Number one for English language teachers

One-to-one: Methodology

Type: Teaching notes

A set of tips on the methodology of one-to-one teaching by Nicola Meldrum, with ideas and activities by Lindsay Clandfield.

Why is one-to-one ‘special’?

Having talked to fellow teachers and done a workshop on this subject I realised how strongly teachers feel about aspects of this kind of teaching. 

The topic of one-to-one teaching provokes personal, sometimes passionate responses from many English language teachers. This is especially true when it comes to teacher-learner roles and the startling lack of published ELT material. One teacher neatly described the teacher role as being “blurred” between teacher, psychologist and friend. One minute learners complain the teacher is not pushing them to do enough homework and then the next they are talking about work problems or family life.

This seems to be a challenging situation for teachers to be in, and a situation which, unfortunately, is not covered much in ELT discussion. Apart from Peter Wilberg’s One-to-One: A Teacher’s Handbook (1987), on looking through published material on language teaching I failed to find any sections on teaching one-to-one, while there was lots advice on the classroom management of groups. It is somehow assumed that teaching English as a foreign language means organising huge groups of students, while the reality is that one to one is a normal and often significant part of our teaching lives. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages for teachers and learners of one-to-one teaching? We asked many teachers this question. These were the results:

One-to-one: Methodology resources

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