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Tutoring in TEFL Teaching

Tutoring in TEFL Teaching | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Teaching English to an individual student is a common form of EFL classroom setting nowadays. Luckily, I happened to have the chance to work as a one-to-one English tutor before. Although I was a novice English teacher at that time, the experience of teaching one to one certainly helped me develop as a teacher and gave me a new perception of English teaching. There were some challenges I faced as a novice English tutor which I did not know how to solve, but now after self-evaluation and taking TESOL course, I gained a deeper understanding on teaching one to one and how to solve the problems in class.

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

Setting up goals

Since there is only one student in the class, the main goal of teaching is to meet the student’s need. Therefore, a needs analysis can be very helpful at the beginning of the class. Using a needs analysis, the teacher can get a basic idea of the student’s language proficiency level, motivations, preference. and goals of learning English. The teacher can use that information to make a lesson plan and design suitable learning activities. In this way, the teacher can use the appropriate teaching approach to help student with English.

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Anticipated problems

I faced a similar challenge when I was working as a private English tutor for a 14-year-old middle school student. My student was quite young and not so sure about which aspect he wanted me to help with, and the expectation from the parent was different than the student’s self-assessment. I did not have time to prepare for a complete needs analysis and diagnostic test, thus the teaching process was interrupted multiple times due to student’s lack of interest and confusion. If I had more time and was better prepared back then, I would have conducted a thoughtful needs analysis or had a conference with both the student and the parent. This experience taught me a valuable lesson on the importance of constructing one to one lesson based on student’s individual need.

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Also, it is very important to form a good rapport between teacher and student in a one-to-one EFL classroom. Since the teacher’s attention is focusing on the only student all the time, the student may develop high self-consciousness that could reduce the learning efficiency, especially if the student is naturally shy or introvert. Establishing good rapport and a close teacher-student relationship can help lower the pressure and anxiety level, thus it could help a student become more confident and comfortable to voluntarily get involved in learning activities.

Personal experience

Last summer, I worked as an English tutor to help a high school senior student preparing for his college entrance exam. The student was very shy and had low confidence in English, more important is, he was sent by his parents to English tutoring thus had relatively low motivation in learning.

Although his language proficiency level was decent, he was afraid of reading aloud and answering questions in front of teaching he was not familiar with. I spent the first few lessons to encourage him and get him engaged in learning. I selected various learning activities to avoid boredom and used positive language to respond even when correcting his mistakes. Gradually, the student became more comfortable with the class and started to perform better with a positive learning attitude. This example well illustrated how establishing good rapport is critical in a one-to-one EFL classroom.

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Checking progress

Furthermore, consistently checking student’s learning progress is very important when teaching the individual student. In a one-to-one EFL classroom, a lesson plan is more flexible and the teacher should adjust the plan based on the student’s learning progress. One advantage of teaching one to one is that there is no proficiency gap in class, thus the teacher should be able to use mini-quiz, written reflection, or homework review to monitor student’s progress and adjust teaching to fit the needs of the student.

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In summary, teaching English to the individual student requires the teacher to have a deeper understanding of student’s need, establish a good rapport with the student, and be more flexible in planning lesson. With these requirements in mind, I believe that I can become a better EFL teacher and be more helpful for my students in the future.

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