Welcome to another installment of ‘In the Spotlight’. This week we are talking to one of our best English as a Foreign Language tutors, Anne Fraser!
What gave you the idea to tutor online?
When I was working at college I realised that there could be great potential in new technologies such as Skype that were just coming to the fore. I felt increasingly that I could deliver classes effectively to a wide range of learners across the globe at their convenience.
What do you enjoy about tutoring online?
Meeting people who are passionate about their learning is always exciting. It is such fun! We can really get stuck into what they need or want to learn and take it from there. I have learnt so much and been amazed at their commitment. The flexibility means that people can have lessons before work or after work, they can sit and have a cup of tea or coffee and relax a little. The internet is at your fingertips, so there are plenty of resources and materials to hand. And they are not 5 years old, as is often the case with the course books.
Is there anything about it you don't enjoy?
The downsides definitely include the technological glitches and low internet speeds. If there is a storm or high winds, that spells trouble! Seeing myself frozen on video mid-sentence is pretty scary. While there are lots of wonderful materials or technologies, they are often expensive to sign up for.
How is it different from teaching a class full of students?
Teaching one to one is much more satisfying in terms of building a rapport with the learner and really being able to meet their learning aims and requirements. I can adapt the class to their style - they may be visual learners for example. So, while some people like lots of conversation or games, others enjoy looking at newspaper articles or videos. It is harder to find imaginative ways to practice, for example with board games, or running up to the whiteboard, but you have to be a bit more inventive.
What do you like to do to relax?
I enjoy walking in the countryside with my dog, which I am going to do any second now. I also attempt to do calligraphy, but I have now accepted that I will never make my fortune from it.
Have you got any tips for other online tutors?
As for tips - keep calm! I have found it handy to have my iPad with me so that I can have documents or texts on Kindle or online and see my classroom at the same time.