The Teaching Dilemma: Group vs. One-to-One Lessons
As someone who currently teaches both one-to-one students and groups of students, I find it easier to discuss this topic based on my personal experience.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author, an alumni of ITTT (International TEFL and TESOL Training). They do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of ITTT. The content provided in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as official endorsement or representation by ITTT.
Personally, although I do enjoy group lessons, I find one-to-one lessons more satisfying as a teacher. I believe the same is often felt by some students.
Firstly, in my group classes, there is usually a mix of nationalities and cultures. While this makes the subjects more varied to talk about, it requires more effort and sensitivity when teaching, including avoiding certain subjects that could be deemed taboo or difficult.
Secondly, when it comes to teaching grammar, the amount of work covered per lesson in a group is definitely less, as you need more time to ensure each student has understood and can put the new grammar into practice.
Thirdly, the amount of talk time for each student is much less in a group lesson than in a one-to-one lesson. Each person in the group should be given an equal amount of time to express themselves orally, whereas with an individual student, there is a great deal of talk time, allowing the student to improve much quicker due to extensive practice and having more time to ask questions, check for understanding, etc.
Also, when it comes to group lessons, there is a greater need for physical resources to be available for distribution around the class, such as printed worksheets, coursebooks, etc. With a one-to-one student, the cost is lower as resources for only one person are required.
When teaching a group, especially a varied level and mixed-nationality group, there are far more dynamics at play in terms of students talking amongst each other, reverting to their native language, and influencing each other regarding their satisfaction level, boredom, and more.
Regarding homework assignments, I find that group students are less likely to complete them, as they rely on those who do their homework to give the answers in class for them. With an individual student, there is no option for relying on others to do the homework, so they are more involved in the task.
Lastly, the individual attention to the student in terms of their personal learning needs is far more greatly addressed in an individual setup than in a group class. Time can be spent with the individual student focusing on their difficulties, reviewing work where needed, and adapting the lessons to their possibly evolving needs in the workplace or in their daily life.
On the downside of one-on-one classes, the student may often not be available or committed to attending all sessions, due to work or other commitments, and occasionally they are tired, as they have their lessons outside of their normal work hours.
I also understand that for some students, they are more comfortable in a group setup than in individual lessons, due to them either being shy to talk alone or needing a group environment for more speaking and interaction.
While I am happy to teach both types of lessons, all in all, I believe that one-to-one lessons are more flexible and in-depth, allowing for maximum needs to be met.
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