Teaching one to oneAyumi wants conversation. She took basic english
classes in high school and continued with some study in college, but her conversational english
is poor. She is looking for a teacher to help her, but doesn't want to focus on grammar she already knows. You, as the teacher, must be able to weigh her desires with her actual needs to create a useful, interesting class that will make Ayumi ready for any conversation that may occur in english
. Teaching individuals versus groups of students can present more difficulties for the teacher and yet yield clearer results than group-lessons. Some difficulties include turning broad goals into specific lesson plans, creating interesting classes that will keep the student motivated, and handling one-to-one teaching issues which differ from group lessons.
Although Ayumi's goal is to be able to hold an understandable conversation with whoever may speak to her in english
, the process of reaching that goal is up to the teacher. Chatting for an hour twice a week will not challenge the student to understand more vocabulary, grasp and use new or advanced grammar, or improve in reading or writing skills. Giving a thorough needs analysis upon first meeting will be beneficial. According to Teaching english
as a Foreign/Second Language One to One (Jane Dowman and John Sheapherd), a “needs analysis allows the teacher to find out what the student needs from the course in terms of topic areas for vocabulary language, skills and functions. It also means that the teacher can discover how the student likes to learn.” By asking the student what they need to talk about, why they need to speak in english
, or what situations they need in english
, etc., you will help the student define his or her own personal goals and aid you in syllabus construction.
Although students in a one-to-one situation are likely already motivated to learn, language can become frustrating and boredom can set in. The teacher must be ready with plenty of challenging and different material that appeals to the student's interests and won't become mundane or overwhelming. In Teaching english
as a Foreign/Second Language One to One, Downman says, “Some teachers find that they need twice as much material when working one to one.” She goes on to say that activities can be slowed down by reworking the language or rephrasing the student's language, which can improve accuracy. Either way the teacher must be over-prepared incase the lesson goes quickly. In one-to-one situations the student will not want to waste time or money by getting out early! Some ideas include subject cards (such as 'my family' or 'something I'm proud of') and speaking activities with them, reading and reporting, and written conversations for corrections (Onestopenglish.com, Meldrum and Clandfield). Activities for one-to-one situations are limited, as there can be no pair or group work and no classroom dynamics except between teacher and student, but the teacher must not be afraid to try chants, songs, or moving around the class as he or she would in a group (Onestopenglish.com). Any student will appreciate variety.
If the teaching period is long, the intense concentration can become stressful, and the concentration on one individual abnormal. Meldrum's “Ten Tips to Minimizing Disadvantages” mentions that taking a short walk or getting a coffee while the student works will break up the strain. The teacher must also be comfortable with silent periods as the student thinks or works, and help the student to know that silence is acceptable. Other one-to-one issues may be differing personalities, becoming a counselor (when you don't want to be), or lack of materials. Many materials for one-to-one lessons are available on the internet, or the student may supply his or her own. The teacher can also use “counselling” sessions to improve the students english
, and when unappealing personalities come into play, the teacher must remember that sometimes they are looking at what they don't like in themselves!
Teaching individuals can be a challenge, but the rewards of hard work and a good relationship will not be missed.