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Is it Better to Teach in Person or Online? 6 Pros and Cons of Each

Updated on August 29, 2017
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Poppy Reid is a proofreader for Japan Info and a video game enthusiast. She lives in Tokyo and has two hamsters named Zelda and Hemingway.

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Are you a part-time tutor helping high school kids pass their exams, teaching English for extra income, or building your own teaching business? With today's hectic schedules, you might be thinking of using an online call application such as Skype, WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger rather than meeting your students in person.
However, is teaching online really better than meeting your students face-to-face? Here we'll look at three good things about teaching in person and three good things about teaching via the internet.

This article refers to one-on-one lessons only.

Teaching Face-to-Face

Teaching face-to-face is, of course, the more traditional way of teaching. This can be done in a classroom, rented space, a cafe, or the home of either the student or the teacher. Here are three good things about teaching in person instead of online.

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1. You can do more interactive activities

If you teach online, you're restricted to only faces and voices. In person, you can use a much bigger range of materials such as flashcards, a whiteboard, and games. It also becomes much easier to read or use a textbook together. Where online teaching can be restrictive, face-to-face teaching allows you a much broader use of materials to aid you and your students' progress.

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2. It feels more personal

Meeting someone in person feels more like really meeting them. If all you see is a moving image of someone, it doesn't feel like you've properly met them. If you go to a classroom or cafe to teach, it feels much more intimate and personal.

After all, you can shake their hand, learn their mannerisms, and really get to know them as students. Some may argue that you can get to know someone much better by seeing them face-to-face often.

3. You don't have to rely on the internet connection

Most lessons last around an hour, and for that duration you have to rely on a strong internet connection to ensure the lesson isn't interrupted. Wifi and chatting apps aren't always perfect, and there's a chance that a lesson can come to a standstill if you experience lag or crashing.

This can waste time, and cuts into your lesson time, meaning that you either have to extend it or lose the wasted minutes; neither of these outcomes are desirable. If you teach in person, you don't have to worry about this problem.

Teaching Over the Internet

With modern-age technology, it has become a fairly recent possibility to chat online with people. Built-in webcams on laptops and even phones allows just about anybody to pick up their device and talk with someone whether they're five miles or five hundred miles away. Here are three advantages of conducting your private classes over Skype or a similar chat app.

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1. There's no need to travel

If you choose to teach your student over the internet, you can do it anywhere - even in the comfort of your own home. There's no need to drive or get a train to classroom or cafe, spending money and time.

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2. Both of you will save money

Neither you or your student will have to pay to get to the lesson location, rent a classroom, or pay for a beverage in a cafe. Your student won't have to pay for your travel expenses, either, meaning they'll be more likely to recommend your prices to their friends, if that's what you're looking for.

3. You can do it in your pyjamas!

No need to look the part if all your student is going to see is your head and shoulders. If you meet in person, you have to make sure your hair looks good and you look, from head to toe, like a teacher.

If you Skype your student, however, you can wear pyjama bottoms if you like, and they'll be none the wiser. There aren't many jobs you can do without pants on. This is one of those few.

Whichever you decide to do, teaching privately can earn you a little extra money as well as passing knowledge or language skills to someone new. Those are the few things you have to consider if you're thinking of taking up teaching freelance or looking to explore new options. Best of luck to you!

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    • poppyr profile image
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      Poppy Reid 6 weeks ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Yeah freelance seems to be the only way to do it online.

    • poppyr profile image
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      Poppy Reid 6 weeks ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Excellent points! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment :)

    • AlexisG profile image

      Alexis 6 weeks ago

      I've taught in-person the entirety of my teaching career, but recently started looking at doing it online. It's very hit or miss in my experience getting online teaching jobs, even with good credentials and experience. That said, both offer pros and cons!

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 6 weeks ago from Long Island, NY

      Interesting article Poppy. You gave a lot of pros for both methods of teaching. The conclusion you made me realize is that both methods can work, but it all depends on the individual being taught.

      I've had my experience with both methods. As you mentioned, face-to-face is important for individual attention.

      I realize you were talking about teaching individual students either online or in person. But I have a third case...

      I have found that when I try to teach online with written tutorials, many people fail to read every step. They browse and skip over things, then they end up missing important details. The best I can do in this case is direct them to the section where I wrote the answers to their questions.

      When teaching face-to-face, which I've done too, I can notice if a student is confused or misunderstanding something. Then I can immediately focus my attention to that issue they have trouble with before they get totally lost.