Eleutian Technology hires people in towns across northern Wyoming to teach English to Koreans of all ages using Skype, the free online calling and person-to-person video service. Two years old, Eleutian already is one of Wyoming's fastest-growing businesses.
The company has close to 300 teachers hooked up to more than 15,000 students in Korea, and CEO Kent Holiday said he's just getting started.
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Eleutian's teachers include Kathleen Hampton, whose home is remote even by Wyoming standards.
Hampton moved to Wyoming from New Jersey when she met her rancher husband during a trip out West 13 years ago. She teaches English online several nights a week after her 30-mile commute home from teaching kindergarten in Ten Sleep.
She teaches most Korean students one-on-one. Many are in college. A few are middle-aged business executives. Hampton also teaches groups that are in private schools called "hakwons," which students attend after the regular school day.
"They're always fun because they're always yelling out in the background," Hampton said. "You get 14-year-old boys yelling out `I love you!' because they learn these English expressions and try to use them."
Eleutian pays its teachers $15 an hour to start. They're required to have state certification but don't have to be currently employed in schools.
"When you put on those first headphones and you're talking to somebody, it's nerve-racking to start with," Hampton said. "But it doesn't take long. If you're a teacher and used to explaining things, it makes no difference."
Growling at her students is one of her techniques. The idea is to get them to make an English-sounding "r."
"I'll be growling at them and there's some of these 20-year-old boys who will laugh, and they'll growl right back at you. And their roommates are in the background laughing at you and they get right into it," Hampton said. "And then you will have these quiet, little, studious people that will look at you and just won't do it."
Tuition for Eleutian's courses varies with factors like the size of the class and the business that's contracting Eleutian's services. But like any outsourcing company, Eleutian competes aggressively on price. For instance, one weekly one-on-one Internet course from Eleutian costs $150 for a whole semester, while English tutors in Korea charge from $40 to $60 an hour, Holiday said.
Another article says Eleutian is partnered with CDI, one of the big-name hagwon here. Here's the company's official website.