How to Build Rapport with Your Online Students

Although I teach Thai students offline and online, there are many differences in my approach to teaching. Whatever mode you teach, it is really important that you build rapport with your students. No matter how good a teacher is, if they do not know how to connect with a student, they will not be effective. As you know, every student is different. You need to make your students feel that learning English is not something to be anxious about. Below are some of my techniques for creating rapport even though you only see your student through a webcam.


  • Do an ice breaker.


Aside from doing self introductions, you should have a simple and short ice breaker. Children have short attention spans, so it is important that you can get their attention right away. What I do in my class is I ask a simple question such as “How are you?” Your questions depend on your student’s level of course. Another option you have is to complement your student. You can say something about your student’s shirt or a toy you seen on the background. They will definitely appreciate it. The easy and almost never fail option is to sing a popular and easy English song together.

sing a song with your English gang students


  • Say your student’s name.


You do not need to mention your student’s name right after every sentence. From time to time, you can use your student’s name to let them know that you are really and truly focused on them. This makes your students feel that you can remember basic details about them, and puts a bit of a spotlight on them.


  • Make sure that you enjoy what you are doing.


Children can sense if you like teaching them or not. Your positive energy can be transferred to your student. As a result, both of you will suffer in class since you are just waiting for the class to end.


  • Smile.


In Thailand, the smile is important, especially when it comes to teaching ESL to children in Thailand. I think a smile is a powerful tool when you try to build a harmonious relationship with any person. In my case, when I show my pearly whites, my students seem to be more at ease and energetic. It is safe to say that a smile can do a lot in your classes with young Thai learners.

Thai smile for your English students
Happy Enough?!



You should always keep in mind that many of your students will be studying English with you for the first time. Thus, they will likely have difficulty understanding you. One tip I can share is to speak slowly and breathe deeply when you are starting to lose your patience. Use the link above for many more tips on being patient while being an ESL teacher.


  • Show interest.


Showing that you care and that you are interested is one way to make your students feel comfortable with you. If your student shows a toy, do not ignore it. Give a short comment and move forward with your lesson. It is not advisable to make a big deal on every detail about your student since it will consume much of your class time. A simple acknowledgment will do. Remember to keep the class moving!


  • Do not give up.


When you meet new people, you do not instantly become close with all of them, right? This also holds true for online ESL students. There are some who become comfortable with you easily, but there are also some who need more time. If your student does not smile back or seems uneasy in class, do not stop trying. Eventually, they will feel relaxed.


It is not really hard to have rapport with online students if you genuinely have the passion to teach. Everything falls into place when you are positive in class. Follow the suggestions given, and I am sure that your students will book another English Gang class with you again!

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