I recently had a phone consultation with a potential student. He lives in Florida and wondered how effective online coaching could be. He was highly doubtful that I could “fix” his Russian accent using Skype. He needed to become more comfortable and comprehensible in English, so he would have the opportunity to advance within his company. He really believed that his accent was the only reason he was not moving up. He had actually trained a few people who then received jobs above his!
The timing for this consultation could not have been better!
I had just finished three classes on Skype; one with a student in Washington, DC, another in Los Angeles and one in Zurich, Switzerland. All three told me how much they love our classes and more importantly, how much they are learning. And their reasons why they appreciate our classes were unanimous.
1. The ease of not having to battle traffic and simply do class from their homes or office. Many of my students do class before they go to work or school. It’s a great start to their day, almost like a vocal work out!
2. Their attention is completely on me. Having my face so close to theirs and listening to me so carefully, creates an interesting dynamic. They are less inclined to distraction. It is sometimes uncomfortable and inappropriate to stare so closely at someone talking to you, but on Skype, it’s perfect.
3. Skype saves the notes that I write in the Message feature. I often do creative spelling to help them understand a particular pronunciation during class.
4. The fact that they can record the video and audio of their classes is extremely helpful. The Record feature not only saves my image and audio but theirs, as well. Reviewing the class the next day or even every day until our next class, helps solidify the lesson. Now they can see and hear what they did during class, making their accent modifications easier to process.
5. They can even continue class while on vacation! One student did her classes while visiting France. She didn’t want to have a break. All we had to do was move the schedule a bit to accommodate her new time zone for the two weeks that she was away.
6. Their pronunciations are changing organically. Sounds that they never thought could change, are changing. Their friends, coworkers or partners notice the difference.
7. Our relationship is very close. They feel such a connection with me, yet they have never seen me in person.
So, is Skype effective? It most certainly is.
I know this sounds like a commercial for Skype but if something works, I believe in praising it!