Why Skype lessons and how do they work?

Posted on 10/10/2011

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Why learn a language with a Skype tutor?

  • If you travel a lot for work or pleasure, you don’t have to put your language lessons on hold while you do.
  • Unlike, say, the London Underground, using Skype to “travel” to your tutor is free.
  • The lessons can be as short (or as long!) as you like: because the tutor does not have to travel, they can fit in fifteen minutes around their timetable very easily and most will be happy to do so. So if you are on a limited budget, or have limited time, but would still like the occasional opportunity to practise conversation or ask grammar questions, this may be the ideal solution for you.
  • Continuity of tutor: say, for example, you are learning a language prior to moving to another country. You can start having lessons to prepare your move, and seamlessly continue with the same teacher once you are there, without them having to ask you all over again about your language learning history or your goals.
  • Any time, anywhere: If Starbucks inspires you, take your iPad there and savour your Pumpkin Spice Latté as you learn.
  • No trekking out in the rain, for you or the tutor. You’ll therefore both be in a better mood, and more receptive to learning.
  • There is a “chat” facility, where the tutor can type corrections, new vocab, or sentences for you to translate.
So how do they work?
They are almost exactly the same as normal one-to-one lesson, except you are not in the same room as your teacher. Generally, you will pre-book a slot (the same regular slot every week, or on an ad-hoc basis) and then either you or the tutor will initiate the call. (I usually send a Skype message first, to check my students are ready.)
If you are beginner to intermediate level, the chances are you will use a textbook of some kind. You will each have a copy of it, and be reading from the same page. Once you are a higher level, the tutor can send you links to articles which you can read together. And of course, at virtually any level you can also practise conversation this way, just as if you were in a café together.
You can use a webcam, but you don’t have to. It’s useful for you if you can see the tutor’s lips, particularly in the beginning stages when you are learning to form sounds.
Can I give it a try?
Of course! Contact me if you’d like to learn Spanish or French. And if you buy “Conquering Babel“, you’ll get 10% off your first booking, too.
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