Before Covid online platforms were plentiful. I myself had taken some Spanish lessons online using Skype to simply book lessons. After looking at the top language companies it seems that this transition was well underway before the pandemic of 2020. What initially motivated this move was the reliance and stability of the Internet. Because of broadband and ISDN lines (including fiber) the bandwidth of data increased significantly. Video calls on Skype became stable around 2007-2008 and since this time the language industry sought an opportunity in online education.
However, around this time in early 2010 language learning online was still in its infancy and it was unusual to say “I am learning a language” online. Perhaps the majority of people still didn’t see the value of the online format for language learning. As time progressed and video got more and more stable it became evident that Internet learning was a force that was not going to go anywhere anytime soon.
Returning to my initial experience of Spanish online I recall that the website architecture was very limited compared to today’s platforms. Even aside from the design, there were dozens of teachers claiming to be qualified, but how could I verify if my Spanish teacher had genuine credentials? The fact is that I couldn’t. It seems to me that there is a void in the selection process of teachers and this is something that we cannot ignore going forward in the development of education. Mediums such as online learning need to have some stringent measures to protect against teachers who do not live up to their claimed qualifications.
How can you be sure of a teacher’s credentials?
This is one of the big problems when we enter the online world of learning. How can we verify that the teacher’s qualifications stand up to scrutiny. Any bricks and mortar business in the world of ESL would do checks on a teacher’s qualifications and also past experience, at the very least getting a reference from the last employer. All this is seemly put aside in cyberspace and people can claim to have this or that qualification without any real assurance of credibility.
Acceleration of the industry during the pandemic
This process has become deeply accelerated due to the recent pandemic. People have demanded more authentic checks on teachers qualifications and there has been a higher perception in the public of new upcoming companies such as Zoom. People are demanding some benchmark of standardisation within the e-learning community and we are beginning to see it with many of the big players now introducing testing systems for teachers. Some companies even go as far as implementing background checks and previous employer checks.
Language in action
I tried again to find lessons for my girlfriend who had an upcoming interview on Skype. The first page offered several results but the site I chose was https://www.speakwithateacher.com/ it seemed logical as it was the only site that seemed to offer verification of teachers claimed qualifications. It is crucial that a good teacher is chosen as the style of the lesson is business English involving interviews and presentation assessments.
Online language learning has come a long way since its roots in the early 2000s. I feel now that thanks to very stable internet connections worldwide and the abundance of good teachers, this could be the future of learning. That is not to say that there might be many obstacles along the way. Testing by the new platforms is a assurance of quality, to some degree, and the future of online learning by Skype or Zoom does look more promising than in past years.