You’ve probably got a lot of questions; maybe a few doubts, too. How can it possibly be as good as face-to-face teaching with a real, live tutor? You can only get verbal feedback, surely, and there’s no opportunity for doing more fun, interactive exercises. How can I practise my written English without having to do lots of homework and mail it to the tutor?
You’re in for a surprise. Skype has a lot more to offer than just video calling. Have you heard of sharing screens? If you click on the + symbol towards the bottom right of your Skype screen, you can show your tutor an open document on your computer. This is visual only – it does not allow the tutor to click on anything, change anything or access your computer. You’re still in control. Your tutor can click on his or her own + symbol and you’ll be able to use all the resources he or she has built up over the years (this is the most common use of the screen share function in Skype tutoring).
It’s not just a case of displaying Word documents, either. Many tutors use more interactive resources such as PowerPoints: read a question, state your answer and watch the result appear at the click of a mouse.
Don’t forget, Skype also has its own instant messaging service. Click on the dialogue balloon to the bottom right of your Skype screen and you have access to a great way of practising spelling, punctuation and grammar (or other things if you're not studying English!)
Let’s have a look at some of its advantages. Do you have limited availability? Skype tutoring can be a blessing here as you are much more likely to find a Skype tutor at a time to suit you e.g. early in the morning or later on in the evening. Your choice of tutors is also increased as you can Skype people all over the UK and in many other countries, too. I’ve had Skype clients who live in Italy, China, Switzerland and more!
Another advantage is that it’s usually cheaper than face-to-face tutoring. Costs are kept down by neither participant having to travel and the tutor does not have to do a lot of photocopying. It’s wonderfully convenient and I’ll let you into a little secret; although I’m always dressed very presentably during Skype lessons, I have been known to slip my fluffy booties on to keep my toes warm during the winter months!
So how on earth do you pay for Skype lessons? Well, there are two simple ways. If you have a PayPal account, money can be transferred without either participant needing to know anything except each other’s email address. BACS (bank) transfers are preferred by some tutors – this is where money is exchanged directly between bank accounts. It’s always best to ask first.
Why not give it a go? Some tutors, like me, offer a free assessment session where you can discuss your needs and decide if they are the right tutor for you before a penny changes hands. As an English tutor myself, I can help you brush up on your written English, get ready for an exam like IELTS or GCSE or just improve your conversation skills through Skype tuition.
With Skype, the pick of tutors worldwide is at your fingertips.