Learning foreign languages is extremely important nowadays, especially when you want to get a better job or travel abroad. English and German are undoubtedly the most frequently chosen languages. In today’s professional world knowledge of foreign languages is an indispensable skill.
Language schools offer group courses, which are very popular. The question is: are they really effective? You can also choose one-to-one classes. Let’s see what the pros and cons of both options are. It will be really helpful for those who still haven’t started learning.
One-to-one lessons are more expensive than group courses. However, this is a great option for someone who is shy. It also gives you an opportunity to discuss with your teacher all the issues of learning and to concentrate on skills that need to be improved. Moreover, you can decide if you want to have lessons once or twice a week, or even every day.
One-to-one lessons give the teacher the opportunity to get to know the student and create lessons which are suited to his/her needs or preferences. You can even practise vocabulary related to your occupation/profession.
During one-to-one lessons you can do more exercises than during group lessons. When conducting group classes a teacher must focus on all participants and work with each of them. In contrast, during one-to-one lesson a teacher gives a student individual attention.
Althoug there are many benefits of one-to-one lessons some people prefer to learn in a group. During group classes students can share their ideas and learning experiences. They can meet people, be part of a team or even make new friends. These types of activities are perfect for those who feel comfortable when they speak in front of a group, very often people who are complete strangers, and for those who have teamwork skills. One of the most important elements of group activities are discussions and various types of exercises in pairs. Group courses are sometimes conducted by native speakers who do not speak your native language. This is a difficulty – understanding what the teacher says – but also an advantage – it motivates students to learn the foreign language.
Many language schools offer classes for groups of 15 or even 20 people. But it is all about the finances not the quality of teaching. This kind of course is less effective. The teacher is not able to work with each student individually in a large group. There should not be more than 10 people in a group.
Advantages of One-to-one Lessons
There are many advantages of one-to-one lessons. First of all, the teacher’s attention is fully focused on one student. As a result, the student listens more carefully and is forced to speak more often. Moreover, after completing the task the student does not need to wait for other participants to complete the task. It is easier to set and achieve personal goals during one-to-one lessons.
One-to-one lesson is a great solution for a person who feels embarassed and who has problems with concentrating in a group. And the competition can be demotivating. One-to-one lessons also have other advantages. During one-to-one lessons the teacher is able to monitor the progress more effectively and to select the materials according to the student’s needs, interestes and expectations.
Disadvantages of One-to-one Lessons
Although there are many advantages of one-to-one lessons we still can find some disadvantages. Firstly, it can be tiring for some students and they can feel pressure because the teacher expects one person to be active throughtout the lesson.
Secondly, some of the learning techniques might not be effective. For example, working in pairs or groups, discussions and other interactive tasks. This is the reason why the classes may seem less varied or interesting for the student. However, the biggest disadvantage is the price. The costs of individual courses significantly exceed the prices of group courses.
Advantages of Group Classes
It is a model to which we have got used – from an early age in kindergarten and school. The main advantage of learning a foreign language in a group is the ability to have rich conversations. A large number of participants taking part in discussions is a factor which influences effective learning. The conversation is more natural and fluent when the students talks to students, not when they talk to the teacher only. Sometimes the group talks are so emotional that there is no need to ask additional questions – the teacher just watches how the students learn from each other.
Disadvantages of Group Classes
Sometimes people with different personalities end up in one group. While one participant takes the group’s attention, the other avoids interactions and does not want to speak in a foreign language. As a result, the language barrier arises and the student does not fully benefit from the classes. The good teacher is able to notice these symptoms quickly and to react in a proper way – trying to reduce the participation of more active students and encouraging those who need a bit of support to benefit from learning in a group.