WeChat and Zoom – excellent lockdown tools for English learners in bilingual classes

Learner Stories

Lynn Ding says it’s been a new experience teaching online classes via two platforms – WeChat and Zoom. “It makes my teaching more effective for low-level learners.”

Lynn’s one of English Language Partner’s bilingual teachers. She works with foundation-level learners – using both Mandarin and English to assist her teaching.

“On one hand, WeChat ensures input for all learners in class, and after class they can access the teaching materials at any time. On the other hand, Zoom provides learners with opportunities for practice with Hester, our volunteer.”

Hester Neary been helping Lyn out in her North Shore classes. Hester’s a trained ESOL home tutor who’s also bilingual: Dutch being Hester’s other language.

The pair work with foundation-level learners and Zoom and WeChat have ensured classes happen during our COVID times.

Lynn and Hester meet once a week on Zoom to prepare and practise scenarios for the online lessons, where learners also do their ‘real-life’ practise.

Sound bites are developed together and recorded so learners can listen and practise in their own time. Lynn shares these on WeChat, her preferred platform for creating teaching activities and making worksheets available to learners. She says it’s a great way for learners to access teaching materials at any time.

The two teaching modes complement each other well. “WeChat is convenient for learners to self-study repeatedly after class; Zoom focuses on oral English practice,” says Lynn.

Both Lynn and Hestor say it’s been fantastic to be able to easily switch to online platforms for lesson preparation and as a teaching space.

With 26 attendees in her classes, Lynn’s a sought-after teacher. Learner Wenchao Guo says Lynn “plays an important role: like a bridge for learners’ communication with Hestor, our Kiwi teacher.” Wenchao Guo says this motivates enthusiasm for learning and helps with English use in daily life.

“This is my first time attending an English class. I was under pressure because I am an old low-level learner.” – Chunlong Zhang, learner

“Now I feel much relaxed because of the learning in class and talking with the Kiwi teacher via Zoom.”

Chunlong Zhang says teaching via WeChat is convenient for older people with poor memories as they can read and write repeatedly.

Lynn’s thrilled lessons have been going so smoothly and says all her learners have managed to practise dialogues together online. “It’s also fantastic everyone has the opportunity to talk with Hester online too!”

“You can see how happy my learners are!” says Lynn. “I enjoy working with Hester. She’s a real professional.”

(Quotes from learners have been translated from Chinese.)

Using two platforms to split teaching – how Lynn Ding does it

From 10 am to 10.30 am on Tuesday mornings, my learners practise speaking and listening with our Kiwi volunteer Hester via Zoom; meanwhile, I support them when needed and note down some specific points that Hester and I need to work on in our next lesson.

From 10.30 am to 12 pm on Tuesday mornings and from 10 am to 12 pm on Thursday mornings, I teach learners new language points via WeChat in the following steps.

  1. I give them an audio material and ask them to tell me the words in any sequence, which they hear while listening with their own smartphones.
  2. I give them the picture of the transcript and ask them to find out the words that they can recognize with their eyes but not with their ears; then, I ask them to work on the pronunciations of those words.
  3. I give them a series of pictures, like the slides of PowerPoint, which include the literal translation of each word and free translation of the whole sentences in the transcript.
  4. I teach, explain, and expand the language points in the transcript via voice messages. Meanwhile, I can respond to learners’ questions.
  5. I train learners to use modelled reading and shadow reading to facilitate their comprehension, intonation, and pronunciation. Finally, I encourage learners to read or even recite the transcript to me in or after the class
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