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One-to-one and very small classes...........

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Joined: 26 Oct 2011
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 11:23 am    Post subject: One-to-one and very small classes........... Reply with quote


I'm about to start teaching a couple of one-to-one classes and also a very small class of only 3 students. So I was wondering if anyone has any ideas for games that I can play with such small numbers.

It seems everything I learnt on my TEFL course and all that I used during my first year teaching is only really suitable for larger classes and certainly not 1-to-1.

I have dice, cards, 'checkers boards' etc. that I can utilise if necessary. My students are all adults.

I'm particularly 'concerned' about one of my new classes which is 2 hours long with just 1 person, especially as I've not done much 1 on 1 teaching.

Anyway, thanks in advance.
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Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 3030
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1-to-1 offers the perfect opportunity to actually converse more naturally with the student(s), rather than "talk at them" from a distance only as and when the lesson plan allows ("students talk good, teacher talk bad" and other such nonsense, when a good conversation has to be a two-way process). That's not to say that there aren't ever any good conversations with(in) larger classes, or that smaller classes don't need any planned input, but in each case the challenge IMHO remains the same: to transform the dialogues, grammar, exercises etc of the textbook's lesson 3 or whatever into more personal, interactive, dare I say intimate conversation. Anyway, you can find out a bit more about my thoughts on the "teaching" of conversation by searching for keywords like 'conversation, 'Dogme', 'Thornbur*' and/or 'Slad*' (re. Thornbury & Slade), 'discourse (analysis)' etc with me as author, both here and over on the Job Discussion/International forums (latter requires separate, vetted registration), and apologies if I appear to have made standard/large classes and your teaching of 'em sound too bad (it was just, I "needed" that strawman to springboard into my "answer" LOL). But if you draw a blank with the searches and/or would prefer just a few simple links, do ask and I'll try to dig a hopefully interesting~relevant thread or two out for you. Wink

Last edited by fluffyhamster on Sat Nov 05, 2011 4:41 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Joined: 27 Jul 2009
Posts: 45
Location: Austin, TX

PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:27 pm    Post subject: Small Classes Reply with quote


It can be tough with just one student. Especially if the class is 2 hours! I have done one hour classes with 1 student before. You can still do activities. For vocabulary words you can make flash cards with a picture on one side and the word on the other. After the student looks the words over you can have him spread them out on the desk and play concentration.

For grammar you can write out a bunch of sentences that contain the target grammar concept. Cut out each word and have the student recreate the sentences one at a time. Most of the activities I do in my class can be done with one student. It is more fun with more, but that is not always the case. Good luck!

Andrew Lawton
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Sheila Collins

Joined: 22 Oct 2007
Posts: 46

PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hand them each a dictionary and play Scrabble.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the responses so far. My first ever 2 hour class with just 1 student is on Monday.

Of course with groups you can set up debates and if their level is high they often just start talking amongst themselves which I just let flow. But when it's just me and the student, arrrgghhhh! I'm worried as all the games I've done in classes have been with groups, and 2 hours is quite a long time when in such an intimate situation (especially without alcohol).

I've got a pack of cards........but I guess I can't spin that out for very long, lol. Well, I've a couple more days yet.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 4:23 am    Post subject: one-to-one Reply with quote

What is the student's level?
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Sally Olsen

Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1322
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can start a whole group of different activities and do them in the same order each time for about 10 minutes at first, stretching to 15 if the student is interested. If you get into a routine, then the students don't mind doing one thing they don't like for a short time.
Conversation about their week
Short story from newspaper about their area of interest
Vocabulary from that story that they don't know
Grammar points that they chose
They dictate a story using some of the vocabulary - you write it down.
Game on vocabulary from last week - review - it could be a cross word puzzle or scrabble with the words rather than letters, Concentration, matching word to synonyms or antonyms, filling in the blanks with that specific vocabulary, flash cards
Expansion of the topic of the last week - another article with a different opinion, more information, or different topic using the same vocabulary basically. You can follow up with maps if you are talking about places, or pictures and name the vocabulary in the pictures - they can be photos or art
Categorizing the words you are learning into speech parts (some can go in more than one category).
Break for something to eat and casual conversation
Exercise on grammar - you make up the sentences from an exercise in a book but with the students vocabulary. The student reads the exercises out loud and you discuss solutions.
A dialogue - again adapted from a book about some social situation the student might meet in an English setting that would be different from the student's culture. Change roles. Do it four or five times until you can both do it from memory. Give the students some alternatives of the dialogue from every day English and more formal English. Put the play in different contexts - many people in the room, in a bank, in a theatre, at a home, wherever it might possibly happen.
Teach him a card game and then have him explain the rules back to you. Make mistakes.
Show a short video from Youtube and get the student to write down the story after you have gone over the vocabulary. Use these stories in following weeks for vocabulary and grammar.
Learn a song together - play the song over several times while following the words, explaining vocabulary and grammar and deviations from grammar and vocabulary. Have pictures of the story line if possible.
Ask the student about places to visit and have them point them out on the map, how to get there and what to do and how much it will cost and where to eat, etc. When you have visited, bring back pictures and have them tell you more about the places, history, town, and so on. Bring back brochures and pamphlets for them to translate to you. Write them out in English.
Get them to bring in photographs, pamphlets, documents to translate to you or you to them.
For the last five minutes bring up some problem you are having with their language and let them teach you.
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