Improve access to English teachers by using video conferencing

Thursday, June 21 2012

China has an extensive demand for foreign-born English teachers that recently has been almost impossible to satisfy. As the world's most populous country continues to fully enter into the global company, its need for teachers of one of the world's most commonly used languages increases quickly.

In the last decade, this demand has tripled, according to the Guardian, sending Chinese teaching agencies to new places to find their valued educators. "The expansion in international schools means that it is possible schools will soon have to look further afield when it comes to recruitment as well as having to invest money in training their own," Andrew Wigford, a teacher recruiter in China, told the news source.

However, in the face of this shortage, some enterprising groups and individuals are turning to a growing technology to help them plug the holes. Video conferencing allows companies to worry less about traversing the massive country in order to reach its most rural outposts. Instead, web conferencing is helping teachers, wherever they are, educate students from afar.

In fact, the state of Wyoming has been using the technology to team up with agencies in China and as an employment opportunity for its residents.

"This partnership shows that improved connectivity and continued development of broadband technology will allow Wyoming to participate more fully in the global economy," state Governor Matt Mead said at a recent press conference in Beijing, according to China Daily. "It also means new jobs for the people of Wyoming."

In this way, the state can provide teachers 24 hours a day and in many different forms. There is one-on-one teaching for students who require or request special attention, as well as more traditional group lessons.

Online conferencing allows students outside of traditional urban settings to get access to high-quality education. Additionally, it can cut down on the need for designated classrooms and transportation. Of course, there are also savings on the American end.

"With video conferencing classes, you don't pay for the teachers' plane tickets or social insurance, so the charge is definitely lower," Hu Min, one of the company's employing the technology, told the news source.

Furthermore, the service allows U.S. companies to sidestep some of the complicated processes involved in setting up an international business including work permits and international licenses.

In fields with large international components such as language education, many companies are finding that using video conferencing can help improve access and lower costs. With millions of Chinese anxious to learn English and not enough teachers able to travel there to teach them, this can be an incredibly successful tactic.