Which is better for learning English: group classes or one-to-one lessons?

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Which is better for learning English: group classes or one-to-one lessons?

Classes or One-to-One Lessons

The answer depends on what you want to learn and what motivates you.

Ask yourself these two questions:

1. What do you want to learn?

If you want to learn how to speak up in meetings, get comfortable with small talk, improve listening, practice negotiating, learn to debate, or gain confidence in public speaking, consider a group class.

If you want to focus on your individual pronunciation problems, learn how to speak in 1-to-1 settings, improve writing, learn industry-related vocabulary, practice interviewing, or have all of your errors analyzed and corrected, consider a private, 1-to-1 lesson.

2. What motivates you?

If you are a social person and enjoy talking with others, then a class might motivate you more. On the days when you are tired and don't want to go to class, knowing that there are other people who will be there without you could be just enough motivation to get you to class. If you like to work with a team, and you are inspired by other people, a class will be more motivating than a one-to-one lesson.

If you don't like to work in groups and want the full attention of the instructor, then a one-to-one class might be better for you. If you are easily distracted, a personal instructor who will keep you on task will be beneficial.

Bottom Line: In order to improve, you need to believe that the environment is right for you.

Other Factors

Of course, cost and time will also influence which option you choose. Classes are usually much less expensive than 1-to-1 for obvious reasons, but if you want to have a flexible lesson schedule, then 1-to-1 would be better. As you can see, the answer is not simple!

Don't forget to ask your instructor what he/she prefers. Instructors have different opinions based on their personal strengths and experience. Don't insist on taking a one-to-one lesson from someone who is a stronger group instructor.

Here are some additional points to consider when thinking about taking a class or private lesson:

Benefits of Classes (or Small Groups)

  • Interacting with your classmates is highly effective for your language development.

  • Mixed-level classes can help everyone learn more. The lower-level learners will be pushed more than if they were alone, and the higher-level learners can solidify their knowledge by helping others.

  • The questions and additional information from the other learners in class can add extra information that the instructor didn't plan on teaching.

  • Learning in a group can take the pressure off of you.

  • You can make friends and business connections.

Benefits of Private Lessons (1-to-1)

  • The lessons can be personalized and reflect exactly what you want or need.

  • Instructors can give you individualized attention and feedback.

  • Your lesson time and location can be scheduled around your life and work.

  • You can work on sensitive work-related material that you don’t want to share with a class.

In summary, you need to consider your needs, learning-style, and motivation. You also need to consider your instructor’s needs, teaching-style, and strengths. There is not a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but there is likely a perfect fit for your situation.

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