Published 17th May 2018

one-to-one EFL classes

When you think of being an English as a Foreign Language teacher, you probably imagine yourself standing in front of a class of thirty or so students. This is natural, as this is a common educational setting that many of us experienced ourselves. Truth be told, as an EFL teacher you could find yourself teaching anything from one-to-one EFL classes to classes with 100 students.

Many teachers are intimidated by the thought of teaching a one-to-one EFL class. Maybe this is because they have never done it. Maybe this is because they feel there would be more pressure to perform if there is only one student. Maybe this is because they have never considered planning lessons for one student. Whatever the reason, we’re here to tell you there’s nothing to fear about one-to-one EFL classes.

The advantages of teaching one-to-one EFL classes

  • There is only one student. This means you can tailor the class to your specific student’s needs. You can focus on particular errors this student makes. You can cover material as fast or as slow as your student can. Planning is much easier for just one student.
  • The student is more involved in the lesson. The student needs to be involved in the lessons for them to progress. There is no room for the student to fool around or get distracted because it would be immediately evident to the teacher.
  • The teacher doesn’t have to worry about the problems related to bigger classes. The teacher won’t have discipline issues, mixed level abilities or personality clashes.
  • The lessons are more flexible. With one student, it is easier to step away from the coursebook or veer away from the lesson plan. If you’d like to go on an excursion you only need to get one person’s permission.

The disadvantages of teaching one-to-one EFL classes

  • There is only one student. The teacher and the student will get to know each other very well in a one-to-one setting. However, we don’t always gel with our students and if this happens in a one-to-one class you need to make sure you act professional at all times, regardless of how you feel.
  • The teacher is more involved in the lesson. The teacher doesn’t have the luxury of time spent monitoring groupwork, because there isn’t any. Instead, the teacher needs to almost act as a student in the lesson in order to make activities work.
  • The teacher needs to plan well. Because there is only one student, activities won’t take as much time as with bigger classes. The teacher needs to have lots of ideas up their sleeve in case they have extra time in their lesson.

As with any EFL classroom situation, there are both advantages and disadvantages to teaching one-to-one classes. Some teachers love the freedom and the pressure of it, while others prefer dealing with more personalities and abilities. You’ll never know until you try!