Skype has turned classrooms into a global learning environment as cultures are colliding like never before and distance is simply no longer an obstacle. As a result, schools are expanding their classrooms to a worldwide audience, with both students and teachers saving time and money on travel costs.
Individuals are using Skype to learn foreign languages one on one, or “1-2-1” as Craig Jull, founder of 121Spanish, likes to say. 121Spanish, is an online Spanish school that uses Skype to provide Spanish lessons to students around the globe. The company was born when Craig was learning the language at a school in Guatemala, 4 years ago. At the time he asked himself “Why can’t I do this on-line?”. 121Spanish now has over a 1,000 students in 35 countries and 15 teachers located in seven different countries.
Rob Plankenhorn, a retired entrepreneur from Indianapolis, USA, has taken a class with nearly almost all of the teacher’s. Before discovering 121Spanish, Rob had tried private lessons and other computer software options to learn Spanish, but in the end he just didn’t get the results he was hoping for. He began taking classes with 121Spanish via Skype video just over a year and a half ago and is very happy with the virtual approach.
“This [language lessons] seems to be the kind of thing that Skype was made for,” said Rob. “It’s so perfect. You can see and talk to your teacher; you can use the chat [IM] function, and if you need to look for books or documents you’ve created, it’s right there. It’s just so easy,” he said.
Another student, Peter McManus, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is also a big fan. “You get one to one attention and by using Skype, you might as well be in the same room as your teacher,” he said.
Both Rob and Peter agree that the combination of Skype video and Spanish teachers from a variety of countries and backgrounds has made learning a foreign language easier and much more fun. Skype also provides opportunities for cultural awareness and interaction, which are critical for language learning and hard to imitate in a traditional classroom. One gets to know and makes new friends in foreign countries, which can (and already has for some 121Spanish students) provided first-hand knowledge of a travel destination.
Skype-based teaching has proven to be a success for Craig and his students, and even a preferred choice for many learning and teaching a foreign language. “It simply works well for everyone involved, not to mention the environment,” says Craig. “When you save on fuel and transportation costs by taking classes at home, it truly is an eco-friendly, cost-effective, and convenient way to learn.”
Special thanks to Craig Jull for contributing to this blog post.