I remember as a little girl going to lots of different clubs, and every evening Mum or Dad would ferry my sister, my brother and me to the deepest, darkest corners of Cambridgeshire for piano lessons, drama clubs and French lessons, to name a few.
The winter was always the worst time. Leaving the house in the dark, layered up in warm clothing that didn’t actually stop you feeling cold and miserable. There were days when I just didn’t feel like going, or I hadn’t had chance to do the homework that had been set due to more pressing schoolwork. Other times, I would struggle to remember what I had been taught between lessons.
Fast forward to the 21st century and there is now huge opportunity to learn almost everything you could possibly want to learn online. I can master the piano using online tutorials, I can have acting and French lessons with a teacher on Skype. I can even get a degree online. And all from the comfort and warmth of my own home.
Of course there are huge benefits to learning online. Not only are costs generally lower, but online learning also offers a much wider breadth of programmes and courses. Better still, there is no commuting and no need to worry about traffic and not being able to find a parking space! In addition, course content can often be accessed by students 24/7, and entire courses, even degrees, can be completed while maintaining full time employment and fulfilling family commitments.
It is for these very reasons that I decided to make my elocution and accent reduction lessons available online. I wanted to be able to reach a greater audience and make my lessons accessible to people who don’t live in Cambridgeshire and therefore can’t attend face-to-face classes. More than that, I also found that a lot of my students were insecure about how their voices sounded. By electing to take my lessons online, nervous or self-conscious students are able to improve their spoken English without having to feel shy or inhibited or ‘watched’.
My lessons can be accessed anytime and anywhere as long as you have an internet connection, giving students convenience and flexibility. Being able to study from the comfort of your own home may also give you a greater ability to concentrate and not be distracted by other students or by worries about how you are getting home.
I find that I am better able to concentrate first thing in the morning, and when I was studying for my exams I would always wake up a couple of hours before school and revise then, rather than in the evening, as the information was more likely to go in and stay in. Learning online gives you exactly this flexibility, allowing you to study when you want to without any time constraints.
A lot my students have been rewarded at work for taking the initiative and enrolling in elocution lessons. Employers have appreciated the ambition and commitment it demonstrates to their career and to improving their communication. Some of my students have even been offered promotions on the back of their lessons, while for others, elocution lessons have given them the confidence to look for other employment and new challenges.
I do believe that face-to-face interaction is important, but we all lead such busy and chaotic lives that sometimes trying to fit everything in feels impossible. Thank goodness that these days online lessons are allowing us to take advantage of opportunities that, even ten years ago, we may not have had, due to geography and time-pressure.