Historical Reasons For The EFL One-to-One Teaching Demand
EFL industry has seen a large demand due to the fact that students feel that the course can be more specifically geared towards their own needs and wants than a group course could. Whilst this is one of the main advantages of one-to-one teaching I would like to offer an alternate theory. However, before doing this, I would like to go back into the history of teaching English to foreign learners.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Desmond V. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
This practice of teaching English to foreign learners did not happen overnight. During the 1960s, when I was in college in Wales, I was part of a group that studied English, French, and Spanish, and on completion of these studies, some of my fellow students decided to travel to Spain to experience the country and its people, and at the same time to teach English to the local population. In those days, no one had heard of Jeremy Harmer or his ESA teaching style, and in all likelihood, my colleagues relied on the grammar-translation methodology.
Over the last fifty years, and, more specifically over the last twenty years, this entire process has mushroomed to the extent that the target teaching area has exploded from Western Europe to practically all parts of the Globe. New teaching methods have been created, and, with all the technological changes that have taken place, and the access to the internet, the teaching aids in terms of materials and equipment have become mind-boggling. Nevertheless, there is one aspect that seems to have remained constant over this period. The demographics of the monolingual teacher has remained almost exclusively the domain of the recently qualified graduate, who has a desire to travel and see other countries, before returning home to settle down to a career and a family, and makes use of the teaching of foreign learners as a means to achieve this end. It is like a sabbatical that is taken after graduation and before final career choices are made. It is the ideal time to make this move, but sadly, it is only possible for those that don’t have family responsibilities and/or financial constraints. As a result, the supply of monolingual teachers to foreign countries has not kept pace with the increase in demand for these teachers.
Impact of Technology
As mentioned previously, the technological advances that have taken place, coupled with the globalization of markets, the reduction or scrapping of tariff barriers and the phenomenal growth of economies in China and The East, has seen international trade between East and West increase exponentially. This has led to a corresponding increase in the demand of people to become more proficient in the global business language of English. In addition, a number of businesses have been relocated from English speaking countries to the East e.g. Call centers, which has increased this demand even further.
The economies of scale brought about by this global market growth, together with computer micro-chip development and new fiber technology, has made it possible to all but the poorest of households to gain access to computers and the internet.
Opportunities for Teachers
As a result, a new online education industry has burgeoned. On the one hand, it has created a platform whereby the demand for new teachers has been addressed in two ways. Firstly, it has allowed individuals aged between 18 and 80 to establish a home based online teaching business that was not previously possible due to time, work and family constraints. Secondly, it has facilitated the education of these individuals to an acceptable standard by opening up the opportunity for businesses to develop online teaching and training facilities, specific to the needs of this industry.
On the other side of the coin, foreign learners now have access to English teachers in the comfort of their own home, which may have been inaccessible to them previously due to lack of teachers and/or facilities in their city or region, or having to attend classes outside of working hours, and which may not have addressed their individual needs. Furthermore, it has opened up a new market in its ability to teach infants in their most formative years, without leaving the security of their home.
Also Read: How To Write The Perfect ESL Lesson Plan
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In summary, therefore, and in line with the research carried out by myself before commencing this course, it is my opinion, that the major portion of one-to-one teaching is being carried out online for the reasons stated above.
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