We discuss the best headsets for online ESL teachers and what to look for
Best Headsets for Online ESL Teachers
A quality headset for online ESL teachers is going to mean the difference between an okay class where you hear most of what your students say and an amazing class where you hear and correct every mistake that they make. Find out which headsets you should be using in your online ESL classes.
Why do I need a quality headset?
You were just hired to work for one of the many online ESL companies out there. They passed you for the interview. They passed you for the technical check. Now you’ve got your computer set up and you are ready to teach. But maybe not just yet. If you plan on using just a normal set of headphones that you might wear when you take your morning jog you could be doing a serious disservice to your students. While the headphones you use may be perfect for listening to Spotify with, they may leave a lot to be desired and could leave you having trouble hearing your students during your online ESL classes.
The solution to this is a quality headset and even better a headset with a quality microphone on it. The difference between the two is that most headphones people use are of the in-ear variety and even if you paid for a medium quality pair still aren’t going to match the abilities of a quality headset in delivering the perfect sound to you. There’s a reason most headphones only run ten to twenty dollars for the lower priced ones and in the forties and fifties for higher quality types. That’s because the emphasis on these headphones is for active users so they are made with the idea that they will probably need to be replaced within a few months to a year. Lower end headphones just aren’t made to last. So, while they will probably work for your online ESL classes, they will also leave you asking on many occasions for your students to repeat what they said because it came out dull or distorted or you just couldn’t hear them well enough.
A good headset is going to solve this problem entirely. To put this in comparison, your average in-ear headphones are like the first color TV’s on the market in terms of the quality of the product they produce. A good studio quality headset is more like a shiny new OLED TV with all the bells and whistles. The difference is that noticeable. A headset is also going to be more comfortable over time as it goes over your ears instead of inside your ears potentially causing infections (this is the reason I switched over to a headset personally) and hearing loss.
What should I look for when purchasing a headset?
The most important thing when looking to buy a headset for online ESL teaching is comfort. You’re going to be using this for two or more hours straight potentially seven days a week if you choose to work that much. You need to make sure that the headset is going to fit you well and isn’t going to rub on your ears or head in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. After that, you need to look for fit. Does it squeeze too tight? Does it fall to the front or back because it is too loose? Probably not the right headset for you. After comfort has been accounted for you need to take a look at what features are going to be best for the purpose of online ESL teaching. For that, the primary factors are going to be noise cancellation as well as a high-quality unidirectional microphone if you choose to purchase a headset with a microphone. You want to make sure to use a unidirectional microphone as this is going to pick up your voice without picking up other things such as fans or air conditioners or traffic noises. This is because a unidirectional microphone picks up sounds coming from only one direction as opposed to an omnidirectional microphone which picks up sounds coming from all sides equally. I do not prefer to have a headset with a microphone as it sometimes can cause feedback with the noise coming from the headset itself should you be a loudspeaker like me or turn your headphone volume up too loud.
You can also look between a Bluetooth or wired headset so that you don’t have to worry about getting tangled in the wire if you are animated in your teaching style. The principal thing to remember here is that if you go for extended periods of time teaching then you are probably going to run out of battery power on the headset and will need to keep the wire as a backup. Most wireless (Bluetooth) headsets will have the option to plug the headset in using a standard 3.5mm jack.
What are the best headsets for online ESL teaching?
- The ClearChat Pro is going to be an optimal solution if you need a headset with a microphone. Especially if the current microphone you have isn’t up to par this unidirectional noise-canceling microphone is going to be more than enough to do the job.
- The microphone is on an adjustable boom which will make it easier for users with different sized heads to use this as they will be able to easily adjust the microphone position.
- You can easily adjust the volume from the headset with the simple touch of a button on the right side of the headset. This will save you time instead of having to use a hotkey on your laptop or desktop computer to adjust the volume.
- Because this is a headset with a microphone there are more parts to potentially break down. One problem that these types of headsets are known to have is the microphone breaking while the headset itself still works. This is a problem with all microphone headsets.
- Some users with larger ears have reported that this product doesn’t fit over their ears and instead tends to fit on the ears. This can be uncomfortable for many users so if you have larger ears or a larger head the be aware of this.
- While the volume control is conveniently located it can be easy to mute yourself as the mute button is in the same place. This can be a problem in the class if you don’t realize you have muted your headset.
- Bluetooth headset so you can move around as much as you want and conduct your lesson in as animated of a fashion as you desire without accidentally unplugging yourself. Another benefit of wireless headsets is that you don’t have to worry about the connector becoming damaged rendering your nice headset useless.
- This Edifier headset has over 20 hours of continuous battery life with over 400 hours of standby time. This means that you most likely aren’t going to run through the battery during classes and won’t have to worry about your headphones dying right in the middle of a lesson.
- The Edifier W855BT comes with a carrying case making it the optimal solution for teachers on the go and able to easily fit in any travel bag you use for carrying your teaching equipment.
- Some users have reported that they have had trouble with the USB connector and audio jack connector that comes with this headset. While this isn’t a major issue as an audio jack can be purchased separately and the headset is wireless it could be an annoyance for some users.
- This specific headset lacks noise cancellation abilities which means that if you choose to use it in a noisy area that you may sometimes have trouble hearing everything perfectly.
- Other problems that some users have reported is that the insulation used with this specific headset is poor and thus allows the noise from the headset itself to seep out. This has the potential to be picked up by your microphone depending on the microphone you use causing minor feedback.
- The Major II headset boasts over 30 hours of continuous playback time which guarantees you aren’t going to run out of battery in the middle of the class and waste valuable teaching time trying to get them plugged in.
- Easily adjustable volume controls on the side of the headphones ensures that you can control things when you have loud students and save your ears from being blown out.
- The Major II comes with the quality assurance that it is a Marshall brand product. Marshall has been in the music business for over 50 years and is used in studios around the world. So, if their products are good enough for professional recording studios they are going to be perfect for teaching ESL online.
- Many users have reported that this specific headset can be a bit small for users with larger heads and larger ears. I have personally used this headset and I can also attest that it fits a bit on my ears instead of fully over. While it wasn’t uncomfortable when I used it some users may find this to be an annoyance.
- Some users have reported having issues when trying to charge these headphones with charging times seeming to take longer than would be expected. Be aware of this and if you do decide to go with this headset make sure that you leave plenty of time to charge the headset before your classes begin.
- The Major II lacks noise cancellation abilities so you may have trouble in a noisy environment.
- The SRH440 comes with a carrying case making it an awesome choice if you know you are going to be traveling quite a bit while teaching ESL online. This also ensures that your headset is going to be protected when not in use.
- The pads on this headset are replaceable which means you won’t have to worry about shelling out the money for a completely new headset just because a few of the parts begin to wear down.
- The SRH440 are isolation earphones which means they are designed to keep sound from seeping out of the headset and potentially being picked up by your microphone. If you like to turn the volume up loud then this could be a good solution as it will help to prevent feedback from ruining your lesson.
- These are not noise canceling headphones which means there is the potential for outside noise to seep into the headset if you are in an environment that has other sounds such as air conditioning or fans or random traffic noises. This may or may not be a problem depending on how easily you can become distracted by random outside noises.
- Some users have reported that the headband can be uncomfortable when wearing the headset for extended periods of time. While comfort is going to be subjective for everyone it definitely needs to be a high priority as you are going to be wearing these for extended periods of time.
- Large ear section which makes this a comfortable option for ESL teachers with a larger head or ears that may be less comfortable with other smaller headsets. The head section also stretches easily to adjust for different sized heads making this a great option for different people.
- Noise isolating which ensures that sounds won’t bleed from the headphones. This is great if you have loud students or if you are a person that likes to turn the volume up high as it ensures that sound won’t emanate from the headphones to your microphone and create feedback which could be disruptive during the lesson.
- Compared to many headsets of this level the H850 is much lower in price. Quality headsets can get very expensive due to the quality of hardware that is being used. Because of this, the price tag on this headset may be more appealing to online ESL teachers on a budget.
- Some users of this headset have reported that certain pieces on the headset are cheaply made and have broken. This is going to be different for each person based on how much wear and tear you put your headset through, however, if you are the type of person that is rough on hardware this may not be the best headset for you.
- The 3.5mm jack on this headset is made to fit only the cord that comes with it due to the way it locks in. As such you will be unable to use other 3.5mm cords with this headset should the cord become damaged or lost and will have to either buy a new headset or find the same cord as a replacement.
- These are not noise canceling headphones and as such may allow outside sounds in when you are using them. This can be a problem if you are the type of person that gets distracted easily.
Which one is best for me?
This is going to be dependent on what you find comfortable and whether you want a wired or wireless headset. My personal recommendation here is the Marshall Major II Bluetooth headphones. Aside from the fact that I have personally used this headset for extended periods of time and believe them to be extremely comfortable, the sound quality is absolutely amazing. I have only used them in a studio setting but I am confident that if I used this headset for an online ESL classroom that I would be able to hear each of the students perfectly. The Major II also gives you the option of using both a wired connection or a wireless connection so you can decide which one is right for you and change if you ever decide you want the opposite. At the end of the day it really is about what you find to be the most comfortable but having a headset for online ESL teaching is going to greatly enhance your class as you are better able to hear and understand your students.