to One: Tips to Make your Lessons Fun
On the ESL
forums one often sees teachers asking for
ideas on how to make their one to one lessons more fun.
Many teachers are excellent in class but
suffer when it comes to
teaching children English individually, and that is a shame because
one on one can be very rewarding, as well as often being a good source
is broadly divided into four parts as follows:
importance of making your lessons fun
Tips for using one to one games
Ideas for short plays
4. Added value ideas to enhance your teaching and reputation
1. The Importance of Making your
By far the
best approach for children for successful
and fun one to one teaching is to use games and songs.
In fact if you want to inspire your pupil
and have him or her want to come to your lessons instead of being
come by mummy, you have to make the lessons fun. One of the tricks is
to have a
substantial library of games that work for one on one teaching. Another bonus is to have a
strong sense of
fun and be prepared to join in the games.
If you teach
using games children will love your private
classes, and their parents will love you for the results you achieve. A bi-product of this
already very successful
combination is that by teaching children in a fun way, you establish an
important link between enjoyment and learning, which can enhance the
that child’s whole life.
2. Tips for Using One to One Games
Here now are
some ideas to use games successfully when teaching
one to one. Most
games need more than
one player, which means that you sometimes need to join in and play the
too. You could say,
"well then I'd
just win all the time", and that can be true.
So if you are playing a game that is not just
pure luck, and
where normally you would win all the time, then you can do things like
- Give your
pupil a head start of 10 to 30 seconds.
- Make your
- Double the
task you must complete in the same time your
pupil completes it once.
- Award your
pupil three points to your one.
- Award your
pupil 10 bonus points at the start of the
deliberately by being slow (but pretend to hurry),
or 'accidentally' drop your pen.
of adding an element of fun to a one to one
lesson is to use a stopwatch or timer to add excitement. This allows your pupils to
themselves rather than always being in competition or playing against
pupil each round of a game and see if they can
beat their previous time. You
use the stopwatch to give a time limit to an activity, aiming to allow
just enough time so that your pupil is more stimulated than if he or
simply working methodically through the exercise.
that tick and have a bell that goes off after
the given time is up are also good.
Your pupil must complete the task before the
bell goes off. Substitutes
for an over timer could be an
alarm clock, a wind up musical box or an egg timer.
you find on hotel reception desks are also
fun. The students
race to tap on the
bell when they have their answer.
is more effective when you have two or more students but is still an
element for the younger children even in one to one lessons.
always be sensitive: be careful that one
person does not always lose and only use competition if you see that it
enhances the mood rather than causes unnecessary tension or a loss of
children between the ages
of 3 and 6 any form of competition is best avoided.
You can play the game or use the timer as
usual, but make sure
that you play until the end so everyone wins – not just the
person who finishes
first, and with the timer idea, it is essential that the child finishes
the time is up – even if you have to indefinitely extend that
time. If a young
child does not finish in the
required time it really upsets them and they will probably cry
– and that is
not the aim of the game. Rather
want the child ALWAYS to succeed, so that he or she feels great about
link for free one to one games and a video: Free video of one
to one games here!
3. Ideas for Short Plays
to one is immensely rewarding, as progress
can be fast. In
addition to games
putting on short plays with your student in front of their parents or
is also a winning activity.
absolutely love to be the centre of attention and show off what they
learned. One can
repetitive scripts with basic English, but with a funny twist in them
will give a great deal of pleasure to the child, who will be happy to
and perform, and for the parents who will be so impressed with your
that they will be sure to keep sending their child to the lessons.
for short plays include things such as a client and
a waiter in a restaurant. The
calls the waiter, who fails to come to the table and the client has to
him again and again becoming more and more exasperated.
Eventually the waiter arrives and asks for
the order. The
client gives the order
and the waiter repeats it back, but incorrectly.
The client gives the order again, and the
waiter gets it wrong
again, until eventually the waiter gets it right.
The waiter goes off with the order and returns
with the food, but
there is a bug in it, or a worm, or a giant bogey, urgh! It's very immature I know,
but kids love
it! You can give
the child a plastic fly
swat as a prop that they have hidden on their knee until this moment. They then start swatting
away on the table
and ask for the bill (as they are not going to eat there). When the waiter goes off
with the bill the
child sneaks off without paying and the waiter comes back in with the
looks for the client, looks under the table, and runs out after the
secret to making a short play like that work is that
you use the same language, exactly, each time, with no variations. That way you can wrap this
play up with
complete beginners in a few sessions, rehearsing for 10 minutes during
session. You don't
want to only learn
the play but instead first introduce the language in the play using
gradually introduce the play, one section at a time.
Each time you see your child you run through
the play a couple of
times, adding a bit on each time.
at the end of each term you can perform it.
I recommend a bare minimum of props because if
you use too many props
the children will waste rather a lot of time preparing them, because
all this quite seriously you see!
However if you can have at least a couple of
props such as a tray and a
tea towel for the waiter and a fly swat for the client that goes a long
the child's imagination.
If you do not
have a tray to hand use something else like an A4 flashcard or piece of
card, then on the day of the performance you can always bring in a real
or ask the parents to bring one.
4. Added Value Ideas to Enhance
your Teaching and Reputation
If you really
want to help your protégé as much as
possible then lend or recommend films to watch for homework, such as
Batman, King Kong, or Cinderella and Walt Disney movies - all in
NO subtitles. Your
pupils will watch
these many times over willingly and will absorb a huge amount of
even if initially they cannot understand the dialogues.
you are thinking about the cost of buying videos then
take heart. You can
find very cheap
second hand videos and DVDs on the Internet.
Over time you can build up a library of these
for your teaching
purposes. You would
want to take a
deposit on loan of your material to ensure its return.
could also build a library of comic books to read for
homework. You would
not expect your
student to understand all that much initially but the subconscious will
absorbing the language all the time.
combination of giving fun classes with games, getting
results and offering extra services such as a video or comic library,
you apart from your colleagues and you'll be sure to get lots of
recommendations from parents to you for private classes.
summary then an outstanding one to one teacher uses
games to teach English and puts on a show each term for the parents to
their child, to see how well they are doing, and to give the child a
show off and feel proud. Games,
and songs are all things children love.
As an add on to your exceptional teaching
skills you can also offer
recommendations or the loan of English films or comics for even faster
THE AUTHOR: Shelley
Vernon promotes learning through fun esl games and encouragement.
Check out this special edition of games with VIDEO demo for
fun one to one
teaching here: one
to one esl games for children