Tips on Teaching Reading to EFL Students One-to-One
Reading is one of the two receptive language skills that might seem easier to teach. When learning to read in a foreign language, a student doesn't have to deal with accents or pronunciation problems, as it often happens with speaking and listening. What's more, learning reading skills does not necessarily imply high teacher participation and can generally be done independently. Much as with writing, it might seem tempting to relegate most of reading to homework, especially in one-to-one teaching. The easier way isn't always the best one, and paying enough attention to this aspect of English during one's lessons offers many benefits.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Vasilii P. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
The first benefit is the opportunity to choose reading material that caters to an individual student's interests and needs. Thus, students and teachers can focus on authentic materials, which are generally more exciting and help build students' confidence. Moreover, carefully selected texts serve as great prompts for Engage and Activate lesson stages and help cover a wide variety of topics.
Training to Predict
The second benefit is the chance to purposefully train a student's predictive skills, which can take too much time with groups of students but is entirely possible when there's only one. Good predictive skills help students get a better "feel" of the language and encourage them to remember and use new vocabulary on the go.
The third essential benefit is working on students' pronunciation, which offers an excellent alternative to drilling (which can be too dull or discouraging if a student makes too many mistakes in a row) or studying phonology (which requires too much time). Reading texts aloud is a simple technique that helps form a habit of speaking correctly instead of merely remembering the correct pronunciation for every specific word.
Challenges for Teachers
While all these benefits speak in favor of paying more heed to read in one-to-one lessons, several potential issues are associated with this approach.
First, students tutored in a one-to-one format generally expect more attention from a teacher and more teacher participation, so focusing on tasks that they could have possibly done by themselves may be confusing. Therefore, every job's purpose (and the approach in general) shall be clearly explained to them.
Secondly, when spending a considerable amount of study time reading, the choice of materials becomes all the more important. The texts should be carefully selected about students' interests and level of English and such aspects as vocabulary and grammar. Many classical books use exotic or outdated language, which may confuse the students and inhibit their study of conventional grammar.
Finally, reading texts in the classroom does not cancel the importance of home reading. While the benefits mentioned above are quite noteworthy, fostering a habit of reading in English on one's own is still one of the most efficient teaching methods available and by no means should be neglected.
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To sum up, placing a considerable focus on reading during one-to-one lessons seems to be a viable approach. The teacher is ready to address the associated issues. With due preparation and planning, this method can be adjusted to meet students' needs of various levels and ages and manage many aspects of English, including those that are not generally associated with reading.
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