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Oct 22, 2009

Eleutian Technology: Finding New Ways to Reach Students

Eleutian Technologies, headquartered in Ten Sleep, began doing business in Lovell in July of 2007, with the opening of a branch office on Main Street that would serve as a meeting place for area teachers and their students located around the globe. Since then, the business has continued to thrive, picking up clients across Asia and around the world and expanding into new offices around the Big Horn Basin.
As the business looks for new ways to make their English teaching services available, they are expanding different markets to reach students in the classroom, at home, on the go, or wherever else they may be.
Every weekday as most Americans are getting off of work, Korean elementary students are arriving at school. This is when many Eleutian teachers are starting work at 6 p.m. local time, teaching classrooms of students using several different mediums, said Lovell Teacher Manager Bobbie Brown. Group teaching is a relatively new way for Eleutian teachers to reach students that the company began last spring.
The teachers’ faces are projected on a screen at the front of the classroom and they use whiteboards that allow them to display text or drawings, she said. While speaking to the class through a microphone headset, the different tools allow teachers to further engage students, by having them spell aloud as the teacher writes, for example. Brown said the use of videoconferencing encourages the teachers to be creative.
“I often see teachers coming to work with armloads of stuffed animals, Frisbees, and all kinds of things,” Brown said.
Eleutian has contracts with three different South Korean school districts, Brown said. In the classrooms of those schools, she said the Korean students spend 40 minutes once a week with an Eleutian teacher.
At the Lovell office, there are 30 to 35 teachers on staff, Brown said. About 60 percent of teachers are certified to teach in Wyoming, she said.
The office is currently attempting to hire some more teachers – specifically teachers comfortable with teaching a group. An education background helps a teacher succeed, Brown said, but someone with a good personality can do well with proper training.

A Korean push for speaking English

Korean students and residents have been pushed to learn English in recent times. Elected in 2007, businessman turned president Lee Myung-bak ran on a platform of promoting English fluency, Brown said. The push was intensified when Incheon was confirmed as the host of the 2014 Asian Games.
Part of the push includes sending Korean teachers to Wyoming to learn more about the American education system and further their English-speaking skills like pronunciation, Brown said.
The program is coordinated with Northwest College in Powell, where the teachers spent about five months enrolled, learning about English and American culture. After their education at NWC, the 30 teachers were sent out to elementary schools across the state for a practicum. Two teachers were in northern Big Horn County beginning last January and said the experience was helpful and a lot of fun.
The teachers are from Incheon, a city of nearly 2.5 million people on the west coast and near the country’s capitol, Seoul. By participating, the teachers are obligated to spend four years teaching in Incheon when they return home.
The ages of students aren’t always a great indicator of their skill level, Brown said. As kids are started with English at earlier ages, they are coming to class with increased skills. Some of the young kids pronounce better than their teachers, Brown said, which is part of why teachers are coming to NWC to learn.
After the school day is over and Korean students are being dismissed, Eleutian teachers are having another cup of coffee and getting ready to do some tutoring sessions with small groups of students in afterschool programs. Most of the students in the high-priced afterschool groups are between the ages of 8 and 14, she said.
For high school and college students needing one-on-one help or adults trying to practice their English skills, Eleutian teachers are available for phone lessons at any hour of the day. A time is scheduled with a student and the teacher calls students, sometimes catching them while driving, on the subway or at the bar. While the many distractions don’t create ideal learning environments, students often take the calls and go ahead with a lesson. The conversations are usually more about practicing pronunciation with a native English speaker than a structured lesson plan, Brown said.
While most of their current clients are in South Korea, Brown said she expects the market will change as South Korea becomes more fluent and other countries are looking for more English speaking instruction.
“There are a lot of people in Asia,” she said, adding that clients come from around the world including the Ukraine, China, Japan and South America.
Korean teachers are coming to the area again this year, and families are needed to host the teachers during their stay from Jan. 2 to Feb. 20, 2010, according to Elizabeth Parker of Glacier Bay Training.
New host families will receive a stipend $1,100 and must provide a place to stay with a private room (with bed, desk and storage) and a shared bathroom, as well as three meals a day and transportation to and from school and school activities.
Host families are asked to provide a language-rich enviroment for their visiting teacher by talking with them every day and including them in their family activities. For more information about becoming a host family or for an application contact Parker at (307) 254-2353 or (307) 664-2521 or at eparker@glacierbaytraining.com.

 

Language and social networking

Eleutian announced in July that it offer one-on-one Internet tutoring with US-certified school teachers and Eleutian’s SpeakENG product to members of italki, a social networking site specifically for studying languages.
Prospective students can visit www.italki.com and register for an eight-minute trial lesson with one of Eleutian’s American teachers via videoconference. The product is called Eleutian SpeakENG(TM), and students can subscribe to an integrated package of online multimedia English courses and videoconference tutoring. SpeakENG also offers real-time assessment to measure progress and to track a student’s needs.
This partnership marks the opening of italki’s Language Marketplace to language schools. The Marketplace was launched in March 2009, and began by connecting independent teachers with students for paid online language teaching. In three months, nearly 3,000 teachers have joined the Marketplace to teach italki’s 500,000 users. The Language Marketplace is now open to schools and companies that want to reach italki users with their language learning products and services.