A Myopic Mode of Teaching

December 2013

Here’s a post I recently put on WeChat (a sort of Chinese Facebook) bemoaning this common preference.

“I frequently meet people who say they want 1-to-1 English classes for their child, or for themselves. But why?? One-on-one classes are NOT the best way to learn.

1. They can be boring for the learner

2. They can be difficult for the teacher

3. And costly for the parent

The best number in an ESL class is 4-10: that way you can do group activities, games, and get lots of speaking opportunities. It’s just better value all round.”

Although most people agreed that this format is flawed and basically inefficient, some also offered explanations along the lines of parents wanting the best for their child; ergo maximum attention from the teacher — the implication being that more students means it’s harder for the teacher to control the class.

I feel this reaction is extreme though and certainly exacerbated by the one-child policy. The simple truth is that: two heads are better than one. I’m not suggesting packing people in la state education. I just believe in having more than one solitary soul being taught in a hermetically sealed bubble with ultimately limited scope and variety.