What’s it like to teach English long distance via Skype? Here’s a delightful glimpse from Kaz, an English tutor in Spain, teaching children in the mountains of Nepal. Kaz has been working with the children just three months.
ONE week I prepared a lesson based around the theme of food. Of course I used a lot of things from my kitchen. I held an egg up, for example, and asked the kids what it was. Immediately they shouted out, “It’s an egg!”
I praised them and we talked about eggs, where they come from and, yes, they have chickens in Nangi. I asked if they liked eggs and they enthusiastically told me “Yes, I do!” Then the Skype connection cut off. So I waited patiently for them to call me back. When they did, the children all had big playful smiles on their faces. They then totally took charge of the class! One of the pupils, a little girl, held an orange up in her hand and playing teacher, asked me what it was! I answered, “It’s an orange!”
Giggling, the children praised my correct answer and asked me if I like oranges! I said, “Yes, I do!” I then held up an orange I had had ready to use. They all fell about laughing and, as their laughter is infectious, I was laughing hard too. The atmosphere and energy coming from the classroom in Nepal was tangible in my living room in Spain.
I was truly amazed by the children—their quick thinking whilst we were cut off, their playing the teacher, their praising my correct answer and giving a follow-up question. Teaching via Skype is definitely more challenging than face to face, especially when the connection is not very reliable, but clearly this can be used as an advantage if you are quick thinking like the students in my class.
With each class, the students are coming out of their shells more and I see a little more of their personalities. The fun-loving and mischievous parts of their characters are surfacing and I love it! They call me by my name now, which they were too shy to do at the beginning, and so I can feel our rapport growing. For example, another week we were talking, and then singing, about feelings. The kids acted out feelings: sad, tired, surprised, etc. Then we sang, “If you’re happy and you know it”. They danced around the classroom and had so much fun.
It is amazing to see what is possible in our world today. I love the fact that Skype teaching allows me to share stories, songs, and experiences with these eager students on the other side of the world and that they enjoy them so much. It’s really special. —Kaz