Teaching students one to one Teaching English as a foreign language


Teaching English as a foreign language can be done one of two ways: teaching a group of students or by teaching on a one-to-one basis. It's estimated that up to 40% of TEFL teaching is done one-to-one, however teachers find it increasingly difficult to find relevant material, advice and assistance on the method. Nicola Meldrum argues that teaching one-to-one 'unfortunately is not covered much in ELT discussion' and that 'It is somehow assumed that teaching English as a foreign language means organizing huge groups of students, while the reality is that one to one is a normal and significant part of our teaching lives' . Teachers are in effect left to their own devices; however this doesn't stop the concept of teaching one- to-one being an effective and advantageous method for both the teacher and student.

As there is only one student, it means that there is only one level of ability which allows Teachers to plan effectively. The planning stage is made easier as teachers can 'select material we are sure will interest and motivate the student' . However, there is still room for flexibility, Catherine Fuchs argues that you still have to think on your feet in that it is 'easier to hear where a student is and to pick up at that point and figure out how to help him or her move forward' . It's not just one way either, the teachers can also learn something from the students 'students can teach us about their interests, works and experiences'

As far as the students are concerned it is good for them in that the students can go through the syllabus at their own pace without interference from other students who could be going too fast or too slow. So the focus moves onto the students and as a student called Meg Grow pointed out 'At a lecture I can sit and absorb the information. But with one-on-one learning, if I don't hold my end of the bargaining, then no learning goes on.' Teaching one-to-one therefore ensures that students will prepare and understand the information better. The students can still enjoy themselves not with the 'banter' of a group class, but with the teacher instead and therefore one-to-one teaching can be just as fun. Brian Chow a student said 'sometimes. She will talk about her dogs and I'll tell her about school. In some lessons we just can't stop laughing'

There are obviously flaws as there are in any teaching methodologies however there are more than enough advantages for the practice to have a more extensive bank of material and assistance to go with it. Nicola Meldrum argues that there is only one real handbook 'One to One Teacher's handbook (1987) by Peter Willberg and 'while looking through published material on Languauge Teaching I failed to find any sections on teaching one to one, while there was lots of advice on the classroom management of groups' . Being such an important concept there is certainly room for development.

'Teaching one-to-one' by Nicola Meldrum - www.onestopenglish.com/Business/One-to-one/one-to-one/index.htm 'Teaching one-to-one' by Nicola Meldrum - www.onestopenglish.com/Business/One-to-one/one-to-one/index.htm 'Teaching one-to-one' by Nicola Meldrum - www.onestopenglish.com/Business/One-to-one/advantages for the student 'Faculty discuss one-on-one work with students' by Ellen Granberg ' www.vanderbilt.edu/cft/resources/cft_newsletters/spring 2001/faculty_one_on_one.htm 'Teaching one-to-one' by Nicola Meldrum - www.onestopenglish.com/Business/One-to-one/advantages for the student 'Faculty discuss one-on-one work with students' by Ellen Granberg ' www.vanderbilt.edu/cft/resources/cft_newsletters/spring 2001/students_one_on_one.htm