How to Teach English Online with Skype

If you’re googling how to use Skype for teaching English online, chances are you’re looking into freelance teaching and starting out on your own. There are lots to sort out and many decisions to make, but you’re ready to do it for yourself – well done you! Your list is endless, but hopefully, we can make your journey a little easier. Let us tell you that you’ve made a great choice with Skype! 

Benefits of Skype

Skype may seem like old software and you may feel like it’s outdated, but there are huge benefits to working with Skype. Here are a few of our favorites: 

  • Skype was created as a messaging app, so unlike a lot of other video systems that are used for teaching English online, Skype will save all your previous conversations with your student. You’ll be able to go back over the work that you’ve done previously and check out the worksheets you’ve sent in the past. 
  • Once you’re connected with a student on Skype, there’ll be no need to send invitation links or anything like that in the future. You can simply hop to your lesson straight away without doing any admin before it. 
  • Microsoft likes to keep things safe, so everyone must have an account. This will really help you when it comes to group classes and you won’t have any misconceptions about who is actually attending your class. 
  • Speaking of group classes, once you create a group, that history is also saved! You can rename the group and use it exactly like WhatsApp. If you have a recurring group class with the same students, this can become really handy, and they can even use the group to discuss homework with one another. 
  • And last but not least, you can have access to all of these features absolutely free. There are no limitations on web/cloud features with Skype. You don’t have to worry about premiums. This is especially useful for those of you who are starting out and budgeting your start-up costs. 

Limitations with Skype

With every software brings its limitations – and Skype does a couple you should be aware of: 

  • The students need an account. Although this is a nice safety feature, it can be a little annoying if the student doesn’t have an account already, which is definitely happening more and more as competitors rise up the ranks. Your best bet is to have an email template ready to explain to students how to set up easily. 
  • If you’re using the Skype app, make sure to update it regularly. They do make nice changes along the way, but the app you’re using may not update automatically so it’s always good to check. With these update delays, you could also experience some glitching to the video or a delay in messages. 
  • Saving previous messages with your students can also be negative sometimes! Just remember to only answer what you know and if you don’t know the answer to their question, it’s ok to say that you’ll get the answer for them the next time you see them. We cannot know every word in the English dictionary. 

How To Use Skype

Before setting up your Skype classes, you’ll need to make sure you have a good internet connection, a webcam or front-facing camera, a clean, well-lit background, and a good microphone. Some online companies that hire freelance teachers will give minimum requirements for this such as internet strength. You can run a strength test easily online. 

Once you have a good working environment, it’s time to set up your Skype and getting ready to teach English online. At this point, before you do, think about the email you want behind the account. A good idea is to have a separate email as a teacher and use this one for your Skype. Think about how you’d like the email to display. Once you’ve made a decision on this, set up your account

Have your account all set up? Great! But what now? Take a look around and get used to your new account. Change your profile picture and make it your own by personalizing the settings. After you’re happy, it’s time to add some contacts. You can do this by searching their Skype name or ID on the left-hand side of the screen. If you’re not sure or can’t find them, you can also click your profile and get a sharable link for people to add you. 

There are lots of cool features with Skype, such as making groups, video calling, audio calling, screen sharing, file sharing, messaging memory, and hundreds of fun emojis to choose from! Skype also has a great support system with lots of articles on how to get the best out of Skype, so make sure that you take full advantage. 

Teaching Online

There are a lot of differences between teaching English online and teaching in the classroom. There are some skills that you might not learn if you’ve only ever been in a classroom up until now. For online teaching, you’ll need to put a lot more effort into keeping students engaged and how to make do with virtual whiteboards and digital Realia. You may also need to be flexible with the time slotted in for technical issues and be a little more accommodating. Your face and hands need to be more expressive. You’ll need to talk even clearer and slower when teaching online. 

Teaching English Online

These are just a few tips for teaching English online in general. To learn more about this, try our 30-hour Teaching English Online Course today! The link is in the description at the top of the page. 

The icon for sharing a screen is universal. You’ll see a little screen outline with an arrow pointing upwards. Press this one and make a choice in what you’d like to share. You’ll normally get options like “entire screen” or a certain tab. If you don’t have much private information showing on your screen, it might just be easier to share the entire screen, so you can switch tabs without having to get out of screen share. If you’d like some teacher notes open at the same time or have any private information on your laptop, then only share slides and they won’t be able to see anything else.

There are hundreds of software that can contribute to online teaching! And we’re not just talking about the video software you’ll use, but also software to create your lesson plans, take payments, give useful information, and give presentations. Too much to list! The most popular video software systems to use are Skype, Zoom, and Google Classroom.

Teaching English virtually can be a little bit of a phenomenon for some of us. Especially if you started your career in the classroom – the switch can be tough! Your first step is to get some students. You can do this in a number of ways, the most popular being to find work with an online company as an employee. There are lots of these jobs! Once you’ve got some students, you’ll need to set up a good office space for yourself as you’ll most likely be working remotely. Most online companies even have a minimum WiFi strength to get employed.

To start your Skype lessons, you’ll need to create an account. The good news is that you actually don’t need a Microsoft account to do this, so if you’re a Gmail or mac mail fan, there’s no need to create yet another email account or if you have to use a work email account that’s not Microsoft, it’s a-ok! Once you have an account, you can add your contacts. The downside is that your students also need an account and can’t join as a guest. Once connected, you’re all good to go!

Once you know how to teach online, all the platforms that you’ll use throughout your career are very similar to one another. There’ll only be little differences between them. Skype has a unique feature where your past conversations are saved. This is because it started out as a messenger site. The cool thing about this for teachers is that you can go back to previous lessons in case you need to jog your memory a little or grab a worksheet that you sent to your student the last time you met.

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