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The Specifics, Advantages, and Disadvantages of Teaching English One-to-One

The Specifics, Advantages, and Disadvantages of Teaching English One-to-One | ITTT | TEFL Blog

One to one lessons offers a big area for unique possibilities and unique challenges at the same time. Nevertheless, many teachers have to teach one to one classes at some point in their career. Teaching to only one person means developing an individual approach, materials, and strategy.

This essay will discuss how this type of teaching is different and what are the advantages and disadvantages of it. Also, it will provide some useful tips that will be helpful while teaching one to one.

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


Teaching one to one implies no mixed language levels in the class, which is one of the challenges that a group teacher has to face. However, the classroom management is still present and it is important to set up the classroom appropriately, the teacher should decide in advance, where a teacher and a student may sit and what kind of learning environment to create. Another difference between one to one learning is timing. Since this type of teaching is mostly private, a teacher can adjust pace and materials to the needs of a student. Teaching one to one assumes adaptation of extensive materials to personal needs and also, in some cases development of the learning material together with a student is encouraged. Also, the lesson’s length and schedule usually are very flexible as well. Moreover, while teaching one to one lessons, some intimacy of interaction takes place and a teacher can get to know a student better. Therefore, this type of teaching assumes equal decision-making process about the class.

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Here is the list of advantages of teaching English one to one:

  • Since there is only one student in the class, he/she gets undivided teacher’s attention. It helps for a better understanding of the learner’s needs and the students get feedback on the learning process faster.
  • The student has more control over the pace of the lessons, materials and etc.
  • One to one is a good opportunity for the real interaction, where the student can use the teacher as a resource for answering questions and practicing speaking.
  • The teacher can work independently and earn more.
  • The teacher doesn’t have to worry about group dynamics, late arrivals, discipline and etc.


  • It may be difficult to measure the students’ progress, without other students to compare with or without the syllabus.
  • Some students feel more comfortable making mistakes together with other students, not alone in front of the teacher.
  • Also, there is the human factor plays a role and the teacher and learner may not get on well and therefore classes can be exhausting for both.
  • Constantly new approaches have to be developed, otherwise, the classes may get boring in the long term.
  • It may be challenging to find and adopt the right materials for the personal needs of the student.

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There are some suggestions that I can give after one year of teaching one to one and after completing the TESOL course.

At the very first lesson, a needs analysis should be completed. It is crucial to know the students’ learning aims, language problems and also practical things that can have an impact on the learning process e.g. time schedule, workload, etc. Also, after some time of teaching one to one classes with the same people, the classes may get boring. Therefore, it is also important to change materials, approaches, activities, and techniques, to make classes more fun.

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Also, the teacher should try to adapt activities and materials to the students’ experience, so the student can experience the language itself.

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