Spurred by both curiosity and interest, I recently investigated the rising phenomenon of online English tutoring. While online tutoring is by no means new, a huge number of services have popped up in recent years that specifically partner North American tutors with Asian students. While some services require or prefer language teaching certification, for many, being a native North American English speaker is enough. In fact, that is pretty much the only requirement.
The services seem in many ways like a win-win: Asian students gain access to an English teacher with a North American accent; English speakers get paid for sitting in their pajamas and reading a pre-made lesson over Skype. Some services like Cambly and Spoken English Practice ditch lessons altogether and offer a purely conversational platform. Tutors don't need to prepare anything; they simply carry on a conversation. The time difference makes it possible for early rising Americans to make a few extra bucks between 5am and 9am, while students in Asia enjoy an evening tutoring session. Money is transferred over PayPal or a similar service.
Some of the services gaining the most traction are VIPKID, Landi, Q Kids, Teach Away, 51Talk, and USKid.
I'm interested to hear what you think about these services. There seems to be a huge demand for learning English from speakers with specifically North American accents. Tutors need no training in teaching or instruction, but just need to be able to speak with their native accent. Are platforms like these a way to offer students with 'native' language learning without leaving home? Or do they take advantage of English language learners by charging them for services that require little to no qualifications?