Although there are not many materials available on teaching one to one lessons, it is becoming very popular in the efl
world. Highly motivated students wish to have a class that is suited towards their individual needs and maximum time spent improving their pronunciation and english
conversation skills with a teacher
s often find this teaching rewarding because they get to spend more time teaching and getting to know a particular student than when they are in a traditional classroom with a larger group of students and must spend a lot of time task-keeping and monitoring behavior.
There is a second, negative side to one-to-one classes as well. While it is great to empower students to assist with their lesson planning and set personal learning goals for themselves, the sense of ownership that a student feels can also lead to numerous last minute cancellations and class time changes. These students' motivations for learning english
are often just as strong in other parts of their life and they can bring the stress from demands of work, family, university or other schoolwork into the classroom. As an article on website One Stop english
says, "One teacher
neatly described the teacher
role as being “blurred” between teacher
, psychologist and friend. One minute learners complain the teacher
is not pushing them to do enough homework and then the next they are talking about work problems or family life."
Another issue that teacher
s with one-to-one students face is managing the expectations of their student. While many students sign up for one-to-one lessons hoping for a class dedicated entirely to conversing in english
, this is ultimately unrealistic for a long term teaching class and is unlikely to actually help a student progress. True, they may find that they become more comfortable speaking with this particular teacher
over time, but given the opportunity to simply pick a topic and discuss it with a native english
speaker or instructor, students are unlikely to choose more than a few topics that they are already interested in and can converse about. A teacher
with a one-to-one class should strive to keep it as well rounded in grammar, vocabulary, reading, writing, and speaking as a more typical one.
So how can a teacher
do this, especially when they have a student or students' parent who insists on a conversation class?
Luckily for teacher
s faced with this dilemma, the lack of formal texts on teaching one-to-one does not extend to the less formal global Internet communities of efl teacher
s. Popular sites like Dave's esl
Cafe, One Stop english
Base, and other country specific teaching websites (in Korea, Waygook.org and Expats4Korea) offer
many ideas for games and activities that will keep students progressing and conversing throughout their one-to-one lessons. Several examples are:
-Conversation on Paper: Have a typical conversation with a student, but only on paper. Instead of taking time out to directly correct student mistakes, word your response to model the proper spelling, grammar or sentence structure. Hopefully your student will pick up on these clues and correct their errors in their next statements.
-Did I Say That?!: Have a student prepare some thoughts on a topic either before or in class. Then, have them present their ideas to you. Here, the teacher
will write down everything the student says and once they are finished, they will review the transcript together. Students should work to pick out their proper sentences and their mistakes.
Letter Writing: This is more of a homework assignment. Write students a letter and give it to them at the end of each class. Assign them the task of writing you back. This keeps a "conversation" going while practicing writing, spelling, and reading comprehension.
Not all students feel a need to practice conversation exclusively and in this case, many activities that a teacher
might use in a group setting work just as well one on one. Sometimes small modifications might be needed or necessary based on areas where a student could use improvement. Pictionary, Charades, Twenty questions
, Guess Who, Taboo, and even just playing traditional board games with students can be a lot of fun for them. They still need to read, use vocabulary or remember facts, understand rules, speak in full sentences, and sometimes sequence events. This kind of lesson or activity is great for unwinding those students who often come to class too stressed to learn.
Although teaching time should be planned just as with a classroom full of students, an instructor with a one-to-one lesson shouldn't feel pressure to be constantly engaged with their student. It can lead to strained, unnatural feeling classes. A teacher
and their student should exercise the right to take a break from one another. This is a time when a student can watch a video clip, listen to a recording, work on a worksheet or writing assignment, or just simply relax outside of the classroom for 5 minutes.
One-to-one teaching methodology does vary some from group classes, but teacher
s must still take notes on students, assess
the skills they have when beginning lessons and evaluate progress throughout their student-teacher
relationship. The teacher
should never be afraid to be a teacher
--take notes on students, keep the student focused, and set learning goals. Overall, a student remaining engaged with the english
language and progressing should be both the student and teacher
's ultimate goals in a one-to-one setting, just as with groups of students.