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TEFL Guide To Teaching With SKYPE

Skype's Features

tefl guide to using skype - the skype interface

SkypeOut - allows a Skype user to call any landline or mobile phone for a small fee.
Skype In - allows a Skype user to receive phone calls on their computer from a regular landline phone.
Chat - up to 50 Skype contacts can use the chat feature to communicate with each other.
Voice Mail - a feature which allows the caller to record a voice message if the person they are calling is not able to take the call.
Video Conferencing - a feature which allows Skype users to talk to each other using a webcam. Skypes video conferencing feature allows for cross-platform conferencing between Mac and Windows XP users.
Audio Conferencing - a feature allowing up to 5 participants including the host, to conduct an audio conference call.
Skypecasts - a live, moderated conversation where up to 100 people can participate in a virtual discussion.
SMS - a feature which allows the Skype user to send an SMS text message to a cell phone number.

Since its first public release in April 2003, Skype has experienced rapid growth, both in popularity and in software development. Skype is a user-friendly, proprietary, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software. The Skype service allow users to make voice calls anywhere in the world for free (PC-PC), or for a small fee (for calls to a regular phone or mobile phone). Technically, Skype is not an open source software, which means that it is inoperable with other open source VoIP network. Further more, its codes is not open to public access or to public scrutiny.

SKYPE As a Distance Learning Tool

Among professional online trainers, Skype is perhaps the best known and most popular voice application for teaching english or any other subject over the internet. Skype, along with the likes of Google, MSN and Yahoo is among the top internet companies to support free voice, chat and video. Skype is also helping to fuel and further the interest in distance education and online tutoring.

With online tutoring a typical ESL student can now take up one-to-one english class in the comfort of their own home. All they need is a computer running Skype, an internet connection and an ESL instructor willing to tutor them online. Online tutoring is instant, interactive and it's becoming a popular alternative to classroom learning. Students can also expect to get personalized help such as grammar, sentence construction, essay writing, proof reading, conversational english practice and much more.

But its not just ESL students who are enjoying the fruits of online learning, English teachers are also reaping the benefits of these web-based communication technology. TEFL (Teachers of English As A Second Language) teachers who were once restricted to working in private language schools, or to traveling abroad and to working in temporary positions, can now conduct their own private online classes with an ESL student from any part of the world. VoIP software such as Skype has empowered and allowed TEFL teachers to work from home, allowing them to start up their own online tutoring service with low risk, and little to no capital investment. Online learning has grown so much in popularity that even English language schools are now offering online training in addition to traditional classroom learning.

SKYPE As A Teaching Tool

tefl/esl teaching using skype video

Skype is an excellent communication tool between teacher and student, offering many useful features such as chat, voice, file transfer and video conferencing. Skype is easy to learn and use, yet it has enough features to meet just about any communication needs. Many TEFL teachers, who previously tutored with MSN and Yahoo Messenger have now switched to Skype because of it's ease of use, popularity, security and reliability.

Besides the intuitative buttons and menus, another major reason why Skype is so popular is that Skype is currently translated into 24 languages, providing many ESL students with technical support and help files in their own language at the press of a button.

- Popular among TEFL teachers and ESL students alike.
- Free high quality voice call (PC-PC phone calls).
- Free audio and video conferencing features.

- Closed source proprietary code
- Skype often accesses the computers hard drive which can consume more power in the long run.

References and Links
Official Skype website
Online Tutoring Guide: ESL Teaching on the Internet
Alternatives to Skype: Comparison of FREE VoIP Providers