Figure out these two scenarios. The first one: you’re a student in China who is interested in further your education in an English-speaking country. You need to brush up your English, but a native English speaker is difficult to find. The demand is high but the few who are in your city are already overwhelmed.

Second scenario: you’re a British ESL/EFL teacher living in Hull. You are highly qualified, but in your city, there aren’t many immigrants interested in learning English. It’s hard for you to make ends meet.

What is the solution for both, the student in China and the teacher in Hull?

The answer is videoconferencing. Videoconferencing will help them both fulfil their dreams.

Videoconferencing is the term used when when two or more people in different locations can interact with each other in real time by using specialised equipment and an internet connection. (Smith 2003).

As technology is getting more advanced and accessible, communication is becoming easier.

In education, videoconferencing has played an important role since the 1990’s, and the modern language teachers are using this learning tool more and more. They have the potential to connect with students from all around the world giving them the opportunity to learn a language that otherwise might have been out of their reach.

Videoconferencing in language learning, is the best alternative to in-person tuition which at times is difficult because of the long journey the tutor or learner must travel to get to their lessons. With this technology, a door is wide opened to the world. The tutor might be leaving in the UK and instruct his/her student in China or Saudi Arabia. It makes distance learning more interactive.

In education, videoconferencing has played an important role since the 1990’s

It is suitable for school age students as well as for the busy professionals who are unable to attend a classroom lesson due to their work commitments.

Videoconferencing is indeed an excellent way to learn a language because the live sessions make the lessons more engaging than when the learner is listening to a pre-recorded online course.

The lessons are personalised, and the student is engaged in conversations in real time with the tutor. He/she can detect the accent and the tone used by the expert as well as seeing his/her facial expressions, gestures, which at times constitute useful cues to interpret unfamiliar words and expressions. Furthermore, the student can become aware of the different use of fillers selected by the native speaker.

Fillers are apparently meaningless words, phrases or sounds that mark a pause or hesitation in speech. They are an essential part of spoken language and they are used in a bid to keep the flow of ideas coming when speaking.

The live sessions make learning a language more engaging and fun.

The student can interact, exchange ideas on a topic, ask questions for clarification, and take turns as speaker and listener in a spontaneous way. These allow him/her to learn to process and organise his/her thought in the foreign language and improve speaking skills.

Videoconferencing also promotes a more enhanced and colourful tutor/student relationship. It allows the student to learn more about the culture of the target language.

Videoconferencing also promotes a more enhanced and colourful tutor/student relationship.

Real-time communications keep the student motivated. The sessions can be recorded allowing for revision and feedback.

Videoconferencing offers many advantages of the face-to face tuition. It enables a language learning session from the comfort of your house or boardroom. It enhances the student oral skills; It is flexible and permits an authentic and personalised way of communication and interaction.

Have you learned a language through videoconferencing? Let us know in the comments.