3 on 1 and 1 on 1 class ideas

Hi everyone! I’ve been doing part-time tutoring for a while now. I have a couple 1 on 3 classes and a few one on one classes. All are “conversation classes.” I use all kinds of methods to get us talking like ice-breaker games, conversation cards, ESL videos, question lists, etc. What other methods can I use??? I’m kinda running low on ideas and I want to spice it up since some of my classes have been meeting for over 7 weeks. I’m also starting to do some more one on one classes. I find small group conversation classes easier since there are more people. What are some good ways to have a one on one class with a young adult (i.e. ages 23-26…)

Thank you all so much!


Wow, it sounds like you have an impressive number of games and activities for your private classes. I’m sure your classes are already quite excellent, Jialin.

I would suggest coming up with a structured format for your lessons. This way, you don’t always have to find new games and activities. For example, you might start with a little small talk (talk about something that happened to you recently, ask the students about their lives), then go over some new vocabulary that will come up during the lesson, focus on the book for a few pages, then do a quick game to review vocabulary that came up.

Here are a few games/activities that have worked for me in one-to-one classes:

  1. Find a picture with a lot going on in it. Something like this:

Show the student the picture for 2 seconds then cover it. Ask student to tell you one or two things he/she saw.
Repeat a couple of times. Then show the picture for a longer period. Get student to describe what he or she sees. Student can also infer what someone is thinking or feeling, and predict what might happen next.

  1. Give a short talk on a practical subject (1-2 minutes). You could explain how to do something, or talk about something in the news. When you finish get the student to give you a summary. Then give the student some feedback.

  2. Ask student to look around the area where you have your class. Then describe something or someone you see, without looking in that direction. See if the student can spot what you are talking about.

  3. Assign your student to talk about something he or she is interested in. Take some notes, and then give them a few suggestions on how he/she can improve his/her talk.

  4. Read out a short text or tapescript from your teaching material. Tell the student you are going to make a few errors, and he/she has to correct you. Read out at a normal speed, making a few pronunciation, grammar, and semantic errors.

  5. If your student has a pet phrase he/she always uses (such as “OK” or “I know”), ask the student to bring a bunch of 1 n.t. coins. Tell the student to put the coins on the desk. Each time the student says the pet phrase, he/she has to give you a coin.

The busyteacher.org website has some decent articles on teaching one-to-one classes. Also, you may wish to purchase Learning One-to-one by Ingrid Wisniewska (Cambridge University Press), a resource book with a collection of over 60 activities for one-to-one lessons.

Jialin, why don’t you share a few teaching ideas of your own with the Forumosa community?

Why don’t you post the name of that book you got the picture from? I’ve got two copies of it at home but I can’t remember the title at the moment.

ha ha ha…I didn’t post the name of the book, because I don’t know the name of the book! :slight_smile:

I got the image from a Google Image Search. If anyone knows the name of the book that this picture appears in, please post it here.

Cover for “Short Cuts” ESL Book 1, McGraw-Hill 1995

Author: James Mentel

Amazon link: amazon.com/Short-Cuts-Intera … 0070418861