For an inexperienced teacher, what’s it like teaching one to one?

There are some key differences between group classes and individual lessons:

  • Adults who opt for 1-1 lessons tend to be more motivated, as they are probably willing to pay much more than the cost of doing the lesson in a group. Their motivation is also likely to motivate you too. However, despite their enthusiasm, they may not know exactly what they need from your lessons.
  • You will be able to give the student your full attention and concentrate on their specific needs. 1-1 lessons are very useful for those students who have pronunciation problems, or who are very shy and would be reluctant to talk in a group lesson.
  • Given that there is just one teacher and one student, you both have to take responsibility for making the lesson a success. In a conversation lesson, this entails you having a lot of questions up your sleeve that you can ask your student. You’ll soon find that you are constantly feeding them new questions, so you always need to be one question ahead!
  • Your relationship with the student will be much more intense than a typical classroom relationship. You may well end up becoming friends or becoming their amateur therapist!

If you are interested teaching 1:1, then you might like my book.

The text below was written by a young female teacher in her first year of teaching after getting a TEFL qualification. It gives you a few insights into the pros and cons of 1-1s.

One-to-one lessons have a completely different dynamic to teaching a group or classroom of students, in both positive and challenging ways. It can be a great way to get to know someone and really help them improve their personal quest to learn English. Normally taking time to get to know them in the first lesson means you can understand what they would like from the lesson, where they need to improve, and what their strengths are.

Often individuals have an agenda for themselves and this can really help you when you are preparing for your lessons for them “I really want to improve my pronunciation” for example. You can then tailor your lessons to suit the student, leaving them feeling satisfied that they have got the attention they needed to focus on their specific problem areas.

One-to-one teaching is a great way to get to know different people and learn about different cultures that perhaps you do not get on the same level in a classroom. A possible downside of one-to-one teaching is that it requires a lot more energy than teaching an entire classroom. When you have a group – you can get them to do pair work or group discussions, where you can take a little bit of a breather and think about the next part of the lesson. When it is an individual, you constantly have to be “on” for at least an hour, if not more.

You perhaps might have someone whose personality is a bit difficult, someone who is very shy and does not like talking so much, and it could be hard work to draw out conversation from them or help them to be involved in the lesson. If you are having a bad day, it can also be hard to have a lot of energy for an extended period of time.

If you are a younger teacher, it potentially could feel intimidating to work with older students. However, I don’t feel that age plays much of a part if both teacher and student are open to each other and hold each other in respect.

I think it is also important to understand your boundaries when working one-to-one with students. Particularly if you are a woman, it is important to feel safe and secure if you are working with a male student. It is always good to know if other people are in the building or close by.

Adrian Wallwork

Categories: 1:1