My day typically starts out with a cup of coffee and a trip around the world: I do this by giving Russian lessons via Skype. I might have a student from Spain, or a student from Canada, or one from Italy. In one day, I “fly” around the whole globe. So, every day is 7 hours, and I’ve been doing this work for 8 years.
Suddenly the phone rings. It’s from someone wanting to know more about our online language lessons. A pleasant male voice is interested in taking Spanish lessons. As I always do, I explain everything in detail: the teachers are native speakers with extensive teaching experience, and they also speak Russian; the lessons are conducted via Skype… and as soon as they hear the word “Skype”, the potential student declares, “Oh no, no, Skype is like a teach-yourself book” and hangs up. No amount of debate will work.
This scenario is, unfortunately, not uncommon. It is, in fact, typically what happens with Russian-speaking students during our initial consultation when they hear the word “Skype”. In the course of the day, when I get calls like these, I try to find out the reason for this reaction from people who want to learn a language. Why is it that so many people who contact us for lessons do not take into consideration the qualifications of our teachers, their teaching experience – that is really deserving of respect – the fact that they are native speakers of the language they teach, that they specialize in teaching by Skype, that they use the latest language learning textbooks in their lessons, that the first lesson is free (so that it’s easy to just try out a lesson) and so on? Our own fellow-citizens for some reason run away in fear from the opportunities presented by the development of technology.
I have been teaching Russian to foreigners via Skype for 8 years now. The technology works really well: students study to exam level and obtain Russian language certificates; they read, write, and speak Russian; they listen to audio, watch video, and study grammar. And bear in mind that Russian is much more complicated than the other European languages! My experience enabled me to found Russificate, the school of Russian language for foreigners. The number of students studying Russian online with us – from Europe, USA, South America, and Asia – is growing daily.
I myself have been studying foreign languages via Skype with native speakers for many years: French, German, Italian… right now I’m studying Portuguese with a wonderful teacher from Brazil, and I can say, without false modesty, that I have achieved pretty good results; you can read about my accomplishment in my resume.
Both Russian and worldwide statistics regarding the use of credit cards on the internet, and the effectiveness of internet advertisements, show that in Russia, people are very cautious when it comes to making electronic payments. For this reason, we do not ask our students to pay up front; you can pay when the lesson is finished. We send you the study materials electronically, and absolutely free of charge, and we are glad to offer you your first sample lesson also without charge!
Besides all this, I would ask that you have faith in me as a professional: it is practically impossible to find to find a qualified native speaker teacher, at such a reasonable cost, and who also speaks Russian! And, with Skype, you can study anywhere where there is internet access, at a time convenient to you, and you don’t waste time travelling to and from lessons.
At this point, I feel I must mention one other point: in the course of my work, I encounter a good number of Russian-speaking teachers who charge very little for teaching by Skype. If the price is really appealing then, so as not to be perpetually disappointed by the effectiveness of studying by Skype, do clarify with them to what extent they themselves have mastered the language they are teaching; do they have a degree; are they a qualified teacher; what is their motivation for teaching, and also have a look at testimonials from students who have had lessons with them.
For our part, we are happy to publish testimonials we receive from our students. These are authentic testimonials. If you request it, we can give you the contact information of our students, and you can then ask them directly any question you might have.
My day ends with a message from a student who would like to study English at our school. I reply right away. I describe our methods, the textbooks we use, the teaching experience of our teachers, and much more….then, after I say the word “Skype”, I hold my breath…
– I would like to study in the mornings, before work. Can I do that?
– Yes, of course.
– Great, but I have already begun to despair…
I wish you success in your language studies and success in life,
Director of Language Life School