Teaching 1-on-1 vs groupsWhen people go to school to become a teacher, they are likely studying to be a elementary school teacher, a high school teacher, or maybe even a university professor. On the contrary, not many people go to school thinking, "I want to teach people one-on-one for a living!" However, in the world of Teaching english
as a Foreign Language (TEFL), one-on-one teaching is becoming very common and big business. According to TEFLcorp.com, up to forty percent of TEFL teaching
is done one-to-one. That means there is a huge need for teachers who need to not only know how to teach, but how to teach to one person at a time. This paper researches the differences between teaching one-to-one, as opposed to groups, and it all boils down to two main areas: customization of course and group dynamics.
Here is an easy question. Is it easier to customize a course for one student, or for twenty students? The answer is obvious. A one-to-one teacher has an opportunity to have his curriculum specifically customized to the needs and wants of the student (ITTT Unit 19, p. 4). Even if you have twenty kids in the same grade, and hypothetically the same birthday, their language levels will all vary. With one student, the teacher only has to focus on what his one student's abilities are. The one-to-one teacher can develop a closer relationship with the student, and as the class progresses, adapt quickly, whereas it may take a while to change a curriculum in a group setting because more people are learning. According to Ellen Fanning, Stevenson Professor of Molecular Biology and Chair of the Department of Molecular Biology and Vanderbilt University, one-to-one teaching is the only way to teach. "I think that the one-on-one teaching is where the most teaching and learning takes place, and that the one-to-many sort of teaching is – I don’t know if this is too strong – a necessary evil to compact an enormous amount of information into bite-sized modules that will give a large number of people a starting point" (Vanderbilt Center for Teaching Newsletter, Spring 2001). Not only can you customize easier to the ability level of the one-to-one student, but also his preferences. According to TEFLcorp.com, it is "easier to choose materials for the students because you know what they like." However, OxfordTEFL.com states that one-to-one students will likely have higher expectations of the class, and if they don't feel like they are performing and blame the teacher, an encounter is likely. It can be both good and bad
Group dynamics are also quite different when it comes to one-to-one teaching and teaching in groups. When a teacher has a large group, he can do many activities, break students up into pairs, into small groups, or split the class up between boys and girls. You can have twenty kids, but also have twenty different ways to have class. A teacher loses those opportunities when he is teaching to just one student (ITTT Unit 19, p. 4). Any time there is a "group activity", the partner of the one-on-one student can only be the teacher. In regards to tiredness, it will all depend on the teacher. Some teachers are drained by big groups and energized working with individuals, and vice versa. Michael Aurbach, Associate Professor of Fine Arts at Vanderbilt, may prefer to teach larger classes. When working with students one-to-one, "You have to listen to everything they say and read between the lines, and that will suck the energy right out of you in a hurry" (Vanderbilt Center for Teaching Newsletter, Spring 2001). However, another professor at Vanderbilt, Catherine Fuchs, believes that students take less risks when in larger groups, caring in large part to what their peers are thinking of them.
Group and one-to-one teaching all of their own distinct advantages and disadvantages, and this can be seen through an analysis of customization of course and group dynamics. There is no right or wrong group to teach. However, when teaching english
, the language is always the same, regardless of the amount of people in the room. As long as teachers strive to do the best they can the students will be happy, no matter if it is 1 or 100.