• The Difference Between Teaching One to One and Groups


    In the words of one-to-one pioneer, Peter Wilberg, 'One-to-one teaching is different'.

    (Teaching one to one: Mark Powell, oxford TEFL.) Most TEFL courses and language schools are geared towards teaching students in groups, so many teachers find it difficult to adapt there skills to one to one teaching. Many, perhaps most, of the personal and pedagogical skills we have developed as language teachers relate almost exclusively to working with groups.

    It has been suggested that most students prefer one to one teaching as opposed to being taught as a group. For teachers it can prove very challenging, as expectations tend to be high from the students view point, students and teachers may feel uncomfortable in a one to one situation, and the training we have received doesn’t prepare us for the situation.

    One of the biggest complaints and differences between teaching one to one and groups is the lack of ELT material available for one to one teaching. The resource bank for group teaching tends to be a lot more extensive. On the other hand the resources available to teachers to teach a group appear vast.

    One teacher neatly described the teacher role as being “blurred” between teacher, psychologist and friend. One minute learners complain the teacher is not pushing them to do enough homework then the next they are talking about work problems or family life. (Nicola Meldrum, with ideas and activities by Lindsay Clandfield


    Advantages and disadvantages for teachers).

    One of the main differences between teaching one to one and groups is that in a one to one lesson we can tailor the class towards the needs, level and capability of the student. We can also teach around topics or situations that the student is familiar with and enjoys. Students can even help to prepare there lesson by supplying materials to aid the lesson. We as teachers can learn something too. Students can teach us about their interests, work and experiences. . (Nicola Meldrum, with ideas and activities by Lindsay



    Advantages and disadvantages for teachers).

    During a one to one lesson a teacher can focus most of his/her time and energy on addressing the student’s needs and the student will certainly benefit from the increase in attention. Certainly the student will get more attention from the teacher then in a group setting, especially a large group of mixed ability.

    The increase in attention towards the student can also be an intimidating situation for both teacher and student. One common comment is “When else would we spend ninety minutes talking constantly to one person? (Nicola Meldrum, with ideas and activities by

    Lindsay Clandfield http://www.onestopenglish.com/Business/
     Advantages and disadvantages for teachers).

    .One of the major differences is the decrease in the range of activities a teacher can use. This means no pair or group work, which can be a bit monotonous for the teacher, and the student. This may also take the fun out of learning for the student. Student/ teacher personality differences or opposing opinions can make life difficult as teachers are afraid to respond to comments they strongly disagree with. Often schools don’t give a syllabus for one-to-one classes so it is more difficult to record and show progress to the student.

    On the whole there appears to be major differences between teaching one to one and groups. Certainly they both have there advantages and disadvantages for both student and teachers. It is important as teachers that we both adapt and use the skills we have to make both one to one and group learning interesting and fun.

    Paul Mavin.