Teachers and students flock to online language tutoring

Kirill Bigai, CEO of online language tutoring platform, Preply, explains why – in the midst of the chaos – online language learning is helping people navigate these unprecedented times

Teachers and students have flocked to online language learning platforms in the last few weeks, as sites such as Preply have witnessed record traffic levels and new registrants on both sides of the marketplace. 

Many of Preply’s new students this week fall into the 50+ demographic – an age group keeping themselves largely, if not entirely, indoors to safeguard themselves from potential infection. We spoke to one man from Lincolnshire, UK, who has been at home for two weeks with his wife and has chosen to learn Chinese with a tutor in Harbin, China, as a way to keep an active and positive mind. The lessons give him something to look forward to and a chance to really connect in a way he didn’t originally think possible online. We’ve heard from other learners all over the world, new to the platform, who are simply keen to make wise use of their free time by choosing to learn a new language. 

Given the pandemic’s wide scale impact to people’s livelihoods, there are others who have started learning a language to improve their career prospects, as well as parents whose children are now at home and keen to focus their kids’ time on something constructive. 

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On the tutor side of the marketplace, we’ve seen record numbers of new applicants.  Teachers whose schools have shut down are looking to platforms like Preply to continue to make a living.  Whilst the majority of new tutors are completely at home using video technology and Preply’s online resources and learning tools, it’s been heartwarming to see an older generation – previously wary of online teaching – embrace what is a totally new method for them. One ESL tutor from Germany who started teaching 27 years ago was nervous as to how his reliance on body language would translate to an online environment. But Viktor has been blown away by how easy the switch has been; noting a silver lining in this crisis that he’s found something so transformative and powerful for his career. 

Tutors already on the platform, such as Paco in Murcia, Spain have seen requests for lessons spike considerably over the past few weeks. “I can’t keep up with demand!”, says Paco – a football coach who earns money as an online language tutor in his free time, teaching Spanish 40-hours a week to students based in locations  all over the world – including the United States, Germany and the Philippines.

One thing I know for sure is that, in these times of self isolation, remote work and home schooling, online language learning is just one of the platforms and services can really come into their own. 

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