1. Guess the news story
Collect a week’s worth of newspapers (in any language) and cut out pictures of news stories from each one. Aim for a selection of five or six topical news pictures from that week. Then take a letter size sheet of paper (or cardstock). Cut a small square out of the middle of this card. When you come to class, place a picture from the news under the card so that only some of the picture is visible. The student must 1) speculate about what the picture is about, and 2) tell you as much as they know about the news story.
2. Written conversation or role play
Conduct a conversation but only in written form. Take a piece of paper and write a question to your student and give him/her the paper to write an answer on. Go back and forth like this until you have a good sized sample of writing. This can be used as the basis for correcting written mistakes and planning further classes.
3. Sticky-note mania
Bring a pack of sticky notes to the lesson one day. Look around the room and write a word of something that is in the room on a sticky note. Give it to the student and ask him or her to stick the note on the correct object. Do this until you have labeled many things in the room. At the end of the lesson call out things and ask the student to bring you back the sticky note (unless they would like to leave it on the object as a memory aide!).
4. Get out of the class
One-to-one classes are often extremely mobile, and teachers can take advantage of this. Ask your student to take you on a guided tour in English of their home or workplace. Do a shopping class, where you and your student go to several shops together. Or just go for a walk outside with your student and do your class like that one day. A change of environment is very good for refocusing the mind, and there are lots of new topics for language study that you can get just from walking down the street.
Prepare a series of question prompts on a topic. For example, if your topic was sports you could have the following question prompts:
- /like sports?
- what/ sports/play?
- what / sports /watch on television?
- ever / win / sports award? etc.
First, interview the student using the prompts. Then ask the student to do the same for you. When you are finished, review any special vocabulary or grammar that came up. Tell the student that for the next class he or she must prepare a similar list of questions on a different topic to interview you.
6. Index cards
One piece of equipment that is particularly useful for a one-to-one class is a set of index cards. Use them to keep track of new vocabulary. The cards can then be used from time to time to review this. You can also use index cards as cue cards for a presentation. Help the student write their cues for a mini presentation on a topic, then get them to give you the presentation using only their cues. You can also write different conversation topics or role plays on individual cards. Ask the student to choose one at random and talk about or act out the situation on the card.
7. Think of someone who
Many teachers of one-to-one classes are frustrated by textbook or resource material that is only suitable for large groups. However, some of these activities can be adapted. For instance, the classic Find Someone WhoThink of Someone Who and used with only one student. Using a Find Someone WhoFind Someone Who activity with a large class.
8. SWAT for one
In a typical “swat” activity, the teacher or tutor writes or tapes vocabulary words at random all over the board. activity can be changed to a worksheet, ask the student to write the names of people that he or she knows who match each category. The student must do this without telling you anything. He or she must also write the names down in a different order than they appear on the worksheet. Do the same yourself with another copy of the same sheet. Then swap papers. The objective is to ask and answer questions to find out which person written down on the paper matches which category. You and the student will therefore be asking and answering the questions several times, just like in a The words must be from past lessons, so that students are already familiar with them. Pairs of students are given fly swatters (hence the name “swat”). When the teacher calls out a word, the students race to see who can find and swat the word first. This is excellent for practicing scanning and sight word reading. In a one to one setting, write words on scraps of paper or on sticky notes. Distribute them on the table or desk top. As you call out the word, the student scans, then slaps or points to the word as quickly as possible. Use a stop watch to add to the challenge.