Should I Teach Group Classes or One-on-One Students?
In the world of teaching abroad, some people prefer teaching groups while others enjoy tutoring one student at a time. Both of the classroom setups have positive and negative aspects that any TEFL teacher might consider before selecting a position. After doing both, I discovered that I preferred the private tutoring with one student, but enjoyed many things about group classes as well.
Teaching groups of three or more students at a time can often fill a teacher with either dread or excitement. Having a variety of personalities, education levels, and energy in one group can always make for an interesting session.
- Groups can play more complex games.
- Groups can act out scenarios together.
- Groups can practice with each other.
- Groups can be more fun for the students.
- Groups can have great conversations.
- Groups can be hard to motivate and focus.
- Groups can be hard to please with a variety of needs.
- Groups can hide students that need more help.
- Groups can band together and begin a mutiny.
Some teachers might find private tutoring to be a bit boring in comparison to groups, while others love the calmness and ability to focus.
- One student can be easier to keep focused.
- One student can have customized classes to fit their needs.
- One student is easier to control. Usually.
- One student makes it hard to play most games.
- One student would only have the teacher to act out any scenarios.
- One student can feel bored without other students present.
- One student can be quiet and it can be hard to keep conversations going.
I have been lucky enough to teach many different configurations of class types and have had a variety of experiences and levels of success.
My first TEFL experience was teaching 5-6 classes a day of about 20-30 students each, preschool through 3rd grade. I had no assistants in my classes or any curriculum so keeping the kids in their seats and learning was all up to me. Unfortunately, my first few months included chaotic, unorganized classes with few children paying attention or participating.
As I became more experienced, I was creating engaging classes and began having a lot more fun.
I also taught at a language center, mostly tutoring single students. I was able to build a bond and prepare a perfect learning plan for each student. Many kids weren’t thrilled to be sent to tutoring after school so it required lots of motivation for some to participate. It was a bit difficult to play games or do role playing with just the two of us but I found many creative alternatives.
So, Which do You Choose?
Frequently, each school or learning center can have a bit of both. Many schools have the classroom-only style of teaching with the possibility to tutor students privately after hours. Most language centers have the private tutoring setup but can also have group classes as well. Selecting a school and teaching position based on your preferences will help ensure a much happier situation for you and your students.
I found both approaches to be satisfying in their own way and learned a lot doing both. Finding a teaching mentor to help, especially your first time, can be a wonderful way to avoid some of the pitfalls.
Whichever you choose, enjoy the teaching and all of the learning YOU will be doing along the way! Your students may teach you as much as you teach them.
To all of my TEFL teachers, which teaching setup do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below!
P.S. Considering whether or not to teach abroad? Here are 8 Reasons to Teach English as a Foreign Language.
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