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Teaching Privately vs. Group Teaching

Teaching Privately vs. Group Teaching | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Learning English is becoming more and more popular due to globalization. Thousands of people around the world choose to learn English for different purposes such as traveling, business, international communication. Attending group lessons at a language school or finding a private tutor is a matter of personal preference and well-being. Both group and one to one lessons have their pros and cons for students and teachers as well. So let's consider the difference between teaching these ways.

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


Teaching individuals may seem an easy task at first glance. However, there are some drawbacks to such lessons. Firstly, students often cancel or postpone such classes for their reasons. Secondly, one to one lessons are less dynamic than group ones. Even if the teacher tries to increase the pace of activities, he risks getting an exhausted student by the middle of the lesson. Individual lessons might become boring and monotonous if the teacher doesn't prepare various materials and sticks only to the coursebook. Finally, it is impossible to do certain kinds of activities which involve group work. During the pair work, the teacher is the only available partner. On the other hand, individual lessons can be quite fruitful and productive.

Normally students who choose such types of learning are highly motivated which makes teaching pleasant. The teacher can adjust the lessons to the student's goals after making a needs analysis. For example, pay more attention to listening or grammar if they are a student's weak points. What's more, the pace of learning/teaching can be adapted in each case. Also, one to one lessons usually provide a more comfortable atmosphere for students who are shy or embarrassed about their mistakes. It is easier to maintain a good relationship with one student than with the whole group. There is a wide range of activities for individual lessons. Reading authentic materials, grammar exercises, videos, storytelling, quizzes, and crosswords are suitable. The main point is to meet the student's needs and avoid monotony.

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Group Teaching

There are lots of different group types: monolingual and multilingual, existing and new, large and small. Regardless of all these factors, there are several rules applicable to any type. To begin with, the teacher should try to establish rapport with students. A friendly and relaxed atmosphere encourages students. Besides, the teacher has to conduct a survey or make a questionnaire to define the students' needs. It can be made in different ways like filling in standard forms or answering questions in pairs with further written or oral feedback. Doubtless, the teacher has to deal with discipline, organize the seating, control the class. One of the advantages of group lessons is the opportunity to use a wide variety of activities.

Group discussions, pair work, board games, surveys make lessons more interesting and lively. They also increase students' talking time. Furthermore, the change in activities makes classes more dynamic and keeps students engaged. Competition in a group motivates students and encourages them to work harder. Nevertheless, teachers may face several issues with groups. One of the most frequent problems is different language levels within one group. Moreover, students may not have the same social or cultural background which should be considered while preparing materials. Almost every group has shy students who are reluctant to participate in speaking activities. Teachers should be sensitive and patient to involve those students without much pressure. Mistake correction is to be made tactfully as some students fear looking stupid in the eyes of their classmates.

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To conclude one can say that both teaching groups and individuals can pose certain difficulties for the teacher. Both ways of teaching involve a great deal of lesson preparation, teacher's patience, attention, and common sense. In my opinion, either of these methods can be effective as long as the teacher and the student work hard.

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