Teaching a general English lesson online – a video walkthrough

Teaching a general English lesson online – a video walkthrough

So, you've given a trial online English lesson with a prospective student and they want you to continue classes with you. Yay!

They tell you they want general English and are happy for you to choose the theme. 

Great. But what then?

  • Which kind of themes work well?
  • How might you structure a general English class?

Well, for a tried and tested framework for a general English online class, look no further. We’ve got a super online English lesson outline you can use.
It's good for a lesson with a new or existing pre-intermediate plus student. 

Watch below as online teaching expert Louisa Walsh takes you through each step in her video walkthrough.

Outline for a general English one-to-one online class:

Stage 1. First two minutes

Have a simple, general chat to ease your student into speaking English and make them feel comfortable. 

Top tip: use open questions that encourage your student to speak.

Stage 2: Lead-in to the theme

You want to warm your student into the theme, generate ideas and useful vocabulary. A picture is often a great intro.


  • What is happening?
  • What can you see?
  • What is going on?

Louisa has chosen holiday destinations as her theme, which is a great choice as it is universal - everyone has something to say about it.

Stage 3: The study and practice (or the "meat" of the lesson)

This is often based around a listening, reading, or very short video. In her recording below, Louisa has found YouTube footage of three people talking about their favourite holiday destination and why they like it. Before pressing play, she reminds you to do two things:

  1. teach any new vocabulary you think they need to know from the listening
  2. instruct them to do something simple while listening.

In the recording, Louisa asks her student to make notes on the holiday destinations they hear.

You can play all the way through or play and pause, stopping at key points. Check understanding by asking questions about what they have seen and heard.
Tip: If you are using Zoom, remember to check the share sound box when sharing a video or listening online, as well as share screen box.

Stage 4: Extend by personalising

Ask questions like: What is your favourite holiday destination? Tell me about your last holiday? If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? This is important so students can practise expressing their experiences. If you can encourage them to use new vocabulary from the lesson, this is a bonus.

Stage 5: Review and feedback

It’s a good idea to put new vocabulary, phrases, and corrections in the chat box throughout the lesson. The end of the lesson is a good time to review all of this – just keep it moving.

Finally, be sure to tell your students what they’ve done well. Everyone loves feedback and your student will leave enthused, on a high, and looking forward to the next class.

You might also like:

Become a 5 star online English teacher >>
Louisa can show you how in her dedicated coaching programme for new and prospective online English teachers
* Setting up as an independent online English teacher >>
* Learn how to make your online English profile stand out on italki, Preply or Verbling >>

  • Author: William Bradridge
  • Date: 07/07/2021

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Teaching a general English lesson online – a video walkthrough