Can you tell us a little about SkimaTalk – how you got started, what your mission is, etc?
SkimaTalk was founded on the idea that the best way to learn a language is to converse with a native speaker.
After arriving in the U.S. for graduate school, SkimaTalk’s founder Koji realized he could improve his English through everyday interactions with native English speakers. Back in his home country of Japan, finding a good, native English speaking teacher was either very difficult, very expensive, or both. Recognizing the need for similar opportunities in Japan, Koji set out to build a simple system for English learners to speak with native English speakers. SkimaTalk was born!
SkimaTalk’s mission is to help people go global, creating opportunities to learn from people across the world. For anyone who desires to learn or teach, we make it easy, convenient, and affordable to share language skills online.
What do you think is the future of online learning/teaching?
Success in online learning will hinge on the ability to combine quality teachers, quality content, and a quality user experience. Technology can enhance the language learning experience, and help students stay engaged. But there is no substitute for repetitive conversation with quality, native speaking teachers.
The future of online learning will be an on-demand model, where students can speak with a native speaker anytime, anywhere, and about any subject. The role of language companies will be to deliver the right teacher and the right content for each particular student. This will help ensure that students are engaged, committed, and able to learn faster.
What are some characteristics of a great online teacher?
The best online teachers typically demonstrate 3 of the same characteristics:
1. Adaptability: each student is unique. Good teachers are able to identify the unique needs of each student, and adapt their styles and lesson plans to meet those needs.
2. Commitment: the best teachers will go above and beyond to ensure that their students succeed.
3. Approachability / Friendliness: practicing with a stranger is a daunting task for many language learners. Good online teachers are friendly and approachable, and able to put their students at ease. Only once a student is at ease can he / she begin to get the maximum benefit from the lesson.
How can teachers stand out when they use a profile based site like yours?
Students want to work with teachers that are professional, available, and unique. Teachers that demonstrate these characteristics will stand out; those that don’t will struggle to recruit students. Luckily, there are a few simple steps new teachers can take to ensure they are presenting the best image:
1. Quality Profile Photo: a teacher’s profile photo must be professional…period. This means a high-resolution image, with quality lighting. The teacher should be smiling at the camera, and be the only subject in the photo. Professional attire is not necessarily required, depending on the image the student wants to present.
2. List Lots of Availability: the more availability a teachers lists, the more likely he or she is to match with a student’s availability.
3. Be Honest: students want to work with a teacher who is a good “fit”. Teachers that paint an honest picture of their personality and teaching style typically get matched with students that are a good fit, which leads to repeat customers.
What makes SkimaTalk’s learning platform appealing to students and teachers?
Teachers and students alike appreciate the flexibility of the SkimaTalk system. Teachers can set their own schedule and price, and work from anywhere in the world. Students can choose their instructor, choose the lesson content, and schedule lessons 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Since day one, SkimaTalk has focused on being user-friendly for both students and teachers. Our website and content are translated into Japanese and Korean, which makes the SkimaTalk experience even easier for users in these countries.
Finally, SkimaTalk has implemented an evaluation system that is used after each lesson. Students love the consistent, real-time feedback because it allows them to track their progress and identify their personal areas for improvement.