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How to give one-to-one lessons

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  • abigailc
    12 October, 2007 at 19:54
    • Total posts: 1

    I qualified in August and now I’m teaching in Barcelona. My flatmate has asked me to give her 2hours per week of one-to-one lessons. Even though I had to give a one-to-one lesson as part of my TESOl assessment, I’m still unsure as to how to go about it properly.

    My student wants to focus on grammar, speaking and listening as these are her really weak areas. I think she is between elementary and pre-intermediate level.

    Any ideas or advice would be appreciated, thanks.

    Sue Swift
    13 October, 2007 at 10:10
    • Total posts: 26

    Reply To: How to give one-to-one lessons

    There are several approaches you can take with 121 lessons. At the moment, I’m using four different approaches with four students who all have very different personalities and needs. And that’s the advantage of 121 – you can adapt your approach to the needs of the student.

    First of all, 121 lessons don’t actually have to be any different from class lessons. If your flatmate is elementaryish, she really still needs to cover the grammar etc that you would with a class, and there’s no reason that you can’t use the same materials as you would with them. Get a textbook that you like and think she would too, and use it as the base for your lessons. Personalise it by encouraging her to talk about herself in relation to whatever the topic of the unit is.

    If she does have special needs, you may be able to focus on them too by choosing the right materials. For instance if she’s learning English for work, choose a business oriented book, and again, personalise. When the book focuses on e-mails or phone calls, get her to write an e-mail or roleplay a recent phone call that she recently had to do at work.

    Remember that, if your using a book designed for groups, you will have to be her "partner" for PW activities. As it’s difficult to participate and monitor at the same time, it’s often best to tape the conversation and then replay it to help her formulate what she said more accurately etc.

    The other worry that people often have with this approach, is that they "shouldn’t" ask the S to do activities like reading and writing where they are not involved. Not true. 121 students have just as much need to write things down, and to have lower-paced moments in the lesson as do classes.

    I’m using this book based approach with a student who is very unwilling to communicate (in any language) – the materials give structure to the lesson .

    Alternatively, if she’s a "chatty" person, a second approach is to start the lesson with conversation, and then pick up on a grammar point or whatever comes up, focus on it, and then turn to the book to practise it. I’m using this approach with a student who, if I say Anything interesting happen yesterday? will talk solidly to the end of the lesson. My role is simply to help her formulate what she wants to say in language which is within her grasp. I then pick up on a grammar point which has come up in the conversation, explain it and give her a practice activity to do (she has a grammar book with exercises). She then does more follow up activities for homework. In the next lesson I also give her a revision activity on vocab which came up the previous few lessons.

    A third student, who’s elementary, also follows a set course, but every third lesson she brings me documents from her work – presentation slides, emails etc – and we work on those. Again the challenge is to help her express what she needs to communicate within the language that she can cope with.

    A fourth, at upper intermediate level, is very interested in politics and wants to improve his listening, speaking and vocabulary range. So we work on texts from the BBC website, often those from the Learning English words in the News section. I start by asking him, what he already knows about the topic, we then use the article for listening comprehension practice, after which I give him activities focusing on the language (mainly vocab but sometimes grammar) it contains.

    So, as I said before, the beauty of 121 is that you can choose the approach and activities based on the student’s personality, interests and needs. But don’t think you necessarily have to do anything radical. In your flatmate’s case you may decide that the book-based approach would suit both of you best.

    Hope that helps.

    For articles on ELT methodology and practical activities – http://eltnotebook.blogspot.com

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