Authentic Speaking and Listening Activities for One-to-One ESL Lessons

Teaching ESL One-to-One speaking and listening activitiesOne of the disadvantages of a one-to-one ESL lesson is not having other classmates with whom to practice, which limits their interaction to solely the teacher or instructor.

In fact, one of the most common challenges teachers face is being able to provide their students with authentic practice that will truly prepare them to interact with an English-speaking world. This challenge becomes even more complex once you take into account that these classes often do not take place in English-speaking countries.

Nevertheless, a resourceful teacher can overcome these difficulties providing authentic speaking and listening activities.

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Authentic Activities – Teaching ESL One-to-One

Since there are no other students in a one-to-one class, the most authentic speaking activities would involve either the student on his / her own or the student interacting with the teacher, but the opportunities do expand when creativity and technology come into play.

Speaking Activities – Teaching ESL One-to-One

Authentic situations where students would need to speak by themselves include:

– leaving a message in someone’s voice mail

– reporting an incident: at work, to a landlord or to a professor in university, among other examples

– ordering a meal on the phone or at a drive-through

These spontaneous speaking tasks are sure to make students worry. When confronted with them in real life situations, they might approach them with fear or avoid them altogether. A one-to-one lesson is the perfect situation to prepare students for these tasks since it is a safer environment.

These tasks would also involve a listening component that is perfect to introduce students to the topic and the task. Listening to authentic voice mail messages, reports and orders will give students the correct frame of reference for their own speaking later on. If the teacher does not have access to authentic examples of their own, or if the teacher would like to make other accents available for their student to expand their practice, some authentic recordings can be found at Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab.

When students are asked to perform authentic tasks when listening to these pieces, the practice becomes twice as useful to them since they might find themselves in the future having to perform these tasks as part of their day-to-day life or in a job.

Listening Activities – Teaching ESL One-to-One

Authentic listening tasks include:

– taking notes

– filling out a graphic organizer or a specific form listening to an oral report

– taking orders at a drive through

– summarizing

– following directions

– understanding a traffic report

When these real-life recordings and tasks are completed on a regular basis, a student’s development of their speaking and listening skills can improve exponentially.

Can you think of other activities for one-to-one lessons? Comment below with Disqus!

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