April 04 2020
E-tutors in city
05 February 2012

After she gets back from college every evening, Maria Rodrigues, 23, stays up late training an Italian student in Milan for a qualifying English exam. Rodrigues is a doctorate student at the University of Madras and has been taking e-tuitions in English and biology for foreign students since the last one year. 

"These students can speak a bit of English, but need help with grammar or vocabulary. Some sign up to learn specific topics like genetics," says Rodrigues. Teachers like her are signing up with online tuition portals to teach students abroad over the internet. There is a huge demand for spoken English classes from countries like China and Vietnam, says Sujai G Pillai, founder of online coaching portal www.2tion.com. 

It's not just foreign students; NRIs too hire tutors from India. "Older Indians who have moved to countries like Australia and New Zealand and are not fluent in English also enroll in classes," he says. Maths is another subject for which tuitions are in demand, especially in Europe, the US, Dubai and Saudi Arabia. "Indians are considered academically advanced and even 'nerdy' aboard," says Ganesh Krishnan, founder and CEO at TutorVista, a Bangalore-based online coaching company which was started six years ago. Online coaching makes tutors available at a convenient time. The use of smart phones and tablets has also made online coaching easier, says Krishnan. Indian teachers provide cheaper options to foreign students who have to pay as much as $40 a session in countries like the US. "We charge around $10-$15 a session," says Rodrigues.

"The rates are low for them, but it is still a lot of money for us," she says. "I have heard of teachers who do this full-time and earn as much as a lakh a month," says Geetha V K, who started taking online tuition classes a few years ago after having taught in an international school for seven years. Indian teachers are also preferred because of the Indian schooling system, which is known to be theory intensive compared to the US, where the syllabus is largely application-based. 

Geetha says many of her foreign students join e-classes as they need help finishing their homework and assignments. Since most e-classes do not involve eye-to-eye contact between the teacher and the student, tutors say teaching over the internet is challenging. "Understanding accents is a problem initially," says Geetha. Teachers use audio, and many use powerpoint presentations or white boards to teach. Portals like Tutorvista also provide training to teachers for the foreign syllabi and provide materials to keep them updated.



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