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Teflnet : TEFL Book Reviews : Teaching : Teaching English One-to-One

Teaching English One-to-One

Components: Handbook for English language teachers Author: Priscilla Osborne Publisher: Keyways Publishing Ltd This book is aimed at English language teachers who want to get the best out of their one-to-one classes and is packed full of ideas and suggestions to make the one-to-one teaching experience enjoyable and productive. The first few chapters offer basic […]
Reviewed for Teflnet by Janis Crolla

Components: Handbook for English language teachers
Author:
Priscilla Osborne
Publisher:
Keyways Publishing Ltd

This book is aimed at English language teachers who want to get the best out of their one-to-one classes and is packed full of ideas and suggestions to make the one-to-one teaching experience enjoyable and productive. The first few chapters offer basic information about the fundamental differences between one to one and group classes and sound advice for getting started-. meeting your student and first impressions, needs analysis, and writing course programs. The book then focuses on teaching techniques covering all the skills: vocabulary, speaking, listening, reading and writing. There are also chapters devoted to giving feedback to your students, teaching Business English, teaching teenagers, homestay teaching, lesson planning, evaluating progress and troubleshooting. The author provides a short conclusion at the end of each chapter and there are a number of case studies, good lesson plans and useful templates.

One to one classes are often the preferred choice for students if they can afford them, but for teachers they present many challenges. The pedagogical and personal skills we continue to develop throughout our teaching careers are, in the main, related to teaching groups of students- the bread and butter of most language schools. This book has a large amount of very useful input for the one to one teacher, particularly with advice on how to design an effective course program (something which all too often is overlooked in one to one teaching in my opinion), how to evaluate progress, how to give appropriate feedback and the importance of student self-study. It also demonstrates how teachers can transfer group teaching techniques to the one to one setting, “…it is simply a question of tailoring these techniques to the student’s needs, interests and wants…using our students as a resource….” For those of you who teach teenagers, there is a lot of excellent advice- for example, how important it is to listen carefully for what motivates them, teenagers being full of surprises!. The chapter on homestay teaching was interesting for me as it is something I have thought about occasionally, but never actually been involved in. The pros and cons are discussed in detail and I particularly liked the author’s concluding paragraph, “Homestay teaching flies in the face of the adage ´Don’t mix business with pleasure´-only do it if you love it!”

As the author states in the introduction, the book mainly uses “tried and tested suggestions” for managing both students and teaching time, so there will be no real surprises for the experienced teacher. I did come across some new ideas for lesson plans, but thought that there could have been a little more content related to more modern techniques, such as utilizing multimedia in order to bring a third person into the classroom and effective utilization of technology such as mp3s, laptops and Skype. This would be particularly for teenage or younger adult students. However, there are some good suggestions and ideas for project work (usually viewed as a successful teaching technique for groups rather than individuals) and planning external visits. There is also a comprehensive list of website resources, some of which will be familiar to most teachers, but others that are not so familiar and I found worth checking out.

In conclusion, it is fair to say that even experienced teachers sometimes get stuck in a one to one rut, with classes becoming boring and conversation running dry. This book can help put the enthusiasm, pace and focus back into one to one teaching, making it a rewarding experience for both teacher and student.

Reviewed by Janis Crolla for Teflnet February 2009

One Comment

  • Beth says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful review of this book. It is great that someone has dedicated a book to those of us who focus on the one-to-one method of teaching English. I would love to integrate some suggestions into my own homestay teaching through homestayinsanfrancisco.com

    Personally, I never find that the classes become boring (at least for me), because I usually integrate social and cultural outings into my teaching based on the students interests. I highly recommend homestay teaching for any teacher who enjoys customizing their teaching and for those who can comfortably accommodate a homestay student into his/her life. I often become very good friends with the student.

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Teflnet : TEFL Book Reviews : Teaching : Teaching English One-to-One