Is 1-to-1 tuition always better for the learner?

In the tuition scene in Singapore, there are predominantly three types of tuition classes: (1) large class of more than 40 students in a class, (2) one-to-one, and (3) small groups of 3-6.

Which is most suitable for a learner?

Large Classes

Having a large tuition class of 40 makes it virtually impossible to cater to most students’ learning needs. A student need to be very motivated to clarify his doubts and very strong in his understanding to be able to benefit from this kind of tuition arrangement. That is why many parents look for personal tutors when their children lags behind in learning. Having said that, many big brand tuition centres in Singapore still uses this model. Many parents are still going for such classes, partly because of the strong branding, partly also because this kind of classes costs much less than small groups and one-to-one.


While it is true that one-to-one tuition offers undivided attention from the tutor and 100% customized learning plan, it also takes away any opportunity for peer learning. Let’s not forget that while being focused and undistracted sets a good ground for learning, we also learn much better when we have peers to motivate us, to struggle with us, to discuss with us and to celebrate our successes with us.

Small Groups

The middle ground, of small groups consisting of 3-6 students, embodies the benefits of (1) attentiveness from tutor (2) the ability to customize learning plans and execute it (3) peer support and camaraderie.

The small group classes works in real life. For example, in Bamboo Green Education Hub, we have been running small groups of 3-6 students since day one. Every student learns at their own pace, according to what they are learning in school.

To make small group classes work, we put in place certain systems and we have experienced, versatile teachers to run the classes. The small group classes model work online too, though I’ve so far only tried it on adult learners, with a group of five young mothers, to whom I had the privilege to teach Math Model Methods. We have since became friends after 12 lessons together. To me, the friendship forged was even more valuable than the knowledge of Model Methods.

PS: A pioneer in online tutoring in Singapore, Xu Lao Shi, runs a successful online Chinese class in Singapore. Her classes typically consist of 4 students each. Watch her lesson demo here (

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