By Yolande Deane
DELTA qualified EFL teacher with 5 years’ teaching experience
Do they always know what they want?
Students choose to study with a private teacher for a variety of reasons; they want to focus on their specific language problems, they do not have time to attend lessons, they are studying for a language exam, and as with a group, their needs vary. I have had students who are happy to let me lead each session, these types of students often go along with anything I suggest, and may not express any dissatisfaction, or they just assume I am right because I am the teacher. That is why I always make an effort to check at the end of the session what they enjoyed or did not enjoy. Some students may come from cultures where they are not used having a great input in their learning and will not be willing to make a suggestion, so I gently encourage it.
Is what they want always what they need?
In contrast, there are students who are very clear about what they want and I am happy to go along with them. However, there are also those who are clear about what they want to improve, but after ten to fifteen minutes I realise that it is not their use of the present perfect that is the problem, which they have insisted is terrible, it is a problem with listening that needs addressing . This is where I believe my role of a private teacher is beneficial, as you can guide them to focus on what would be useful for them during the lesson, and a simple needs analysis form is one way to help you be more specific about their needs. It also makes them feel you are actually taking on board what they are saying, it also reminds you if are on track with your teaching and meeting their needs.
Download a basic needs analysis form for your one to one students (PDF): Basic Needs Analysis
Check in with the student
In every case there needs to be a discussion between you and the student about each lesson, even if the lesson has gone well still check in with the student. Always keep a record of what you have done, I always find that keeping a feedback sheet to write notes on and give them at the end of the lesson is quite helpful, you can also use it as a revision tool in the next lesson. One to one lessons are also an ideal opportunity to “promote” autonomous learning. One to one learning is a space where the student learns mainly from the teacher, so it is important to give them tools to study more effectively on their own.
Download a lesson feedback form for your one to one students (PDF): Lesson Feedback Form
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