One-to-One Activities: Teaching Writing, Speaking, Listening, and Reading Skills

TEFL certification one-to-one articleOne-to-one ESL students can also learn and practice all language skills. This article will show you some ideas, activities, and tools for teaching English one-to-one effectively.

Listening Skills – Teaching ESL One-to-One

Music tracks, music videos and podcasts provide an excellent source of listening comprehension material and they are generally available for free. All you need is a set of headphones and your laptop, and your lesson planning skills will do the rest.

Music and podcasts are essential when teaching one-to-one lessons. Otherwise, the only exposure to the English language would be the teacher and the student would have a lesser chance to understand different accents or people in a variety of real situations.

Websites like www.lyricstraining.com provide ready-made listening exercises for students. Remember that it is very important with one-to-one students to prepare a wide variety of exercises or tasks to prevent boredom or stagnant moments in the lesson.

Speaking and Presentations -Teaching ESL One-to-One

Teaching one student at a time is a great opportunity to help each student develop his/her speaking and presentation skills if that is what the student requires from you. You can use traditional presentation software like Powerpoint or Keynote, or you can venture into the Prezi world with the help of your laptop and the Internet. Prezi is a free online tool that can help your one-to-one ESL students organize and develop an impressive presentation that is sure to boost their confidence.

Readers’ Theatre – Teaching ESL One-to-One

Using short stories with at least one character in them, one-to-one lessons lend themselves well to Readers’ Theatre. The teacher can be the narrator while the student takes the part of the main character. Depending on the level of the student, he/she can take on more than one character if they are available, or focus on only one in order to personify this character throughout the whole story. Readers’ Theatre is a great activity to develop fluency and good intonation, as well as reading comprehension and overall reading skills.

Readers’ Theatre can even be done and prepared for an extended length of one-to-one lessons with a short novel.

From Dialogues to Opinion Essays – Teaching ESL One-to-One

A very interesting writing activity in one-to-one lessons is journal dialogue writing. This can be done the old-fashioned way with pen and paper, or by chatting or texting, or on a computer. This may seem a little strange at first, but it helps students immensely to develop their writing skills as well as their vocabulary. Furthermore, it contributes enormously to developing the necessary rapport between the teacher and the student.

The activity is easy. The teacher writes a greeting or question and the student replies in writing as well. A conversation develops in writing and the student gets to practice that way.

An excellent follow up activity is regular journal writing, which can then evolve into opinion essay writing. Essentially, the teacher can lead the student through questions to help them develop their ideas. The student can then expand on the ideas in journal format, and finally edit all the information with the correct transition signals and the right style into an opinion essay.

Real World – Teaching ESL One-to-One

If one-to-one lessons take place in an English-speaking country, the possibilities for activities expand to field trips and interviews with people in the neighbourhood. Taking your student on field trips in which he/she can search for vocabulary words in printed signs is an excellent activity for beginners all the way to low-intermediate students. This can be even adapted for intermediate and advanced students, if they are taken to public libraries or tourist attractions where they need to pay attention and learn about different sites for example.

Finally, giving students tasks that demand that they speak with native English speakers to complete their work is also an excellent source of practice, plus it adds the needed variety from the sole teacher.

Note that if the one-to-one lessons are taking place in a non-English-speaking country, some of these activities can still take place at local tourist locations if English materials are available, or if English speakers are present.

Do you teach English one-to-one? Feel free to comment below and share your favourite activities with us!

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