The ESL Internet Disruption

Though first invented in 1982 for sending confidential military communication, the internet has since revolutionized everything from our romance, to our politics and–for our purposes–ESL education. Today’s ESL students not only can access all the raw information necessary, but also study guides, reference guides and interactive contents. All the information exists, along with an increasing amount of online English teachers to help you learn English on Skype.

Fluent English is indispensable to today’s online market place. An approximated 55% of all internet content in English, with Russian at a distant second in 6%. While it’s technically possible to translate this media through Google, any fluent speaker can attest to how rough this software currently is.

And none of this is to mention that–for all the cultural and economic skepticism surrounding it–the United States’ hegemony in the global economy will remain ubiquitous for decades to come, and English will remain the accompanying lingua franca of the place.

Despite this, the gap between the number of people learning English and ESL teachers is immense. In 2006 there were an estimated 1 billion people learning English, but this demand has since risen exponentially. The accompanying supply of qualified teachers of English can barely keep pace.

Traditionally, geography and distance has widened the gap, since few ESL teachers were willing to live abroad. But because the internet has rendered distance essentially meaningless, English via Skype have accordingly skyrocketed in popularity.

Given this broad understanding, three very simple economic and social realities are only going to fuel Skype English’s popularity:

Supply: As mentioned, there aren’t nearly enough ESL teachers to meet the demand of millions, billions of workers and students wanting to join the marketplace or engage online.

Price: Because Skype English teachers don’t pay for traditional brick and mortar expenses (rent, insurance, maintenance), they can profitably afford to charge a lower price for their lessons.

Individualization: One on one tutoring sessions give at once more flexibility, and more accountability between the student and mentor. Upon agreeing to a schedule, students are kept to lessons that are their very own; learning at a pace and style which suits their unique needs.

The digital age disrupting another industrialized and increasingly outdated educational system isn’t unique. Even at the most elite-private schools like Harvard or MIT, these institutions are beginning to offer any course you can think of for free online. Though it feels harsh and arrogant to declare, embracing English by Skype is to embrace the inevitable future of education.