Teach English in Dagong Zhen - Nantong Shi

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There are plenty of advantages in conducting classes individually. First and foremost, the teacher can focus all of their attention, time and effort on the only student that they have in front of them. Consequently, with so much attention on the student, not a single mistake can slip away unnoticed, which might ensure a quicker progress for the student. Besides, all the difficulties and misunderstandings can also be tackled right away, which will only benefit the student. Finally, spending so much together can help the teacher and the student establish a good relationship, based on trust and mutual understanding. The teacher might have a better grasp of the student’s needs, learning objectives, and even their emotional state in order to adapt the lesson if necessary. With all these advantages in mind, it is important to understand that individual classes have their disadvantages as well. With so much focus from the teacher that the student has to experience, even if the environment is friendly and the student knows that the teacher is forgiving, the student might –mistakenly or not– start to assume that there are academic expectations from the teacher that that the student must meet somehow. That might lead to growing anxiety and even force the student into not enjoying the classes any longer and start playing truant. To make sure that the student does not come to wrong conclusions, it is vital to communicate with them. For the one-on-one classes to work, in addition to being the ‘instructor’ and the 'facilitator", the teacher should also take the role of a 'psychologist' and a 'counsellor' to help the student deal with their personal problems and provide advice whenever necessary. With a high level of trust, the student will feel more at ease and they are more likely to stay motivated and be keen on continuing the lessons. Although there are plenty of activities that can be done alone or in a pair with the teacher, there is a great number of amusing activities that cannot be performed in class due to the lack of participants – the student might start feeling rather bored. For an inexperienced teacher, working with a group of students might be rather complicated and confusing at first. Depending on the age and the cultural background, in addition to the language level, which is most likely to be mixed among the students – all that requires a lot of planning to ensure a well-balanced and entertaining lesson. Teaching groups allows the teacher to come up with all sorts of activities that cannot be performed with an individual student. For both children and adults, the group activities can be role-plays and games, for example, but the list of possibilities is indeed endless. Having a group of students to teach requires carefully performed class management. The voice, gestures, eye contact, and the tone of the voice should be controlled by the teacher to appeal to the students and keep their attention. Children’s attention span is rather short; adults can be tired after work or concentrate on their personal problems instead of the class activities; therefore the teacher’s job is to find a way how to deal with all these distracting factors. Unlike with individual lessons, the teacher has to take the role of a 'policeman' to control the students and maintain discipline in class. Moreover, the classroom arrangement is another factor to consider when teaching a group and coming up with a lesson plan. It is necessary to evaluate the size of the classroom, the number or students, the positioning of the student desks, the position of the teacher and possible changes in positions of both the teacher and the students during some of the activities, especially during the Activate phase; and, most importantly, where the board is and how well it can be seen to all the students depending on where they are in the classroom. One more factor that requires special attention from the teacher is shy students who do not feel comfortable when they are asked to work in a group. Students can be embarrassed of interacting with their peers so the teacher must encourage them somehow so that the student does not lose the benefit of working with peers by shying away. To summarise, in case of working one-on-one, some of the activities– especially the ones that are typical for the Activate phase of the lesson – become impossible to perform and sometimes that can lead to the student experiencing boredom during class. Furthermore, despite all the focus being on one student would usually be considered a positive thing, sometimes it can lead to negative consequences – such as, the student feeling stressed, nervous or anxious, thus losing motivation to study. In contrast, when teaching a group, focusing on every student might be rather hard and some students might not get enough attention to their problems or errors. A lot of pair and group activities become possible to perform in class, however there is a strong chance that at least one student will be shy and will not be willing to participate– that may lead to the loss of the benefits from those activities. Although there are pros and cons of working with students both individually and in a group, what remains the same for the professional teacher either way is the importance of being a good psychologist capable of finding an approach to every single student to ensure the best possible learning experience.