For over 25 years I’ve been mostly teaching English or Spanish on an individual basis. Excluding my volunteer work on Saturdays when I teach English and the Bible to a group of around 80 people. Hmmm… imagine if I charged a little from each of those 80 people… stop it, Mo! Volunteer work is not paid by definition. Don’t be greedy.
So… going back to 1-2-1 teaching … what are the advantages and disadvantages for students and teacher?
Lessons focused on the student’s needs: customization
immediate attention to weak points and questions student may have
choice of time and location for the classes whether online or onsite.
Lack of shyness or embarrassment
greater levels of production and (hopefully) rapid progress
1. Keep the student motivated;
2. Deal with class cancellations;
3. The lessons can be quite intense and tiring. How to maintain the energy?
4. High expectations need to be managed
5. Pricing and travel time must be factored in
6. As in any sort of business negotiation, teacher and student must develop rapport and feel they’re getting value for money.
The dynamics between an individual lesson and a group are quite different but can be extremely rewarding, both depending on the teacher’s full preparation.
Useful link: ELT Training: one to one teaching video https://youtu.be/FwGdvwmMS8w
But the problem with making resolutions is that they don’t tend to stick. They slip away and melt as if under the tropical sun.
But if you follow these steps (not in any necessary order and at least some of them) you will make progress and then you will feel you can continue to learn English (or any other language for that matter)
Watch movies and TV in your target language (the internet makes it accessible) – even if you don’t understand what’s going on you’ll get familiar to the sounds of that language. (I particularly love commercials)
Read a book you know well. Preferably a book you liked reading in your mother tongue. When my wife was learning French she bought a copy of the Little Prince (Le Petit Prince) so she could enjoy the book and learn in her new language.
Keep a notebook – scribble down new words you learn – especially creating word collocation and usage sections. Revisit the notebook once a week.
Use mnemonic devices. It won’t work for everyone but it does work. When learning about the coordinating conjunctions, for instance, you can use the word FANBOYS to help remember the list. Can you name them? I’m pretty sure you can, because of FANBOYS (For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So). That is a mnemonic device. Creating a funny mental picture that you’ll remember is another way to use a mnemonic device. The sillier the picture is, the better it will stick in your head.
Listen to podcasts – not only about English learning – but podcasts of other subjects of your interest produced in English or target language.
Get a grammar book and do the exercises. Need I say more?
Be mindful. Notice language. How it’s used. How it sounds.Create a routine, Stick to it.
Read aloud – small texts and paragraphs but that will improve your pronunciation, intonation and fluency.
Test yourself – after a month – review the points you’ve learned and test your progress.
We were in class last week and my student, Rodrigo, a very keen elementary level student started yawning. Aware that his action could be misinterpreted by his teacher – ME – he quickly interjected – “sorry teacher, I’m yawning not because the class is boring. Just because I’m relaxed. In the beginning of the curse (COURSE – I corrected his pronunciation, chuckles) I was very anxious every time I came to class”.
So after a few months, we had turned a corner in our relationship. I was no longer the big, bad teacher ready to correct his every mistake and to taunt him if he made repetitive mistakes. He realized I was there to help him. To facilitate his connection with the language.
How to connect with your students:
1. Acknowledge them
2. Establish boundaries
3. Develop a healthy but professional relationship with them
Nowadays when we think of connections we always think of going online, which is good in its proper time and place. But teachers must be willing to connect with their students on a more personal level. I’m not saying that you must be best friends with all your students or any of them for that matter. But you must be willing to lend an ear and be sensitive to their difficulties when learning a foreign language.
The challenge is to walk that fine line between being empathetic or apathetic and “going the whole 10 yards” – I’m saying 10 yards because I can’t emphasize enough how wrong it is to hear that a teacher has been making out with a student – (regardless of their age or gender). The same can happen with one’s doctor or therapist. Or with the supermarket checkout clerk, but does it make it right and professional?
I know some cases of teachers who have even married their former students (one at a time, mind you; wink, wink) but they developed their relationship (to the best of my knowledge) after they had terminated their teacher-student relationship. And that still is a grey area.
So by all my means, do connect with your students but always remember where you’re coming from and where you’re going. And never think you’re above all that and it would never happen to you. Keep yourself accountable and grow.
Last week, Juliana got in touch with me via Facebook Messenger with the following request:
“Good evening, teacher Moacir, how’s it goin’? I attended your English Sabbath School Class a few years ago and I have become a teacher at IASP ( a school in the interior of São Paulo state). Someone has asked me about online private classes and since I know you teach classes in this manner, I would like to have some tips from you.
I love English, it’s been my passion since I was a little child and now I would like to work with private classes because I feel like I’m cast in plaster with the teaching methods at schools.
If you could help me I would be immensely thankful!”
Well, how could I say “NO” to someone who is passionate about the language and also willing to teach?
My reply was:
Hello Juliana, I’m really glad you’re interested in teaching online.
1. The first thing you must do is evaluate the student’s level and encourage constancy and define the platform – Skype / FaceTime? How often will they be having classes? once a week? twice? more? From my experience FaceTime has better voice/ image quality than Skype. The limitation is that both parties must be using Apple products.
2. Class time: 50 – 60 minutes (classes with more than an hour online can become too exhausting and student – and teacher – may lose focus).
3. Price: it will vary depending on your public – usually I charge 10-20% less than my “in-person classes” – since I save on transportation and commute time. How much to charge? It will depend on your market – in Brazil it can vary from R$ 35 to R$ 175 per hour. It would be a good idea to negotiate a fixed monthly package.
4. Develop a curriculum – how long will the classes take for the student to change to a higher level? six months? one year? what materials will be used?
5. Homework – I’ve learned that the best approach regarding homework (especially with “false” beginners and higher levels) is the flipped classstyle – the student will do the homework before the online class and then the teacher will correct and make the student practice points still not consolidated. Students from Elementary levels on to Advanced should be encouraged to read articles from magazines and newspapers to develop vocabulary and comprehension. They could be asked to read a news story, for instance, and then present a summary during the online session. Translation from L1 to L2 is always a good practice that students should attempt before their class.
Whew… I hope this will give you some ideas. Any questions, just let me know. May God bless you on this new adventure.
Oh, before I forget, it’s super important to have a reasonable internet connection and sound quality.