Monday, May 20, 2024
HomeApril 2023Issue 484Teaching EFL online due to Covid

Teaching EFL online due to Covid

A study in China reflects common themes teachers faced around the world

Chinese EFL teachers describe common challenges faced when the Covid pandemic necessitated moving from classroom to online lessons, and how they were able to cope and maintain buoyancy.

Like many teachers all over the world, the nine teachers in this study, aged 30-55, had to rapidly train and move to online teaching, having previously only taught in traditional classroom settings.

Thirty-minute semi-structured interviews were recorded asking about the challenges they faced and how they dealt with them. The interview transcripts then underwent a thematic analysis of the content.

Challenges included difficulties in interacting with students online: interactions were slower, responses were harder to fully assess – and were more often short and/or uninformative.

The move to the online format, being new and requiring ongoing training, made teaching more tiring, and there were recurring technical issues, such as lag and poor connectivity.

Teachers found themselves with a lot of extra work that would normally have been done by school administrative offices, such as daily health registrations and parent queries, as well as new duties such as dealing with WeChat groups.

Work-life balance became a problem, and the boundary between work and home was eroded by teaching online from home: ‘’It was as if I had to be online 24 h a day, replying to messages from school leaders or students.”

This was compounded by students and parents facing the same issues: ‘’In the past, students were at school all day and parents were actually less involved in the school activities. However, now students and parents were under the same roof every day […] sometimes parents came to me when they could not handle their children.’’

On a positive note, teachers coped best when they embraced the necessary training, talked over the challenges with colleagues and got positive feedback from students’ parents: “I usually communicated with my colleagues and found out what stressful events they encountered, and they were willing to tell me about their experiences […] I thought the most important point was to look forward and seek solutions instead of sulking or being frustrated without taking any action.” Sounds like a good strategy for teachers generally – in any context.


  • Liu H, Duan S, Chu W. ‘Unraveling EFL Teacher Buoyancy in Online Teaching: An Ecological Perspective’, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2023; 20(1):613.
Gill Ragsdale
Gill Ragsdale
Gill has a PhD in Evolutionary Psychology from Cambridge, and teaches Psychology with the Open University, but also holds an RSA-Cert TEFL. Gill has taught EFL in the UK, Turkey, Egypt and to the refugees in the Calais 'Jungle' in France. She currently teaches English to refugees in the UK.
- Advertisment -

Latest Posts