6 Things to Consider When Teaching English One-to-One

Teaching English One-to-One TESOLAt some point during your teaching career you will probably be approached to give one-to-one classes. In many ways, one-to-one teaching offers benefits to you as the teacher, such as the ability to tailor learning to the specific needs of the student. On the other hand, teaching one-to-one can be physically and mentally exhausting for both you and the student. Here are 6 things that you need to consider when teaching English one-to-one.

1. Find Out What They Want From You – Teaching English One-to-One

Your one-to-one students are likely to be making a considerable financial investment in taking from you, so it’s imperative that you cater to their requirements. Are they looking to improve their presentation skills? Do they need to ask questions during meetings? Conducting a needs analysis before you begin will give you a good idea of areas you should focus on. Agree together on your priorities; be ready to revise these after a period of time, as they might change.

2. Maintain a Professional Relationship – Teaching English One-to-One

An issue that can occur is that you develop a close relationship with your student. You may spend a considerable amount of time in situations where there are only the two of you present and you can become friends over time. While this can facilitate a warm and open learning environment, always maintain an air of professionalism and remind one another, when necessary, that you are providing a service. Use their life as a source of learning, but don’t allow things to get too personal.

3. Always Be Flexible – Teaching English One-to-One

The one thing that can be most challenging about one-to-one students is the need for flexibility. Students are prone to change their schedule at the last minute and you’ll often find you need to accommodate their plans to your lessons. Also, be adaptable in terms of course aims and the kinds of material you use.

4. Use a Variety of Techniques – Teaching English One-to-One

Although the dynamic is different to a class full of students, a lot of activities are just as effective in one-to-one situations. You can use activities such as games, pair work, dialogues, songs, but bear in mind that your role will be much greater than it is in a regular class. Don’t dominate your student in terms of speaking and encourage active listening and regular questioning.

5. Give Realistic Homework Tasks – Teaching English One-to-One

Homework can be a useful tool that your student will value if it is meaningful and practical. You should use homework as a way to get your learner to do things that would waste valuable teaching time, such as learning vocabulary. If your student lives a particularly busy life, give tasks that fit in with what they are doing. For instance, if they read the news while commuting to work, give them a topical English text to read. Always negotiate homework with your one-to-one student and schedule it accordingly; don’t worry about not assigning any when they are too busy.

6. Provide Feedback on Performance – Teaching English One-to-One

One-to-one classes give you many opportunities to give feedback. It is important to spend time working on errors as this will lead to substantial improvements in your student’s performance. As you will spend a lot of time speaking together, use instant feedback to correct errors as and when they occur. Additionally, you might want to record data, either by recording your discussions or noting down errors on paper for example, and use this data in later lessons.

Summing Up – Teaching English One-to-One

Teaching English One-to-One can be an extremely rewarding experience. Nevertheless, it is also a challenge unlike any other, especially as there are very few purpose-made materials out there to help you. The key is to work with your students and involve them in the process of developing lessons that cater to their needs.

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