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Teaching Private Classes vs. Working With Bigger Groups

Teaching Private Classes vs. Working With Bigger Groups | ITTT | TEFL Blog

This essay will focus on the differences between one-to-one teaching and group teaching. With both teaching approaches, there are advantages as well as disadvantages.

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

Private Lessons

Recently, there has been an increase in demand for one-to-one lessons, particularly within the business industry (Teaching Special Groups, Unit 19). Students feel they are receiving a service tailored to their wants and needs than that of a group lesson would.

Furthermore, teaching one-to-one allows the teacher to create a plan that directly suits the learners' needs; for example, vocabulary based on a certain topic or theme and/or the teacher can deliver a lesson on what the student wants and what the teacher thinks he/she needs to know. Furthermore, the teacher is able to respond to the student’s ability, whereby, the lessons can be managed at the student’s pace of learning.

Moreover, the teacher will be dealing with an individual student and would not be faced with the obstacle of mixed abilities that are typically seen in a group situation. Therefore, the teaching content will be directly personalized to the student’s needs, which in return increases the chances of having a highly motivated student. If both teacher and student are responding well, a close relationship develops, favoring both parties, as last-minute cancellations are a common occurrence with one-to-one lessons, this development can refrain this from happening.

Also Read: 6 Tips to Be an Inspiration to Your Students

Choice of Activities

The teacher will have to adopt certain activities to cater for one-to-one teaching. Usually, amongst group teaching, there is a strong emphasis on pair and group work, which naturally creates a fun learning atmosphere. It’s therefore essential, the teacher ensures the student is constantly interested and engaged; this could be in the form of allowing the student to hold free conversations occasionally, or build vocabulary on a topic they’re particularly interested in.

Group Teaching

Like one-to-one, group teaching also has its advantages and disadvantages. Group teaching allows the teacher to construct activities that involve the whole class, larger groups and paired work. The teacher would need to consider the set-up and the logistics of the classroom, for example, managing the classroom in a way where students are comfortable, safe and eager to learn by creating a nurturing and approachable atmosphere yet organized for the teacher to maintain discipline and control of the class.

Targeting the whole class creates a sense of belonging amongst the group and it allows students to interact freely with other class members. This approach is suitable where the teacher needs full attention and control of the whole class, for example, the “drilling” technique, an accuracy-based activity, where the whole class repeats the word or phrase together. This method is particularly suitable for shy students, giving them a friendly environment to practice pronunciation and any mistakes won’t be apparent.

Furthermore, working in pairs can significantly increase the chances of student talking time, where students can share their ideas and thoughts in a comfortable and safe environment before sharing with the whole class. Teachers can use a student to student interaction to their advantage by pairing up stronger students to help support weaker ones. On the contrary, this grouping method could counteract, as students may be inclined to speaking in their native language and avoid using English altogether, particularly in a monolingual class.

Also Read: Do I need a degree to teach English abroad?

Communicative Approach

Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), is the communicative approach that emphasizes the importance of language functions (Learning Techniques, Unit 3). The CLT approach ties closely with the guided activities, where the output is controlled by the teacher, for example, a guided roleplay or model dialogue; ideally, students are required to use the language in real life situations. To further build on the student’s creativity; fluency-based activities such as scenario created free role-play, discussions and debates are appropriate; noting accuracy isn’t a key feature during these sessions, the emphasis is on the student’s fluency. Moreover, Community Language Learning (CLL), is an approach where students choose what topic they would like to talk about and language used in a group setting. This methodology has assisted teachers to derive lessons as student-centered focused as possible.

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In conclusion, teaching one-to-one and in groups has its benefits and drawbacks, however, with both approaches, the teacher needs to create interesting, fun and interactive lessons that will entice the students into learning. Additionally, there’s a dominant factor whereby both approaches have permitted for student-led activities and learning. It would be ideal for a student learning a new language to have both one-to-one lessons as well as a group lesson in order to reap the benefits of both.

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