Group Teaching or One-to-One: What Will You Choose?
Teaching a group or having private lessons can be as beneficial as challenging. Let’s try to understand which kind of teaching is more suitable for us.
This post was written by our ITTT graduate Catalina R.
Advantages of Group Teaching
Teaching large classes has many advantages. A large class offers a greater variety of activities. The teacher can have students work alone, in pairs, in groups or as a class. This allows the focus to be placed on the students instead of the teacher. Pair or group work helps motivate the students because they share their doubts and ideas in a safe environment among peers. It can also challenge students because the weaker students will become better speakers by talking to the more advanced students (Verner, 2013). When teaching vocabulary and pronunciation to larger classes, a teacher must use choral repetition. This technique is useful because it allows the students to practice the word in unison with their classmates with no pressure or anxiety. This helps the individual gain confidence in their pronunciation before the teacher selects students to say the word alone to make sure the pronunciation is accurate. Lastly, teaching large classes means a melting pot of different personalities, backgrounds, and interests. This mix forms more interesting and creative discussions and classes because the teacher can choose from a range of topics and subjects when preparing the lessons.
Disadvantages of Group Teaching
When teaching large classes, the teacher may also face many problems and disadvantages. The teacher must try to create a rapport with all students. In order to do this, he or she must learn the students’ names, interests, backgrounds, and strengths, and weaknesses when learning English. This can be overwhelming and difficult for teachers to accomplish. The variety of personalities can also create disciplinary problems (Humphreys, 2018). The teacher must create classroom rules and guidelines early on for students to understand what behavior is deemed acceptable. This can make students intimidated and nervous about forming a relationship with the teacher. Lastly, when having a large classroom the levels of English can vary from student to student. This creates difficulties when trying to plan lessons for a class as a whole. This can result in the teacher separating the students in groups according to their pace or ability (Humphreys, 2018). Doing this can cause students in the lower levels to be insecure about their English and discourage them from participating in class discussions or activities.
Pros to Teach One-to-One
When it comes to Individual or one-to-one teaching, there are also advantages. A one-to-one environment, allows the teacher to solely focus on the student. In the first lesson, the teacher should give the student a questionnaire or needs analysis asking the student’s motivation to learn English, strengths, and weaknesses in the language, and hobbies or interests (Unit 19 Special Groups. (n.d.)). This allows the teacher to understand the student and formalize lesson plans tailored to the individual. This creates a personalized learning experience that keeps the student intrigued and motivated. Individual teaching is also informal because it has a flexible schedule and can vary in location. The student and teacher can decide which time and location work best for both parties creating a comfortable and safe environment. Lastly, the student and teacher will create a close relationship since the teacher will be his partner in all of the activities. Creating a comfortable environment encourages the student to ask questions and not feel embarrassed when the teacher corrects him or her.
Cons to Teach One-on-One
Although teaching one-to-one has many advantages, teachers must be wary about the problems and disadvantages they may face. When teaching one-to-one, the teacher’s attention will only be focused on the student. This can cause students to become intimidated and nervous and can discourage him or her to ask questions or speak English with the teacher. The decrease in the range of activities can also be overwhelming for both the student and teacher (Unit 19 Special Groups. (n.d.)). Since there are no classmates, the teacher must be the students' partner for every activity. Although this can create a close relationship for some, it can also make other teachers uncomfortable since most were not trained for these types of sessions and there are few materials available for teaching individual lessons (The difference between, n.d.). Lastly, the teacher’s role may also include being a psychologist and friend (The difference between, n.d.). If the teacher is not comfortable with the added roles, he or she must set boundaries in the first lesson which can create tension and discourage the student to build any sort of rapport with the teacher.
Are You Ready to Teach ESL Students?
Teaching large groups and one-to-one are very different and both have advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the teacher and the student, one to one or group teaching can be more effective and comfortable for both parties. It is the job of the student and the teacher to learn what is most effective for them.
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