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How Can Teaching on a One-to-One be Effective?

How Can Teaching on a One-to-One be Effective? | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Teaching on a one to one is a real skill and one that takes many months and even years of experience to be able to become proficient at. It is true to say that no matter how long someone has been teaching on a one to one basis, they will always find new strategies to employ. So, how can one-to-one teaching be effective?

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Tammy T. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

My teaching experience

As a learning support practitioner for the past 18 years, I have had the privilege of teaching countless students on a one to one basis. It is my favorite part of my job as it gives me the chance to get to know my students well, to have some fun and to see them make specific progress. I have seen shy, timid children and reluctant teenagers blossom into confident young people with a love of reading and writing and then seen them apply these skills into all subjects. Only does one-to-one teaching give you, as the teacher, a real personal view of a student’s progress.

Also Read: What is the difference between TESOL and TEFL?

Individual lessons

When it comes to teaching EFL one-to-one teaching is a highly popular method of teaching. Many EFL students are young children who are learning English at the bequest of their parents or guardians. Teaching one-to-one online is different than teaching in a school-based situation but this does not mean it needs to limit the teacher. With the use of today’s incredible technology, (interactive whiteboards, uploads of videos and songs, educational computer games, etc.) online one-to-one teaching can be wonderful.

Rapport building

It is vitally important that the teacher establishes a rapport with their students at the very outset of the course. If the student is a young child then songs and props can be a great ice breaker and this will help the student to relax, to feel at ease and it also encourages instant participation. If the student is an older child or teenager then games can be used and adapted accordingly, again helping both students and teachers to relax. The teacher must take a genuine interest in their students, regardless of age. I have always found that getting to know my student’s likes, dislikes, hobbies, interests and so forth enables me to build a good relationship with them and from this good teaching and therefore good learning can take place.

By knowing a student well, a teacher can adapt teaching materials that grab the student’s interest, which encourages the student to learn and thus make progress as they learn English. This is especially useful when teaching EFL students as the materials will not only hold their interest but it will add to their language vocabulary and their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills.

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Teaching approaches

An effective method of one-to-one teaching is to go at the student’s pace. Over the years I have learned that every student learns at a different rate and that is ok. Whilst it is always good to push students it is never effective to overdo it. The progress that lasts is gradual. The teacher must take into account the student's age, ability and any learning difficulties they may have and adapt accordingly.

One-to-one teaching is so good because students can receive personal feedback on every aspect of the course and this means they tend to progress at a much quicker rate than students who are taught in groups. Feedback must always be encouraging, specific and not overly critical. The teacher does not need to pick up on every mistake a student makes as this would be detrimental to the student’s self-esteem and progress would become very limited. By focusing in on specific areas that need improvement, a teacher can help their student to overcome any problems and to keep moving forward as a successful EFL student.

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Another way to ensure good one-to-one teaching is to make the lessons fun, engaging and purposeful. A teacher shouldn’t be afraid of having a laugh and encouraging their students to do the same, be it through role-play, using props, singing silly songs, playing fun games, etc etc. Students, no matter what age, thrive on fun lessons, they look forward to them and they often make much greater progress than those who are taught rigidly.

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