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ESL forum > Techniques and methods in Language Teaching > STUNDENTS: SHOULD THEY TAKE INDIVIDUAL OR GROUPAL LESSONS?     



Hello everybody!
I īve been thinking about  what it is really worthy for Ss in terms of learning process. I find it difficult for people, especially TRUE beginners, to learn in enviroments where they are only with a private teacher and no classmates they can share ideas with. I believe that what they really need is to communicate effectively within a group and they may not achieve that with just them and a teacher explaining. I need to know what you think about this. 

17 Apr 2017      


I tend to agree with you. 1-1 with a true beginning can be disheartening for the student and excruciating for the teacher. When there īs at least one other person, they have the partnership of shared discomfort. A bonding, of sorts. They can share successes and failures, and encourage each other.  

17 Apr 2017     

United Kingdom

I agree with you completely. What early stage learners need is repetition, reinforcement, application, practice! In groups, you can accomplish this by role-play and all sorts of language games. 1-1, as Dee says, can be excruciating! Conversely, 1-1 with an advanced learner can be very productive. 

18 Apr 2017     


I think it depends on the students. Many are shy and don īt speak when there are others because they may think that they are not good enough. Or some are learning much quicker than others and get bored. There is a reason why people look for private classes. 

18 Apr 2017     


Short anwser: I think both individual and group lessons are good and needed. Not one vs the other ...but one complementing the other.
Long anwser: 7 months ago I had this epiphany and enrolled in a gym class. 4 times per week. 2 times 1-1 with a personal trainer and 2 times in a mixed group. So from this personal experience I can say ... when 1-1 with the big brother watching I am focused, I do not cheat and I do everything to the point. I always try to best myself. But when in a mixed group the situation is different. We play our role, my focus is all over the place, all is more relaxed (or tense if your more on the competitive side), we joke and have fun. My ABC īs ain īt what they should be. I get the job done, but I īm slacking or rushing (depending on the excercise). It is not just me anymore. It is me adapting to be a part of the team. I īm still learning though ... From my 1-1 I learn the technique, from my mixed group I get social interaction skills, team working and so on.
At my work I try implementing both. If I want to teach them their ABC īs I take away the "sensory noise and jumble" and give em 1-1 focus. Group work is great when trying to teach them social behaviour and so on. Besides I teach very age and ability mixed groups and what often happens is that one child takes over while the rest fade to silence. There is no idea bouncing, so I might not be the best person to voice my opinion on this subject anyway. 

18 Apr 2017     


In many aspects, all of you are right. Let me only add that there are students with special educational needs who will not thrive in a regular classroom environment. We (private language school) used to provide classes for a Down syndrome girl (much slower to absorb knowledge than the rest so she couldn īt follow the group regimen), serious ADHD boy (very disruptive to teach in a group, it was easier to accomodate only his especially when he could move around during class), some autistic students. Not everybody can be accomodated to a group because of his/her idiosycrasies, sometimes also groups are not too accepting of some really bizzare behavours (and they are the ones who pay). Last but not least even at beginners levels there are those who want to master English at much quicker pace than you normally provide (and hopefully they ARE prepared to work) or along with that need some very specific vocab (eg. got a job as hotel reception staff, airport etc). Then there is some sense in one 2 one classes  

18 Apr 2017     

United Kingdom

Dear AndrewOnl,

In answer to your question, I enjoy working with all numbers of Students … a small group, a whole class, a theatre full of students, an outdoor event … AND particularly one-to-one lessons.

These, I find, are the most rewarding, for the Student … but especially for me!

Students need to be taught, and encouraged, and motivated … yes!

But the Teacher, also, needs to feel that teaching is fulfilling and refreshing and reinvigorating his life, her life!

Teachers need to LOVE their job and to see that they can make a difference to the lives of individual Students. For, without the uplifting influence of a good Teacher, many Students will sink to enduring a drab, pointless, unhappy life. Some … even worse!

Try to carry this thought with you into the classroom. I have often been astonished when young people met me in later years and said: “I always remember when …. …. and that WAS WHEN I DECIDED TO ….”.

Andrew, you CAN make a difference! You ARE making a difference!

The answers that you have received from your colleagues indicate the diversity of their experiences, and the many, many talents that they possess, and which they demonstrate in the classroom, on a daily basis.

I hope that you are able to benefit from their answers, and to go on to greater things.

We are all in this Big Plan together! You, in your small corner, and I in mine.

Les Douglas

18 Apr 2017     

United Kingdom

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18 Apr 2017     

Russian Federation

I disagree with the idea that everyone should go along the same road. There īs a number of people who detest groups. I have to say I īm one of them. Some people are introvertive and working in a group makes them exhausted in 40-45 minutes. This is why they opt for one-to-one teaching. Of course, there will always be a large number of Ss who prefer groups, but there will be the minority as well. I can say it īs much easier for me to have six 90 min classes in one-to-one mode per day than two 90 min classes with a mini group of 2-3 people. As for learning a language, I would rather pay more for individual classes than waste my time and earn headache  in a group, because I will learn nothing and I īm well aware of that. 

20 Apr 2017     

United Kingdom

I was talking about school age kids and I firmly believe language games are the way to go. Teaching input, then consolidation, practice, repetition ... On a 1:1 basis, quite exhausting for the teacher and possibly intimidating for the child. 
I īm not sure about 1:1 for adults at an early level, either. When I learn a language, I like nothing better than a īTeach Yourself ī book, a few tapes and now we have the wonderful youtube, then you can just get on with it. As an adult, I wouldn īt be seeking lessons until I had enough conversation to make it worthwhile.
Then again, I agree, not all people want the same. Comments on this type of issue should always be qualified with īIn general... ī īMost people... ī īNot all... ī etc. 
Interesting question. 

20 Apr 2017     

United States

I can īt say much about teaching adults, as I īm specialized in teaching children. But when it comes to very small children, there is nothing better than small groups in my experience. You can play plenty of games through which they learn the best way. In my experience, they learned a lot more (and enjoyed the lessons a lot more, hence were more motivated and always happy to come to the lessons) when they were not alone.

That being said, I absolutely believe that there is no "one size fits all". I had children that asked me to do one on one because they feel better this way. May it be, because they are shy (rarely the case though), or because they are more "serious workers" and don īt feel like playing and actually behave like little adults (yes, that exists ;) ). So in that case I take them on 1 on 1.

In my view, it īs very important to look at the needs of each learner (and maybe also the motivation behind the learning - probably more when it comes to adults), plus their personality in order to be able to say which approach fits best for them.

20 Apr 2017     

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