Tips for one-to-one English language lessons and courses

Are you thinking about taking a one-to-one English language course? Or wondering how to choose a suitable teacher for your one-to-one lessons?

One-to-one English language lessons and courses are a very popular way of learning for many students. Here are some tips for deciding if one-to-one is the best option for you, plus some useful advice on choosing a teacher.

Who are one-to-one English lessons and courses good for?

♦ For total beginners: for example when a student’s English is not yet good enough for them to join a class.

♦ For students needing intensive revision practice before exams.

♦ For students who want to learn English as quickly as possible. This might be for work, or as preparation for an application for a job, for application to a university; or simply because they want to learn quickly.

♦ For students whose personal preference is to learn one-to-one rather than as part of a class.

Where can I have one-to-one English language lessons?

♦ At a language school during normal working hours.

♦ At a language teacher’s home. Times will depend on individual teachers, but could include evenings and weekends.

♦ Homestay courses in a teacher’s home. These courses are usually for students who are in an English speaking country for a few weeks. The teacher might also arrange trips out and will most likely provide meals.

♦ In your own home. Your language teacher will charge extra for travelling expenses, and probably for the extra time taken to travel to your home.

♦ Online – at work or at home, or wherever is most convenient for you, and where you have reliable access to the internet. One-to-one online courses are often via Skype. Online English lessons are a financially economical and time saving way to learn because there is no travelling involved, and no travelling expenses.

The advantages of one-to-one English language lessons and courses

♦ Intensive learning: enabling you to learn quickly and effectively, and reach your goals quicker.

♦ Personalized learning: you will have lessons at your level and pace; with content and materials prepared for your learning needs and learning style.

The disadvantages of one-to-one English language lessons and courses

♦ No opportunities for group discussions or pair work: you will only have your teacher to talk to.

♦ One-to-one lessons are very intense, and can be very hard work (for both student and teacher). They require lot of concentration.

General Advice

♦ Expect to pay more per hour for one-to-one lessons than a class – your teacher has to prepare a lot of lesson material for you because the material is covered so much quicker than in a group lesson.

♦ Choose a teacher who will assess your current level of English, and ask about your previous language learning and your goals.  Discuss and agree a learning plan with your teacher.

♦ Make sure your teacher can provide the lessons you require – e.g. if you need intense revision practice for an exam date make sure they will be able to fit in all the lessons you need.

♦ Make sure your teacher has access to the curriculum materials you need, or prefer.

♦ Make sure you agree on a price for your lessons, and how you are going to pay. Your teacher might offer a discount if you pay for a course of lessons in one go. If your teacher has to travel to your work or home for your lesson they will include their travel costs in the cost of the lesson – make sure you know how much this will be.

♦ If you want to learn English quickly it’s tempting to book long lessons – two or three hours – but these are very hard work and one hour is usually enough for both teacher and student. It’s much better to book two or three separate hour-long lessons over the course of a week.

♦ Because of the intensive work involved, one-to-one lessons will be more expensive than group classes so make sure you are getting what you pay for. Your teacher should plan each lesson thoroughly, the lessons should start and end on time, and if you are working in their home your teacher should not use your lesson time to answer the telephone etc.

♦ And last, but not least, because one-to-one work is very intense, working with a teacher who you get on with is extremely important. Have an informal chat with your potential teacher before you book any lessons and this will help you decide if you are going to get on well.

Image by Mrs Logic