Real English® Blog Feed

Thursday, November 28, 2013

I finally figured out how to help online ESL students to help themselves. some reason or other, the Real English® Facebook page has gone slightly viral, with an average of 9,000 new likes per day over the past 6 weeks. It's a high quality page (he said modestly), but I have noticed that there are also mediocre ESL pages which suddenly go viral - with many more new likes per day than my own. I would google the phenomenon, but it would take too much time. Moreover, the title of this post is based upon the need to manage time more effectively.

When I noticed an increase in traffic on my main site a few weeks ago, I noticed that this increase always took place the day after posting a few choice tidbits, including original quizzes and other interactive activities on the FB page, so I began to take Facebook more seriously.

And then the problems began. I was suddenly spending many hours on the FB page, and didn't even find time to edit my new cool video footage to make new clips and then new lessons. The time was spent wisely on the FB page only in the sense that I was giving personal attention to almost every member who had a request, i.e. they loved the personal attention. But from the point of view of time management, it had become disastrous.

isastrous in the sense that hundreds of students were asking me questions which showed that they didn't have a clue about helping themselves to the free information available on the web.  

I was stunned at first. I thought that the kids knew how to use the web better than old guys like myself. In any case, I changed my strategy, simply by giving the following type of advice to students who ask for specific info. In this case, the definition of a simple word:

"Hello ____ , it would be a very good idea to learn how to use online dictionaries. First of all, to get useful results more quickly, students of English should use the ENGLISH GOOGLE search site at:
For definitions, type "free dictionary" in the search box. Look at the results. You must choose the first result at the top: Then type [the word you are looking for]".

Despite the relatively natural language of my replies, students understand the written word much more easily than the spoken (of course!), and are able to find what they are looking for on their own. I now have 6 models of replies which I copy and paste, covering about 80% of requests for different types of information, and only have to write truly personalized replies to approximately 20% of the students who contact me on Facebook. Today I was able to take care of all the FB business in only one hour, leaving me free to continue video editing for the rest of the day.

I honestly don't know if this is all terribly obvious to all online teachers, or if someone might benefit from my observations and new practices.


  1. You are more than great.. Thanks a lot for every single minute you spend on spreading the benefits to both teachers and students.. Keep it up.. Please and thanks a million for this fantastic page

  2. I am so happy to stay at his page. It is so interesting and helpfull