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Automatic English For The People

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Freelance Teaching

by AJ

Im not alone. There are already a number of distance and phone teaching services. Ive found several companies that offer students "conversational English" via phone or internet. And Im shocked by how much they are charging (30$ per hour or more).

Phone instruction is a good idea with good benefits for students and teachers. Students can benefit from lower prices (no building or infrastructure to pay for) and a personal relationship with a teacher (no large classes). Some students will also benefit from avoiding face to face contact initially. These are students who are very shy... who may find a phone call less intimidating than staring a foreigner in the eyes.

Teachers, likewise, can benefit from the freelance possibilities of distance teaching. Its easy to compete with anyone in this medium. No need for big buildings. No need for corporate decor. No need for mega marketing budgets. And no need to reside in any particular place.

But as much as phone education has benefits... its the internet that really opens a world of potential. For one thing, internet phone calls are free (Skype, Google). For another, these free services offer conference capability (up to 4 people for Skype).

They also come with simulataneous chat options. So a teacher or student could type a word they were having trouble understanding.

Then there's the video option. Web cams are relatively cheap and easy to use. Now student and teacher can see each other. This technology is rapidly improving.

The would-be freelancer can now create a virtual school with a cheap computer, free internet phone service (Skype), and a high speed internet connection. With this set up, they have access to students in nearly every country of the world. They can accept payment with credit cards, using an internet banking service (such as pay pal).

While starting up, they can choose to live in a low cost country to keep expenses very low.. while targeting students in higher cost countries to make a decent income. Thus, a teacher could live in Thailand but focus on teaching Japanese students.

But there are even more possibilities. Teachers can create MP3 audio files (conversations, articles) and share them with distance students during "non class time". They can help students with writing by utilizing blogs and focused rewrites. They can create social networks between their students... and collaboritive projects.. using listservs, blogs, websites, and forums.

They can easily compete with the big schools... and beat them. They can build a completely freelance income.

They can, in short, be free.

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