Does using “one-to-one-in-a-group” help overcome embarrassment at performing in a group?

Does using one-to-one-in-a-group help overcome embarrassment at performing in a group?

This is a short piece, continuing the topic of “one-to-one-in-a-group” addressed in Jim’s long piece yesterday and Adrian’s own earlier article.

In a recent conversation between Adrian Underhill and teacher Louise Guvett, she said:


I find that some learners get really embarrassed when I try to help them with pronunciation, especially if they have difficulty making a specific sound.

I think when one learner has an individual problem they become shy. Perhaps, by helping this student individually to begin with, but then including the rest of the class…. I find that the other learners are keen to get involved, but the learner who’s making the error becomes shyer.

Is this the wrong way to do it? Am I causing their embarrassment?

Maybe it’s that they are disappointed because the other learners can make the sound effectively.


Well, what I try to do is

1.         Not to ‘fix’ the student, nor to see their thing as a ‘problem’, but to see this as an opportunity for a learning journey together

2.         I work with them for a moment one-to-one in front of the group, not to fix the problem but to help the learner approach it and discover for themselves what needs to shift

3.         While doing this I hook up the others with my look, as if to say “Hey watch this… there is something pretty interesting happening here…”, and for a half minute they are touched by some real one-to-one learning going on in front of them. And I also get other students to have a go.

BUT even if they get it correct (which they might) I push them for a higher challenge (e.g. faster, or louder, or more connected, or more interesting or slower, or less energy, or clearer, or refine the sound, or check the word order etc. ) so after just half a minute everyone is individually challenged, no one is hanging about waiting for the first student to get it right “so that the lesson can continue” and I go back in the midst of all this to the initiating student (the one who gifted us the mistake in the first place) and work further with them.

4.         I do not see the mistake as a nuisance which ‘suspends’ the lesson while we stop and deal with it. It IS the lesson! A mistake is a gift. It tells us exactly what needs doing now.


Filed under Uncategorized

2 responses to “Does using “one-to-one-in-a-group” help overcome embarrassment at performing in a group?

  1. Pingback: ‘Does using “one-to-one-in-a-group” help overcome embarrassment at performing in a group?’ by Adrian Underhill & Jim Scrivener | English Teaching Daily

  2. great tip. i got directed after being on our #AusELT #dhelt chat from @ElkySmith – thank you!

So ... What Do You Think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s