Last year, I would have said no; today, I can assure you the answer is yes.
Ten years ago, I developed a start-up company teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) and cultural coaching in Greenville, SC; the city was brimming with new expatriate families since the automotive business had filled the area with new manufacturing plants. Everyone was on uneven footing, but I knew exactly what these poor souls needed because I had previously moved to Belgium before I spoke French, and then Germany before I spoke German. I designed my own textbook to cover the most important basics only, by which I assure you any self-respecting English teacher would be rightfully offended. I incorporated field trips to the pharmacy, supermarket, Department of Motor Vehicles, school orientations and more. I became part of these families; I was their English teacher, their confidant and their friend. All my success was from building personal relationships and making learning hands-on.
Until last year, I was convinced online learning could never replace the bonds that are built in person, but luckily, I was wrong. Done well, online learning can be just as effective as in-person, even more efficient in some ways. Last year, a former client begged me to work with her friend online because she had already been through three English teachers in a month and had made no progress. Wearing my heart on my sleeve, I capitulated, and I am so happy I did. I have never met my online student in person but in a few short weeks, we became friends. We played games, had conversations, watched videos, and she made great progress. Our bond became so strong that when her beloved dog passed away, we cried together over Skype.
During this time of uncertainty and quarantine, most of us have been wise enough to move what we can online but many are afraid that they will still lose clients this way. Just remember, people excel most when they know you, they like you and they trust you; and for this you must build a bond. Bonds aren’t built because you are sitting in front of someone but because you listen and you care. Using Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp or other online options may not be my favorite choice, but as long as you listen and you care, they work - they may even open up a whole new world of opportunities since geography can no longer define your territory.
In summary, online lessons do work. You might need foundations for a new structure though, so think outside of your box. Like the Romans taught us so many years ago, if you build strong foundations, you will last beyond your time. Build new foundations, build bonds and you will succeed.