Is learning English via webcam effective?

Is learning English via webcam effective?

A webcam makes live one-to-one conversations across countries and continents feasible for English learners, but is the method really effective?

Let’s look at some of the advantages and disadvantages.


  • The trainer can be located almost anywhere in the world (subject to time differences!), so native speakers should be easy to find.
  • It’s ideal for intensive speaking practice.
  • It is cheaper than onsite training for learners and companies.
  • There is less “wasted” time – travelling, parking, arriving early to set up equipment etc.
  • Session times can be kept to a minimum (I recommend 30-60 minutes).
  • The software can be free (e.g. Microsoft’s “Skype”).


  • Many learners simply prefer not to use this form of learning.
  • A reliable, fast Internet infrastructure is required; poor quality pictures and sound will have a detrimental effect on the whole experience.
  • Companies may not allow the software to be installed on their networks – the IT manager needs to be on board.
  • Trainees need to have basic proficiency already (A2) or else it will be very difficult to maintain a conversation for a substantial time.
  • Some technical knowledge is required to install the microphone, webcam and software and troubleshoot problems.
  • I find that it best works with one to one; I would not recommend it for groups or multiple learners in different locations.
  • Listening and writing practice is limited. There is the ability to type words and sentences and some software includes a virtual whiteboard.

I have personally trained English learners of all ages using solely a webcam, even tech savvy teenagers! For enhanced speaking practice, I find it can be really effective and it is not as intrusive or time-consuming as turning up at a learner’s place of residence. For companies, combining it with other forms of learning may be a cost-effective and more varied solution than the classic tuition model.

Is learning English via webcam effective?2016-10-16T17:04:59+02:00

What’s the best way to learn English? (ESOL)

What’s the best way to learn English? (ESOL)

Face to face, blended learning, videoconferencing, telephone, self-study, e-learning, mp3s, films, individual, group, intensive, occasional, language study abroad….

The choices for learners of English as a second or other language are mind-boggling. So what’s the best way to learn? Well, the best way is the one that works for you (and your budget!). My approach is to start with speaking, a lot of speaking, even if the communication is difficult at first, it will come with practice. Then, once you have built up confidence in speaking, the other skills (listening, reading, writing) should fall into place.

To really improve your English, you have to go out there and meet people, not just take formal lessons. The lessons will give you the basis and the opportunity to learn within the safe training room environment, but what really will boost your speaking is managing the unpredictability of everyday exchanges. It’s also really important not to be afraid of making mistakes. Making mistakes when we speak is perfectly natural; feeling blocked or inhibited by grammatical constraints weakens your confidence and hampers communication, so just go for it!

For further information about my English training, visit my website or write to me at I look forward to hearing from you.

What’s the best way to learn English? (ESOL)2016-10-16T17:04:59+02:00