It is of paramount importance to make a good first and lasting impression through your physical presentation and behavior. After that the one-to-one methodology will largely depend on the student’s requirements following initial contact.
Explain the differences between one-to-one teaching and group lessons and especially how adopting this format will enhance communicative ability and boost self-confidence. The relationship will involve two-way interaction only; the trainer may have to provide stimulus if the student ideas are lacking, but she/he must be made aware and appreciate that there should be no risk of embarrassment and this facilitates the golden opportunity to speak openly.
How To Proceed
The First Lesson And Future Planning
You should first determine whether your student wants to improve her/his general command of English, or if she/he has specific Business English course objectives. In this case suitable texts should be utilized.
I recommend the completion of a ‘needs analysis’/diagnostic testing prior to the first lesson, but if this is impractical I suggest the initial ‘get to know you stage’ to break the ice, also incorporates some questions about specific needs.
I am outlining a few examples, but this should be an in-depth planning exercise:
- How long have you been learning English and why do you want to learn it?
- What does your job involve?
- Do you use English in your workplace e.g. memos, email, telephone calls, meeting or dealing with native speakers?
- Do you need to study for any English exams e.g. IELTS or TOEIC?
- Do you wish to improve your English skills for traveling abroad or communication with people from other countries?
- What do you find interesting about Business?
- What other topics do you find interesting or enjoyable e.g. sport, news, fashion, entertainment?
- What do you want to focus on in our lessons?
- Do you want to study grammar in class or concentrate on communication skills?
- Do you want to listen to tape recordings or CDs in our lessons?
- Do you have any particular textbooks or materials you want to study?
- Do you have a preferred learning style? For example do you process information more easily through seeing or hearing or through physical / emotional feelings?
- Do you want to be given homework?
- How much time can you spend on learning English?
- What do you expect to achieve from this course?
The next step is to match teaching to the student’s preferred learning style. Then describe the teaching methods that will be used and provide a rationale for the student, so that nothing is misunderstood.
Lesson plans should show awareness and sensitivity to the characteristics, expectations and motivation of the learner and consider all of the following:
- Following the diagnostic testing, teaching consultation should engage forethought and planning. Think about the one-to-one attachment, and continually gauge the effectiveness of meeting needs.
- Create a trusting relationship so that you can discuss her/his personal and professional attitudes and values. One-to-one teaching has unlimited potential and facilitates opportunistic teaching. We must tackle current, changing and future student requirements, by linking prior knowledge with new challenging experiences, whilst promoting self-autonomy and self directed learning.
- Customize the programme to match the learning experience to her/him.
- Influence the student by creating opportunities in authentic settings whilst modeling desirable attributes.
- Ensure that the initially agreed ground rules are maintained so there is no confusion as to the amount of time spent in teaching, observing, giving sensitive and private feedback and what is expected in return.
- Encourage reflective study and identify deficiencies early.
- Acknowledge fundamental differences and optimize transferable and modify less importable techniques from group teaching.
- Switch thinking from language teacher to language coach and acquire the key skills of coaching: rapport, deep listening, intuition, questioning and feedback.
- Maximize the unique existing opportunities, whilst changing the pace and style of your teaching to work on the difficulties of the individual. Deal with persistent grammar problems in a remedial way whether focusing on ‘accuracy’ or ‘fluency.’ Fill in the gaps in the student’s knowledge of grammar, focus on pronunciation problems and give intensive practice in apparent areas of weakness such as listening.
As one-to-one lessons may be very intense for the student and trainer alike activities should be carefully planned and breaks timed appropriately. Seating arrangements/venue should also be varied.
Always have extra backup material ready at all times, in case the lesson proceeds faster than anticipated, or the chosen tasks are unsuitable. Encourage and praise the student, as they do not have another person to compare their progress with. Don’t be afraid of silence, as it can be productive. Allow psychological space to think/reflect etc. Focus on real-life communication, but don’t forget the lexis, grammar work. Don’t let your student practice listening/reading your next lesson before class, as this will negate guessing from context, answering prediction questions. Show you are interested in the topic and the student – minimal eye contact, body language etc. Slavish adherence to a method (such as PPP, TPR, task-based learning) is unacceptable and mutually unrewarding.
The Class Environment
- language competence is the starting point.
- employ a holistic approach.
- make the learning process easier and more enjoyable.
- create grammatical awareness/Task Based Learning etc.
- produce/extend the language.
- use prompts, gestures etc to elicit vocabulary.
- recycle grammar/ encourage students to ‘notice’ language.
- bring personality/background into the class.
- content and language integrated learning (CLIL).
- feel more confident without the pressure of accuracy.
- skill based lessons/ instill a ‘can do ‘ attitude.
- use lessons and time to the best extent.
- organize learning aids – vocabulary notebook/time-lines for verb tenses.
- learning styles – visual, auditory, kinaesthetic or tactile.
- work together in a collaborative style.
- provide realistic (authentic) examples of language.
- role plays/info-gap exercises/skits. Be prepared to take on different roles as a teacher and for pair work with the student.
- productive skills – writing/speaking.
- receptive skills – reading/listening.
- take notes as the student is monologuing, but pre-explain why you are doing it.
- tape activities/play back conversations. Student corrects mistakes or reformulates difficult items.
- send e-mails for homework.
- recommend English practice websites.
- telephone and speak to each other for a few minutes – variety of scenarios
- follow the news and get her/him to give news bulletins at the beginning of class.
- 2 minutes presentations of autobiographical topics – useful link with IELTS.
- newspaper headlines – students tell you what they know about these stories.
- learner autonomy – becoming less dependent on the teacher and being able to access many learning opportunities.
- communicate not just in the classroom environment.
- do drills, games etc just as you would in a group lesson.
- motivation/commitment/ take learning seriously outside the classroom.
- push the student, to compensate for the lack of group dynamics.
- maximize the type of input to benefit the student.
Following this and every lesson you should undertake an honest self-appraisal to consider whether you have succeeded in creating a rich learning environment for your student. Did you endeavor to guide, support, suggest, expand, extend and recycle various language elements in the class? Are you able to create a focused, systematic skill-developing syllabus and adhere to it?