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Googles definition of class says "course of instruction". Would that mean a class could be something taught to a single person over a period of time?

  • Yes, but we wouldn't normally call that a class, so if that's the whole definition, it's dodgy. – Minty May 10 at 13:26
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    No, a course of instruction doesn't imply something taught to a single person. Note that your over a period of time could just mean a single period (this afternoon, for example), but a "course" of instruction strongly implies multiple lessons (every afternoon next week, for example). – FumbleFingers May 10 at 13:27
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    I suspect there is a different understanding of the word between the UK and the US. As a Canadian, I have no problem with there being a class taught to one person. To me, a class is a class, regardless of how many people attend. On the other hand, I think it's unusual in the UK to describe a single person attending a class. (I think it would more often be thought of as a series of tutoring sessions.) – Jason Bassford May 10 at 17:49
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    You could teach a class or course of instruction to one person in the US, but it wouldn't be the norm. Unless someone explained it, you would assume it would be for a group of people. – Karlomanio May 10 at 22:17
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    To me a class is a group of students being taught together - by extension it can mean the course they are taking, but there still has to be a group. I'm not sure whether it's a UK/US thing, or just a difference between individual speakers. If you are taking one-on-one lessons then 99 times out of 100 they are not going to follow a syllabus that has been planned out in advance, so won't be a course - but that 100th time they will, AFAIC. – Minty May 12 at 20:23
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Typically, a class, or a course, is taught to a number of students together. The words class and course can be applied to one-on-one instruction, but such cases are marginal; they are not what one first thinks of when one hears these words. The words are most likely to be applied to one-on-one instruction in the contexts in which the similarities between such instruction and the instruction in groups are more relevant than the differences. For example, a student who says 'I am taking four classes this term', may be including in that number a ‘reading course’ or an ‘independent study project’ that he is taking alone—this is because the one-on-one character of that class is irrelevant to the point of the communication (which is about his workload or the total academic credit earned).

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