How often do you Google something that you don’t know?

  • What is “COVID”?
  • How do you say, “I love you” in French?
  • “The best Banana bread recipe”

These are all examples of microlearning.

Put simply, microlearning is a skill-based approach to learning that delivers information in small, digestible chunks.

Which of these options do you think your students would prefer?

A. Reading a static textbook and listening to a CD. No interaction. No sense of accomplishment.
B. Watching a one-minute animated video, getting immediate feedback on a quiz, moving forward on a progress line, and earning a digital badge.



In a nutshell, the average learner cannot focus for long and is used to consuming bite-sized pieces of content in shorter bursts of time. They are easily distracted and become bored and disinterested quickly. Microlearning keeps students moving forward with bite-sized steps towards clear goals.

Technology is changing how we process information and interact with people

Have you ever been out for dinner and noticed how others are texting, checking, scrolling, liking, tweeting… and well, not paying attention to you and others around them?

Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Data from Statistic Brain shows that in the year 2000, the human attention span was 12 seconds. In 2015, it declined to just 8.25 seconds.

This is precisely why people prefer information that is short and to the point. It’s also why they perform better and will continue to be motivated when they feel they have completed something.

The microlearning format is well suited to the 21st-century learner as it offers the flexibility and convenience of self-paced learning. Self-paced learning is being able to learn something when and where you want and at your own pace.

Microlearning content types include vocabulary flashcards, short and entertaining videos, listening exercises and reading passages and digital quizzes.

Interactive Flashcards

It also includes presentations, tutorials, assessments and short online lessons.

How long should a micro lesson be?

As the name implies, microlearning is short and fast. Though there are no rules regarding how long a typical micro lesson is, as a general rule an entire micro lesson shouldn’t be more than 15 minutes long.

Lessons should be broken down into objectives and each objective should be broken down into steps. This will keep students focused and feeling that they are making progress and moving forward. They will also know where they left off since the lesson is broken down into chunks.

Learning in stretches of 3-7 minutes matches the working memory capacity and attention of humans. This is the ideal time that it should take to complete a step towards an objective.

If steps are any longer than this, students will become bored and disinterested in the material.

Lessons should be as long as necessary and not a second more!

What types of activities should my lessons include?

It’s good to mix it up so students are processing content and practicing all 4 skills. Transition between skills so that they are reading for a minute or two, listening for a minute or two, speaking and/or writing for a minute or two, etc. This will help improve all of the important skillsets and their overall ability.

We are not wired to maintain focus for long periods of time. Learning in short bursts, and using different modalities (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) will keep students focused, entertained and interested.


Each objective should provide a specific task and goal for the student to achieve.

Students will lose motivation without a sense of accomplishment. Microlearning gives students a sense of accomplishment as they make steady progress towards their goals. Progress lines, and micro interactions will help keep students motivated to keep learning.

Why is microlearning more efficient?

Students can access the lesson material when they are ready and when they have time.

Lesson materials are broken down into small bite-sized chunks and students are less likely to be distracted and “lose their place”. – This makes comprehension easier and retention more likely.

The feeling of making progress and moving forward helps students maintain their motivation and they are more likely to continue learning where they left off. On the other hand if a course isn’t broken down into steps and objectives and students don’t have any sense of accomplishment, they are less likely to come back and resume where they left off.

It’s the easiest, quickest and most efficient way to learn something.

Storytelling can help your students learn English more effectively and efficiently. It’s a powerful tool to improve English vocabulary, listening, reading, grammar, and speaking.

Stories are effective educational tools because they are believable, memorable and entertaining. 

Listening to, reading and telling stories have been the core of humanity for thousands of years. 

There are countless reasons why storytelling is such a powerful tool to help students learn English.

Storytelling for English learners

Here are eight reasons storytelling is such a powerful tool to learn English.

1. Storytelling is simple. Without breaking stories down into their components and grammatical structures, stories are simple. 

2. The art of storytelling is timeless. We’ve been doing it for thousands of years! 

3. Stories are demographic proof – regardless of age, race or gender, everyone likes to listen to stories. Every generation and culture tell stories. 

4. Stories are contagious – they can spread like wildfire. People tell and retell stories. Social media is making this even more so. 

5. Easier to remember –  we are much more likely to remember something that is told in context than a random fact or piece of information. 

Gerome Brooner  – facts are 20 times more likely to be remembered if they are part of a story.

Peg Newhouser – learning derived from a story is remembered far more accurately and for far longer than other learning. 

6. Stories inspire – Have you ever heard a student say, “wow, you’ll never believe the wonderful new grammatical structure I just learned today!” Probably NOT!

But you have heard people say that about stories. 

7. Stories appeal to all types of learners – in any group roughly 40% will be predominantly visual learners who learn best through videos, diagrams or illustrations. Another 40% will be auditory learning best through lectures, listening exercises and discussions. 

The remaining 20% are kinesthetic who learn best by doing, experiencing or feeling.

8. Storytelling has aspects for all 3 types of learners:

Visual learners appreciate the mental pictures that storytelling evokes

Auditory learners focus on the words and the storytellers voice

Kinesthetic learners remember the feelings and emotions attached to the story.

Storytelling creates curiosity – we are more receptive and curious about the information that we are given

It’s becoming increasingly more challenging to convert a trial lesson into a paying student.Thousands of students take English every day, but there are thousands of teachers to choose from. As online teaching becomes more popular, it will become even more challenging to be the chosen one.

On most platforms, students can take up to 3 trial lessons to select the teacher that’s right for them. This means finding a teacher that suits their learning style and that they feel confident will help them achieve their goals. 

In order to convert your trial lesson into a paying student you have to demonstrate that you have a plan for them. You have to convert them into a paying student by identifying their weak points and explaining how you will help overcome them. 

How can you convert your trial lesson into a paying student? 

In order to convert a trial lesson into a paying student you need to create a positive and professional first impression. 

What does that mean exactly?  

To start with, that includes accurately assessing their level and convincing them that you know how to and will get them to their goal. 

In order to maximize the chances that you’ll convert your trial lesson into a paying customer, be prepared with the following:

1. Be prepared with a set of questions and tasks

2. Print the following on a piece of paper

3. Take detailed notes during the assessment

4. Create goals

5. Give the student an action plan

The following questions are meant to guide you during your student assessment. Use the Interview Assessment Guide along with these questions. 

Online English Assessment Checklist

An online English Assessment checklist 

1. Initiation and follow up

  • Do they ask you questions to find out more details? 
  • Are they asking you questions that show comprehension of what you have already said? 
  • Are the questions that they are asking logical? 

For example: 

Teacher: I’m really into music. 

Student: What kind of music?


Teacher: I’m really into music? 

Student: It’s nice.

2. Expanding and elaborating 

  • Do they use conjunctions? Sequencers?
  • What conjunctions/sequencers are they using? 


Beginner: but, and, because, or 

Intermediate: Sequencers (first, then, next, finally), conjunctions: as well as

Advanced: furthermore, despite, in spite of, nevertheless

Note: This is just a general guideline and examples of what you can give feedback on. 

For example, “I noticed that you use basic conjunctions to connect your thoughts (and, but, because). 

We’ll work on using more advanced connectors to expand your thoughts so that you state your opinion more clearly and concisely.”

ESL Listening comprehension Assessment

3. Have they understood your question correctly? 

  • How accurate is their listening? 
  • Did they respond to the question you asked or did they misunderstand the question completely? 
  • Did they misunderstand the question because of a sound? Word? Idiom or expression?  
  • Did they require repetition? How often? 
  • Did they ask for clarification or for you to repeat yourself? 

4. Are they making full sentences? 

  • Do they reply with short one-word answers? 
  • Are they using full sentences? 
  • Do they reply in full sentences appropriately and naturally? (There are often times in English that replying with a full sentence including subject, verb, object, etc. is not natural)

5. Pronunciation, intonation, rhythm, and pace

  • Do they speak with an accent that clearly shows that they’re from (insert native country here)?
  • Are they speaking flatly or showing excitement, disappointment, etc.? Do they speak too slowly, too fast? 
Idioms for English learners

6. Word Choice

  • Do they force words? (Try to use words to sound like they have a bigger vocabulary)
  • Do they use words with similar meaning but in the wrong context? 
  • Are they using idioms and collocations? 
  • Collocations are words that go together naturally. 

For example, fast car and not quick car. 

Others: light sleeper, early riser, to make the bed, to do homework, 

Tense switching

7. Tenses

  • Are they showing accuracy with present simple vs. present continuous? 
  • Past simple vs. past continuous? 
  • Future with “will” and future with “going to”?
  • Conditional 1, Conditional 2 and Conditional 3
  • Are they sticking to using one tense (for example, always speaking in the present) 
  • Are they switching between past present and future? 
  • Are they switching between tenses accurately? 

8. Body language

Whether your lessons are in person or remote, body language is important. 

Covid has made it even more important to be aware of your background and body language.

  • Are they slouching? 
  • Do they look at the camera? 
  • Are they moving and aware of their hand gestures? 


  • Do they make false starts? (They start a sentence and then start over again)
  • Do they repeat your question? (An indication that they’re translating into their own language)
  • Do they require you to speak at a slower than normal pace? 
  • Do they show interest in what you are saying? How? 
  • Do they use appropriate reactions? 
  • Do they use pauses, fillers, and hesitation devices?
    Umm.. Uh… let me see… how can I say…? 

To learn more about how you should structure your online assessment, check out this blog. 

Assessing English language learners properly will help you attract and keep them in the long run. Teaching English online is getting more popular every day. The appeal of working from home, choosing your own hours, and generating extra income are just a few of the reasons it’s becoming such a popular choice.

However the more popular it becomes, the more competitive it’s becoming for English teachers. There are a lot of teachers registered on sites, but not everyone is having the same luck in getting and retaining students. Assessing your students properly and creating goals will help you turn them into long-term students.

You need to have a system in place or you won’t build your student base. 

Performing a quality assessment or needs analysis for students learning English is something that will help you be more successful in getting students to sign up for your lessons.

In past blogs we’ve touched on a few of the more important things in creating a great first impressions. Here’s a quick recap: 

  • set clear goals with your students
  • Follow the 80/20 rule: Your students should be talking 80% of the time and you 20%
  • Give them quality feedback 
  • Talk about things that they’re interested in
teaching English online needs analysis

Make the most of your first impression with a quality student assessment

The first impression you make will either convince your prospective student to sign up for your lessons… or look for a better English teacher.

Your lessons are not about you. 

What do I mean by this?

As much as I’m sure they’d love to get to know you, that’s not why they signed up for lessons. 

Let me also add as a side note: that also doesn’t mean you should be all about business either! 

It’s important to be friendly and smile, be aware of your body language, manner, and not just what you say but also what you don’t say. At the same time, you need to find the right balance between business and fun. 

Create a sheet with the following headings: 

  1. Introductions
  2. Purpose & Goals
  3. Strengths & Weaknesses
  4. Teacher-Student Connection (this is where you need to win them over with your personality. Be friendly, funny (but not inappropriate) and professional. 

The following section is a breakdown of these key things.

student needs analysis for teaching English online

How to perform a quality assessment of a student’s English level

Take the first 10 minutes and ask them to talk about themselves and what they’re interested in. 

Make a list of questions in advance that start simple and get progressively more challenging. 

Keep them talking and make sure that you’re taking notes of mistakes and things that they need to work on. Your needs analysis is not a lesson, so don’t go into teacher mode. You should be in the assessment mode.

 If they’re more advanced students they’ll ask you questions as well. That’s great, but keep your answers short. Remember you are evaluating them and it’s an assessment. 

What’s their purpose and goal? 

needs analysis for learning English

Ask them questions questions about why they want to learn English. 

What do they want to achieve? By when? 

Ask them questions about their North Star, mid-term and short term goals. 

Assess your students strengths and weaknesses

Ask them to evaluate themselves on what they feel their weaknesses are and where they lack confidence.

This should be organized and you should be able to quickly put together a summary and relate it to your notes. 

Remember to take notes that will help you create a summary and needs analysis. 

Encourage them to ask you questions 

Allow them to ask you questions. Don’t ramble on, and remember this is about them not about you.

Answer the questions and smile, but tell them in a very fun and professional way that the assessment is because you are determined to help them reach their goals so you hope to address any and all their questions about you in future lessons. 

And finally …

Summarize your notes using the checklists. 

Explain that you’ll follow up with a detailed action plan of how you’ll help them reach their goals.

Praise them for their effort and identify 3 key things that they did awesomely. Add 2 things that you will help them with, and tell them you’ll send them a follow up within the next hour (prompt follow ups will keep them motivated).

Ask them how they feel and if they think you are correct in your student assessment of their weaknesses and areas for improvement. As long as you are showing them examples of what they said, they will agree with you. This is why you must write it down. 

Getting them to say “yes” here will get you 80% in the door. 

Having a template for the student assessment and needs analysis will help you to look professional, make a clear plan with actionable goals and create a positive first impression. If you do all of these things, you are 80% of the way there. 

Good luck! 

The time has come – or rather it was hastened  by a pandemic – but in any case, a digital transformation in education has arrived.

Many teachers are needing to be quick studies, as they discover new tools and methods to streamline teaching and administration. And in doing so, many are coming to understand the power of a hybrid approach. Some of the biggest advantages of online course delivery are flexibility and the availability of options. This is where Synchronous and Asynchronous classes come in to play. Which method to use, and when, can make all the difference for a successful outcome for both teachers and students.

What are Synchronous and Asynchronous classes?

For synchronous classes, the instructor and the students are present online at the same time and in direct communication. Teachers instruct through video or audio conferencing, or live chat. The lectures and discussions are at a fixed time and students can only access the lecture if they are present online at the time it takes place.

Asynchronous classes refer to classes where the instructor and the students are not present online at the same time. The instructor uploads material, lectures, and assignments to a designated portal that students can access anytime, and from anywhere. 

Both synchronous and asynchronous classes have advantages and disadvantages. Let’s dive in and cover some so that you can make a decision as to when to use what method.

Synchronous classes


– Interactive sessions

-Immediate answers to their questions

-Easier sharing of ideas between student and instructor,  or among students

-More in-depth instructions

-Spontaneity and flexibility in lectures

In synchronous classes students and teachers can interact, ask questions, and present ideas spontaneously. For example, teachers may ask students to have a conversation about what they did on the weekend or present something to show they understand how to use vocabulary and expressions in context. The instructor can give them immediate feedback and the student can feel motivated and connected to their teacher.


-Rigid time constraints

-Dependent on connectivity and bandwidth

Unfortunately, synchronous classes can be a problem for students who have a hard time logging on at a certain time, or who have poor internet connectivity. And slow learners may find it difficult to grasp concepts during synchronous classes. 

Asynchronous classes


-Flexibility: time and pace

-Less chances of technical problems

-Less formal compared to synchronous classes

-Immediately informed of digital quiz results


-Lack of real-time interaction

-Difficulty in staying on track or meeting deadlines

-Delayed feedback with some tasks

Asynchronous classes are convenient for students who struggle to attend online classes. They allow them to work at their own pace and on their own time. In asynchronous classes, the instructor assigns vocabulary, listening, reading, writing tasks, etc., and the students can complete the work any time prior to the deadline. There is, however, a chance that they will procrastinate and try to complete all the work right at the deadline. Other important things to point out are:

1. The instructor only provides feedback after the assignments are submitted

2. There are no real-time question-answer sessions

Pocket Passport provides teachers with tools to create extremely fun and interactive lessons and courses. And they can use materials and resources  for both synchronous and asynchronous learning. Teachers can share illustrations to initiate conversations, show a video, assign tasks in breakout rooms, and a lot more.

Pocket Passport’s lesson and course builder gives teachers options to create bite-sized lessons that students can complete on their own time. It also gives educators tools to gamify lessons with badges and stamps as they achieve lesson and course objectives.


The best results come from using a combination of both synchronous and asynchronous classes. It’s important to provide students with real-time feedback and opportunities to practice the language on one hand. On the other, it essential to provide fun and engaging materials to acquire new vocabulary and expressions, practice listening, reading, and writing. When done properly there is unlimited potential to maximize students learning. 

Just like many things in life, good things come to those who wait.

And that definitely is the case with the software that we have been hard at work developing over the last 6 years.

In short:

We love teaching and we are crazy about technology.

We would rather spend our time teaching what we know students need than wasting time guessing.

We make looking at and analyzing data easy, effective and fun. Not confusing and dull.

We have combined our favorite things to make teachers, students, administrator’s and school owner’s lives easier and more productive.

Don’t get me wrong. We aren’t finished and we still have a long way to go. This is just the beginning.

The traditional classroom has arguably been one of the slowest things to adapt and progress with technology.

Over the last 5 years especially I have heard numerous stories how many schools in Japan and all over the world are equipping students with tablets and computers with the very false assumption that this will in and of itself revolutionize the classroom.

NOTHING could be further from the truth. And I am not even sure it’s a step in the right direction.

Without a sound platform teachers and students alike will be left uninspired and at a loss.

Enter Pocket Passport.

We are confident that our tools and resources will make all aspects of teaching and learning more effective, efficient and fun.

We look forward to continuously adding tools that match the times.

Follow this blog if you are looking for ways to make a difference in the classroom. We will be sharing tips, thoughts and insights into how to effectively incorporate technology in the classroom.