I’ve been a classroom teacher and I am guilty of neglecting most of my students’ needs. The time I spent in the classroom was by and large a waste for my students. Each class that I taught would have very little relevance for the bottom third, very little relevance for the top third, and only be generally of interest to the middle third. I had to aim for the middle so as to not completely bore everybody.

I’m not a bad teacher. Quite the contrary, I loved my classroom teaching days and I tried my very best. But no matter how good my preparation and delivery was, it was never relevant for all.

Scientists have long known that no two learners are the same because no two brains absorb information the same way, at the same time. Perception and things like what you ate for breakfast determine what you cognize. Language learning exemplifies this rule.

If you gave a class of “intermediate” language learners an identical IELTS, PTE, TOEFL or OET test, the questions they would get right and wrong would be almost completely random. The average level would be the same, but the specific errors would be individual. What one person understands, another doesn’t. What one person says, another can’t.

The only influence that may mitigate the randomness of the errors would be the first language background of our imagined class. Indonesian speakers would generally struggle using gender pronouns, Korean speakers would generally struggle to use articles, Telegu speakers would generally struggle distinguishing “v” and “w”.

In most language classrooms the language backgrounds are mixed. And even if they were the same, most teachers would not know how to direct lessons to improve “general” influences of first language.

If I were to take a language test like the IELTS, TOEFL, PTE or OET, there’s no way I would prepare in a busy classroom. My second language is individualised. It’s mine. I know a certain amount of vocabulary. I have a certain grasp of the grammar. I can only write so well, in a particular way. I would need one-on-one tutorials rather than a generalised, broadcast lecture.

One-on-one time with a teacher is undoubtedly the fastest way to improve your second language because the teacher can focus in on your errors. Your writing is visual evidence of your grammar and vocabulary skills. Your speaking is audible evidence of your speaking skills.

Let’s do some maths to make the comparison of classroom-based learning and one-on-one tuition more evident.

Let’s imagine 15 students in a language classroom. They are 15 students vying for the teacher’s attention. So, we have to divide the amount of time of a class by the number of students in that class. Let’s say the class is one hour long.

60 minutes / 15 students = 4 minutes each. So, for every one hour spent in a classroom you will receive just 4 minutes of one-to-one attention from the teacher – barely enough to correct a few sentences.

Put simply, what you can get in 40 minutes in a one-on-one tutorial would take you 10 hours in a classroom. Put another way, one-on-one tutoring is 15 times more efficient than classroom learning.

If you want to prepare efficiently, avoid busy classrooms and get focused, personalised attention from an expert.

http://www.e2language.com  offers live, private tutorials with a language expert to help you build the skills you’ll need to succeed on the IELTS, PTE, TOEFL or OET.  Sign up for free today and book an online consultation with one of our experts!


Written by Jay Merlo.


2 thoughts on “One-on-One Teaching Trumps Classroom Learning Every Time

    1. Hi there! Because we are an English proficiency test preparation blog, we provide all content in English to help our visitors read at about the same level you will find on the PTE, IELTS, TOEFL or OET. 🙂

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