate and solve problems. This practical approach ensures that language learning goes beyond theoretical knowledge to foster practical application. Activities can range from conversational exercises that improve conversational skills to multimedia projects that integrate reading, writing, listening and speaking. By immersing learners in such interactive experiences, ABL not only reinforces language competence but also develops critical thinking, creativity and cultural awareness, making it an invaluable tool in holistic language training.

Video materials

Video-based learning, which uses immersive storytelling to make lessons more captivating and memorable, is also growing in popularity. Video and audio-based learning has become a cornerstone of online language courses in the digital age. The power of multimedia has transformed the way students engage with language learning, offering an immersion experience that traditional textbooks cannot provide. Through videos, students interact with native speakers in a variety of authentic contexts, from everyday scenarios to professional issues, enriching their understanding of both language and culture.


The integration of audio and visuals into online language learning offers a completely different approach to assessing a student’s skills. Traditional written tests, while useful, are often inadequate for assessing pronunciation and listening comprehension – two key elements of learning and using language on a daily basis. The teacher is therefore faced with the challenge of creating a test to comprehensively assess a student’s skills. Plus he or she will create it in such a way as to make cheating impossible, which is much easier with online learning than in traditional form.

It is therefore worth keeping up to date with the available programmes and, apart from the most popular Kahoot!, keeping your ear to the ground. For example, Testinvite offers the inclusion of audio and video in the test to help assess the ability to understand and interpret language in different forms. It also gives you the opportunity to assess pronunciation by responding to accompanying multimedia. You can find out more about creating tests with this programme by clicking on HERE.

Nano and microlearning

These are methods that completely change the landscape of online language learning. They adapt perfectly to the needs of today’s students, whose natural environment is social media and who live in an era of information overload and shortened attention spans. Nano and microlearning give flexibility and highly condensed content. They are concise and concrete lessons from which knowledge can be absorbed in short periods of time. They often last only a few minutes and focus on specific language skills or topics. They are the perfect complement to an online language course, where the student can go back to the segments they found most difficult and repeat them at their leisure. Such short lessons fit perfectly into the daily routine and allow you to take advantage of moments such as waiting for the bus or a coffee break.

Looking at today’s lifestyles, it’s hard not to get the impression that online courses are gaining the upper hand in the transformation of learning methods. And, of course, there will be lovers of each method, whether traditionalists who rely on live meetings or testers who prefer hybrid teaching. A school open to new teaching methods will meet the needs of the modern student. And it will recognise the differences between online and offline teaching, they are not the same thing no matter how much we would like them to be.

There is a clear trend towards a more holistic approach in language learning as well. Current trends not only reflect the current needs and preferences of students, but also offer new opportunities. As we move forward, we see year after year that online language learning will become more dynamic and more responsive to students’ needs. And it is worth taking this into account when creating offers for the next semesters for your students 🙂