How to Teach English as a Foreign Language over Skype

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While the stereotypical teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) teaching situation is in a classroom with a group of learners, it is becoming more and more common to teach English as a foreign language online. When it comes to convenience, not much can top teaching from the comfort of your own home. In fact, if you factor in the time you would normally spend commuting to and from school or in staff meetings or compulsory CPD sessions, you will find you have a lot more time to spend teaching. More time teaching means more money, and who wouldn’t want that?

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Of course, teaching online has its fair share of advantages and disadvantages, just like any other teaching situation. For teachers, online teaching affords you the opportunity to teach as many lessons as you would like and at whatever time suits you. You can reach students all over the world – from Malaysia to Mauritius – which means you may have lessons early in the morning or late at night, if that’s what you prefer. At the same time, you might need to find your own students, your students may not always be reliable and you need to make sure you have a good Internet connection and equipment.

If you have considered all the pros and cons of teaching online and have decided that this is the way you want to go, the next step is to take the plunge and give it a go. There are many companies you can join who will source students for you and provide an online platform for you to use, but this naturally comes with a fee. On the other hand, if you would like to give it a try on your own, Skype is your best option.

Here we’d like to offer a few points to bear in mind to ensure you will teach effective Skype lessons:

Invest in equipment

Obviously you will need a laptop. If you don’t already have one, consider spending a bit of money on one so that you won’t have technical problems with it later. Besides a laptop, you will also need to buy a headset so that your students can hear you clearly. Make sure you have a quiet space where you can have your Skype lessons without interruptions. Make sure your background is neutral and isn’t offensive or distracting.

Read more: 5 Potential Problems in the Online Classroom and Their Solutions

Install Skype

A bit obvious but worth mentioning nonetheless. Install Skype on your computer and do test calls to make sure it’s working properly. Also ensure you know how to use the Skype chat function and how to share screens with your students.

Planning good lessons

Even though you are not in a traditional classroom, this doesn’t mean that you can skimp on lesson planning. There are loads on online resources for you so have a dig around the internet and see what you can find. Don’t only focus on EFL sites – websites of museums or newspapers can be useful, and there’s always Youtube. Once you’ve found some reliable websites, make sure you bookmark them so you won’t need to look for them again.

Read more: Top Tips for Effective Lesson Planning

Set up a classroom

Ok, so not really a classroom but you need a virtual space where you can upload lesson materials and homework assignments for your students to access after the lesson. Google Drive and Drobox are the two most popular online storage methods.

Find students

The final step is to find students. Advertise on tutoring platforms or in relevant Facebook groups. You might find it a bit slow in the beginning but you should get more students through word-of-mouth advertising.

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So there you have it! Five simple ways to get started teaching English as a foreign language on Skype. If you’re looking for an alternative full-time teaching opportunity or looking to supplement your income, why not give Skype a go and see how you do teaching English as a foreign language over Skype?

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