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The Extreme Difference Between Teaching Individual Students and Groups

The Extreme Difference Between Teaching Individual Students and Groups | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Throughout this course and my professional career as an online English teacher, I have learned that there are many differences between teaching one to one, but to teaching to groups of students as well. I work with an online company, and I teach one to four students that live in China for about thirty minutes daily. Each lesson is different with different students every time, so I get to experience a wide variety of students at different levels every day. However, the content of the lesson can differ greatly depending on if I have one or four students in that class. My teaching can change drastically by the number of students I have assigned to certain classes.

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

Effectiveness of Personal Approach

When it comes to teaching just one student, I can help that student grow and understand the English language personally and more effectively. In my lessons, I am allotted thirty minutes with these students, usually somewhere between the ages of 5-10, and I usually teach a vocabulary or grammar lesson. Just the other day, I taught a lesson to a single student named Tanner about how to give advice on health issues using "should do". He was at an intermediate level. Tanner already knew the concept of using "should do" in a sentence, but I was able to teach him some new vocabulary phrases: have a rest, stay in bed, see a doctor, see a dentist, and take some medicine. He had a hard time understanding the difference between when someone should have a rest or stay in bed, along with understanding the difference between seeing a doctor or a dentist. I can usually cover all the material for these lessons, but since he was the only student in the class that day, I was able to explain in simpler terms to him about the differences between those phrases he was having trouble understanding. I was also able to practice and play more study and activate games with him because I only had to focus on making sure that only one student fully understood the lesson's objective.

group of students

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Small Groups for Equal Attention

I usually teach three or four students in my lessons, so I have to focus that I can cover all the material while making sure that I can give each student enough attention that they need to fully understand the materials presented to them. Recently, I taught three students that were at an elementary level. I did not teach them any new vocabulary words or skills, but I did assess them with a progressive test based on buying different foods in a grocery store with Chinese currency. Since these students already knew the material and understood how to buy something in a grocery store in the English language, I had to make sure that these students could easily pronounce the words and sentences presented to them. It was not as easy to focus on one student like it was with Tanner in the previously mentioned lesson. However, I was able to assess these students on how well they held a conversation with each other in a role-playing game. Not only was I able to assess them on their speaking skills, but I was also able to give these students a chance to interact with each other by having them act as a customer and a worker in a grocery store.

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Teaching can differ immensely when there is only one student or there is a larger amount of students. As I have learned throughout this course and as well as my teaching career, teaching one student can get very personal because I can take my time making sure that he or she understands the curriculum. I cannot give that personal attention to my students if there is more than one student, but I can have them interact with one another throughout different stages of a lesson. Teaching one student can be very different from teaching a group of students, but they both are beneficial in their own ways.

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