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This is how our TEFL graduates feel they have gained from their course, and how they plan to put into action what they learned:
Teaching one to oneWhen most esl students start learning English for the first time, they typically start lessons in a group setting. The biggest reason for this is that they usually start learning English in the Elementary or Middle school. The students are accustomed to studying in groups from an early age. This group classroom dynamic is something that is continued in most English school because there are many advantages to it. However, in more recent years there is a higher demand for one to one ESL lessons especially in the business world. Part of the reason is that students feel that they will receive a more custom crafted English course instead of a strict English course that most group lessons follow. I am currently working in italy
as an esl teacher
and I have a lot of personal experience teaching one to one lessons as well as group lessons with adults and adolescents. As with everything there are always advantages and disadvantages to different teaching methods but there is a unique difference in teaching groups that I believe is overall more effective.
This year I have been teaching many different individual lessons with students of all ages. Every week I meet with 3 different children for individual lessons to help them improve their English skills. One of things that I have noticed during my one to one lessons with children is that there are less distractions. I currently do lessons with a 5th grader to help him with his overall comprehension skills and I have seen great improvements over the course of a year. I try to keep lessons light and entertaining because its possible for younger students to more easily lose motivation. Even if I see great improvements teaching one on one lessons with children, there is always a lack of varying group activities. I suggested to have my 5th grade student switch into a group course but the mother was not interested. I notice that when children are in group lessons, even if there are more distractions, they tend to learn more because they are able to participate in group activities which are usually more interesting and stimulating. In individual lessons a child is forced to communicate with the teacher which can be intimidating and less interesting due to the differences in age. Overall, teaching children in individual lessons does not work as efficiently as group lessons because a child usually feels more support and comfort with students their own age.
In addition to teaching individual lessons with children, I also teach private lessons with adults. In this atmosphere a student is really able to attend a course which is more catered to their individual needs. These types of lessons also give students ample opportunities to improve their conversation skills which is always a big request amongst esl students. However, some of the problems that I have witnessed in teaching private adult lessons is that the teachers role tends to switch between teacher, friend and psychologist. The teacher tends to stop pushing their student with new material and homework assignments and rather talks about work problems or family life. It can also be difficult to measure progress because there are no other students to compare with. It is also easy for lessons to become monotonous if a teacher lacks the confidence to change the pace and type of activity.
One to one lessons, as I have witnessed, are not absolutely horrible but they run the risk of becoming boring and stagnant. To the contrary, I have found that group lessons have been more effective overall. The activities that we can do in class are limitless because we are able to do pair work, group work, and even individual work. Also the class discussions and speaking exercises are much more varied and interesting due to the fact that students are coming from all different walks of life. Lessons can be more entertaining because there are a wide variety of games and activities that can be played in class. Overall, teaching group lessons is much easier and enjoyable coming from a teachers standpoint. Obviously students don?t have a personalized individual lesson or as much conversation time as private lessons, but I believe that students in a group lesson have more fun in class. Having fun in class makes a great environment and keeps motivation high.