English for ESL Teachers
For many English teachers the idea of teaching English online can be both a novel and daunting prospect. Being an English language Skype teacher as a career choice is a rather knew option for language tutors, but I believe it is fair to say that it is the future, especially in terms of business English, as well as exam and job interview preparation English. The benefits do far outweigh any of the drawbacks and this article intends to outline them and explain why teachers of English should seriously consider adding the online teaching of students into their schedule, whether on a part time or full time basis.
The major benefit of online English training for students:
Before we go into the reasons why teachers should get involved in teaching English via Skype, I thought it might be useful to consider the main benefit to students whom choose online English classes rather than a face to face language trainer. ELTS student base is generally made up of many professional people who have an incredibly busy schedule. Moreover, their timetable frequently changes, often daily, without them being able to anticipate it. From personal experience, I'm acutely aware of how many English classes are missed as a result of things coming up in the office which interfere with the planned English class time for that week. The major problem with face to face lessons is that there is no flexibility for students as the English teacher doesn't have the ability to be flexible, because they too have a rigid diary given to them by their private English school. Herein lies the huge benefit for students in undertaking an online English course as it opens up the possibility for learners to do their classes at any time (day or night), through the working week or on the weekend, and most importantly, with the option of moving classes at very short notice if something comes up during their working day.
So what are the benefits for teachers?
Maximizing their earning potential is perhaps one of the biggest pros due to the fact that there is zero travel time involved, so they are able to maximize the amount of money they can earn each day. Typically, when working for a private English language school a large percentage of your day is spent on public transport moving from office to office and this is something which they are very rarely compensated for. Teaching English via Skype offers teachers the opportunity to cut this often stressful and tiresome part of the job out of the equation and simply focus on class preparation and delivering quality English classes. It cannot be underestimated the amount of energy which is drained out of you when using public transport systems frequently in hot and cold weather conditions with all of your material and lap top in tow. Teaching online takes away any need to travel to your students and brings the classroom to your home.
Paperless classes are another example of a major benefit of Skype teaching. Ask any teacher and they will tell you that the monotony of having to photocopy material for their students day after day is incredibly repetitive and time consuming. I have been in many staff rooms where teachers are queuing to use the photocopier machine and it can almost seem like the end of the world when they breakdown. Not only do teachers need to prepare the material for the class, but they also need to take registers for the students to sign and to record what was done during the lesson. This couldn't be more different to the online teaching world where all exercises and homework can simply be attached to an email, while all lessons are recorded through a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM). A CRM system provides the teachers at ELTS with a comprehensive reference for all of the classes they have completed, as well as the specific detail in terms of what was taught.
Flexibility is, as we mentioned earlier in the article, a major benefit for students, but it is equally one of the most attractive aspects for teachers of English, as it enables them to fit in some of their daily household tasks which they would ordinarily need to do on evenings once they had returned home from their face to face teaching. Being able to pop to the super market to do the weekly food shop, whilst everyone else is in the office, and having the scope to pick up their children from school on a daily basis are possibilities brought about by teaching English online. Teachers' timetables are not dictated to them by a private English language school, in fact, teachers are able to pick and choose their classes to suit their lifestyle and commitments. Teachers are able to have a discussion with their students to work out the most suitable time each week for their English classes. The class time doesn't necessarily need to be rigid as students very often appreciate flexibility, so it may be the case that lesson times can move each week to suit both parties. This is simply unheard of in the face to face English world and highlights why more and more teachers are turning to teaching online English classes as a career choice.
The length of classes are considerably shorter when teaching via Skype in comparison to lessons conducted in person. ELTS offer 45 minute English lessons as standard, whereas in-company based lessons are often an hour to two hours long. In many instances, the length of in-company classes are decided by the companies' Human Resources Department without any real consultation taking place with the students. This can frequently have negative effects due to the time pressures faced by the employees in terms of their day to day activities. In my experience, classes can be cut short on regular basis as a result of student's work commitments changing at the drop of a hat which leads to a lot of lost English time, as well as a loss of financial investment from the companies' perspective. In-company English classes tend to be much more expensive than Skype English classes and they more often than not produce less value for money. There's no question than teaching English online is both the most flexible and cost effective option for companies and their employees.
A committed student base is certainly another big benefit of teaching English students online. Unlike in-company courses where the students make no financial commitment themselves, and in some cases, are obligated to attend, an English course through ELTS will always have a dedicated student as they have taken the time to search for our business and invested money out of their own pocket to pay for their course. As such, students are incredibly reliable and motivated to learn which presents our English teachers with a great opportunity to deliver engaging classes to a very willing audience.
A more relaxed student is frequently the case for Skype English lessons as pupils are in the comfort of their own home and outside of their working environment which can often be stressful and a constant distraction during in-company business English classes. Furthermore, it is not unusual for a face to face class to be made up of managers and their team members. This can have a very negative effect on students who do not feel comfortable or confident speaking English in front of their bosses. In fact, it generally leads to the most senior individual dominating the English class in terms of speaking time as the other students students are fearful of embarrassing themselves in front of him or her. A private online English class provides students with a sanctuary to express themselves in English without being concerned about having their manager present. Familiar surroundings, such as a student's home office, allows them to be completely relaxed and fully concentrated on what their English teacher is asking of them, as well as the task in hand.
Skype functionality is a further benefit for teachers especially in respect to the screen share function, as it allows both the teacher and student to be literally on the same page, so no confusion is caused during the online English class. Exam preparation is a big part of the online teaching world which means much focus needs to be placed on essay writing skills and technique. In this respect, the screen sharing function is invaluable as it enables teachers to highlight specific areas of a student's essay in order to improve their overall ability in this area of their exam, whether it be IELTS or one of the other Cambridge exams.
If you are considering an online English teaching career, but are feeling a little apprehensive about what it entails, please feel free to get in touch with us at ELTS and we'll be happy to answer any questions you might have. In the meantime, why not take a look at some of the courses we offer to our student base, so that you are aware of all of the teaching possibilities.