Skype lessons: good or bad?

Hi everybody! Vsem privet!

The last 2 weeks have been very busy for me, because I’ve signed up to the online tutoring site. It’s a lot of fun teaching online, but also very challenging at times. The main problem is the Internet, of course. You never know how it’s going to behave. Plus it’s funny listening to someone when they are frozen on screen. Have you heard that noise? That’s what a wounded dinosaur would sound like! I really envy people who have a stable Internet connection. Here in Australia everything seems to affect the wires – from hot weather to violent storms.

But enough complaining! Today I want to share my experience of teaching Russian online and tell you the pros and cons of it. In fact, this doesn’t only apply to Russian, it’s about teaching any language online. Are you ready? Let’s go!

So, firstly, like I said before, you will need a reliable Internet. This goes for both teacher and student, because a failure to communicate on one side destroys the whole point of the session (unless one of you can communicate telepathically, which is great, of course).

Secondly, you need a lot of materials. I usually go for pretty-looking PowerPoint presentations – they are entertaining and help to hold the students’ attention for the whole session. In addition to that, it’s good to use colourful flash cards for introducing and learning vocabulary and even small objects like souvenirs and toys. They bring an element of surprise and work well as the means to start a conversation.

For me Skype lessons are a big challenge, because I’m that type of teacher who moves around a lot. I believe in the kinesthetic approach to learning and in my offline lessons I often play active games with my students, so being unable to do much in that area makes me feel restricted. I compensate for that by playing different verbal and gesture games, which can be as fun as the physical ones. I also think online vocabulary games can be quite helpful, but it’s a bit difficult to use them during the lesson. They can be a great as an additional home task, though.

In the end, there are three main benefits of Skype lessons that absolutely beat all the disadvantages for me:

  • You don’t have to travel anywhere. It saves you time and money for petrol or a bus-ticket.
  • You can always look good. For what it’s worth, you can even teach lesson wearing your old sauce-stained dressing gown and you don’t have to brush your teeth! Nobody will be able to tell the difference. How amazing is that? :Ь
  • You can have lessons with people from all around the world, any time of the day! It is always interesting to talk to people living on the other side of the world)

Do you agree with these arguments? Let me know what you think! 🙂


One thought on “Skype lessons: good or bad?

  1. Hello Irina,
    I’m Michael, i saw your profile on italki and your blog. I’m french, leaving in sydney and developing a platform where students can be/hire a language teacher with a free part of “barter” their language.
    I really want to get i touch with you, lot of question to ask. If you have a little bit a time can be very nice.


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