Kids in Britain + Online Tutors in India = Divided Opinions

Posted by admin on May 24th, 2011 at 08:47am

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This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

India was once a colony in the British Empire. But now Indian tutors are helping to teach math to some British children over high-speed Internet connections.

Early results suggest that online tutoring may improve student performance. But not everyone is happy at this so-called outsourcing of tutors.


It’s three-thirty in the afternoon at Raynham Primary School in London. Students are gathering for their after-school math lesson.

Five time zones and thousands of kilometers away, their math tutors are also arriving for class.


Each pupil gets an individual online tutor. The students work with activities on their computer screen and wear a headset and microphone to talk to their tutor.

Their classroom teacher, Altus Basson, says he has seen an improvement in results.

ALTUS BASSON: ” Children who struggle to focus in class focus a lot better on the laptops.”

Nine-year-old Samia Abdul-Kadir says she enjoys the online lessons.

SAMIA ABDUL-KADIR: “It helps me because sometimes when we’re doing it in class, I don’t hear the teacher very much and I don’t understand, but online is better.”

Her friend, Abdul-Fadil Badori, agrees.

ABDUL-FADIL BADORI: “Online, you can hear it, it’s not shared by everyone, everyone has different topics they’re learning.”

Tom Hooper started the company that provides the online tutoring. The company is called BrightSpark Education.

TOM HOOPER: “Children today feel very confident online, they feel very engaged, they feel very in control. And that’s half the battle with education. Give them control, make them feel confident and enjoy their learning and you’ll see them start to improve and embrace it.”

Online tutoring costs between twenty and twenty-five dollars an hour. An online tutor is about half the cost of traditional face-to-face coaching.

But some people say an Internet connection is not enough of a connection for teaching and learning. Kevin Courtney is deputy general secretary of Britain’s National Union of Teachers.

KEVIN COURTNEY: “We think there’s something that’s a really important emotional connection between a teacher and a child, whether it’s a whole class or whether it’s one-to-one. You need that immediacy of feedback, and we’re not convinced that that can happen across an Internet connection. In one of the wealthiest countries in the world, we think that we can afford to have teachers with the genuine emotional connection there with the children.”

BrightSpark Education says the online tutoring is used only as an addition to supplement regular teaching. The company says its service does not represent a threat to teachers’ jobs in Britain.

Some parents say they are satisfied with the results. And what about the children?

CHILDREN: “I love it!” “I love it!” “I hate maths!”

So math — or, as the British call it, maths — is still not everyone’s favorite subject even with the latest technology to teach it.

And that’s the VOA Special English Education Report. You can watch a video of the online tutoring by going to I’m Steve Ember.


Contributing: Henry Ridgwell

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Under Education report


  • 1. QuaChanhLeo  |  May 24th, 2011 at 11:33 am

    How interesting to learn !
    This is new way to learner, if stutent learn by online lesson she must be controll herself.

  • 2. huong thi pham  |  May 24th, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Online learning requires high concentration and controlling oneself of learners. I have the same opinion of Brightspark Education” the online tutoring is used only as an addition supplement regular teaching”. Most kids aren’t mature to focus any topics, so they should be taught in class under the control of a teacher, the emotional connection between teacher and child is better than the internet one, they are able to have immediacy of feedback what they don’t understand clearly , even contrary ideas with teacher ‘ ones and mutual connection among them for exchanging knowledge, which help them learn better. After school, they can learn online at home to supply and improve their study.However, this is a new way of study,it need a experienced process before multiplying in schools.

  • 3. immunology  |  May 24th, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    So long time to write commend, I am very sorry about that. Wish everyone is not like me.

    Have a good lesson on online English learning!

  • 4. lan  |  May 25th, 2011 at 6:28 am

    online tutoring is a method supports of educational asistance. It hepl sutdents understan the lesson better. How to enrich teaching and learning, more choice for teachers and learners. By students who do not also well liked and effective with learning traditional teaching method

  • 5. Hy  |  May 25th, 2011 at 7:53 am

    Online tutoring ,why not ?
    That is a new way to give a child an addition to supplement regular teaching .Almost children today are interest in computer game ,they feel very confident online with a computer to play games .The education online or teaching online is for adult students very popular now .The online tutoring provided by Bright Spark Education Company creates a new way with lower cost a tutoring for kids .
    Important is it ,if the childrens accept this tutoring and their performance result is better .The childrens say :” I love it “,” I love it ” . That was a compliment for Tom Hooper,who had created a new way.

  • 6. Phuong  |  May 25th, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    I can listen more clearly after concentrating on listening the lesson on for somedays. i’m also understanding some part of the lesson, that before i’ve never done. This website is so really meaning for me in studying E.

  • 7. HaNguyen  |  May 25th, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    i think this website is very useful. we can improve my listening skill and we can know news everyday…it is very interesting!!!!

  • 8. mimi  |  May 25th, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    I think that online tutoring is very useful for indian pupils. Through internet connection,Indian pupils could learn easily, understand lessons deeply. Moreover, it might reduce cheating program in class because everyone has diffrent topics to study.I hope this method will come Vietnam soon and in over the world.

  • 9. meocon  |  May 25th, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    You made lots of grammar mistakes in the sentences.

  • 10. Phuong  |  May 26th, 2011 at 8:21 am

    It helps not only to improve our listening skill but also to know more vocabulary, grammar. Specially, now I’m not afraid of leaving a comment for a lesson. before, i was afraid of being laughed at what I wrote down because of mistakes. But today, when i see “3 like” for my comment, i feel very happy and self-confident to continue to write down what i think, and I know that, it’s a good way to study better. Thanks so much

  • 11. lan  |  May 26th, 2011 at 8:31 am

    An interesting lesson

  • 12. Water  |  May 26th, 2011 at 8:42 am

    In my opinion, online learning is good but it should not use for children. Why? Because children need have friends to play How is a child if he or she just studies alone? Online learning is the best for students who can control and have sense in study. Follow me, you just study online when you don’t have enough conditions to study face to face.

  • 13. HaNguyen  |  May 26th, 2011 at 9:29 am

    meocon, you are right. there are many mistakes in quachanhleo’s comment .why do not you give some suggestion for quachanhleo?
    “This is new way to learner, if stutent learn by online lesson she must be controll herself.” we will write … ” this is a new way to learn English. if students use online learning way, they will have many advantages”

  • 14. Dot  |  May 26th, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    I haven’t many vocabulary to write sentence. I can’t to talk or to discuss

  • 15. katie  |  May 26th, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    in Viet nam , online tutor is a method which is used very few in learning. Students in Viet nam often follow tradition methods. the chalks, the boards and the textbooks are the main stay of the teacher who is to shape the character of the child. rote memory is insisted upon and examinations is based on this learning technique. there is not much of a difference from year to year on the way students are tested. and i think this tradition methods must be changed. we should apply online tutor in teaching and learning. it will help our education improve. our students can communicate with foreign teacher, they can have new and interesting knowledge they have never knew before. and many advantages will be brought . i think so. hope that Vietnamese education will more and more develop in near future.!

  • 16. ThaoTtruc  |  May 27th, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    the children will difficult to control their mind so as online learning can double-edged sword .

  • 17. ThaoTtruc  |  May 27th, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    i agree with you.The children should go to school day after day. if they use online tutors must be take of parents or teach ‘s time-date;

  • 18. meocon  |  May 27th, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Your writing skill is quite good. I just suggest you should express your thought in the style of English, not translate from Vietnamese thingking so that your sentences will be smoother and more attractive. Eg: “to know more vocabulary, grammar”, “before”, “specially”… The way you use it and its position are not really reasonable.

  • 19. Linh  |  May 27th, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    some stupid mistakes!

  • 20. katie  |  May 27th, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    yes! thanks for ur comment!:)

  • 21. nguyen thuy  |  May 28th, 2011 at 11:48 am

    i think it is a good way to learn effectively.

  • 22. nguyen thuy  |  May 28th, 2011 at 11:50 am

    hihi i am also lazy in giving the comment. however, i think it is high time to change my mind

  • 23. nguyen thuy  |  May 28th, 2011 at 11:54 am

    hihi i believe you can improve the vocabulary through practising alot

  • 24. nguyen thuy  |  May 28th, 2011 at 11:58 am

    it’s right because everything has two sides: possitive side and negative side. it depends on our thought

  • 25. johnyevansmu  |  June 1st, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    yeah, i’m shy, when studying in class, i don’t understand something, rarely raising my hands to ask my teacher. class period ends, i ask my teacher about my trouble. nowaday, online very many website tutor, it’s helpful

  • 26. Hong Hoa  |  June 9th, 2011 at 3:08 am

    I have not studied English for 2 months because i am busy( study other subjects in university to pass the final exam) . But i think it is useful for me to study English one hour per day. this lesson is interesting ; online tutoring is the new way to study

  • 27. Dong Quy  |  June 20th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    In my opinion, online study requires you are a shelf-control person. It is saving much time instead of go to school and you are not convenient to go there (cannot arrange our time and the classes are so far from our home…). Tutor online is too. When the people who are tutored are lazy, it’s very terrible. But sometimes the online lessons are livelier than when we use face to face tutor method. This may be make the children like that more than traditional tutor method and they can be learn effectively.

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