Resources or tips for 1 to 1 classes?

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Resources or tips for 1 to 1 classes?

Unread postby mrBen » 03 Jun 2010, 10:21

I've been preparing students for exams in 1 to 1 sessions for a couple of years now and now I've started getting private students without any concrete goals (there's a sales team at my school, they sign the students up and give them to the teachers).

Mostly, these students are rather advanced (around C1, especially in reading and listening) so there aren't a lot of obvious lessons that I can use. We usually have 1-2 hour sessions and I know I'm going to get buried in prep work unless I can figure out some tricks. Any advice?
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Re: Resources or tips for 1 to 1 classes?

Unread postby systematic » 04 Jun 2010, 01:49

I have found that one of the best methods is structured conversation. Find out what their interests are then use supports such as newspaper or magazine articles, or if you have access to a video recorder or a laptop computer, short TV news items or short documentaries. If you have access to the Internet in your classroom, you could try the ONE MINUTE WORLD NEWS at http://news.bbc.co.uk or any of the regional news items. Determine how much (or how little) they understood, and epxlain where necessary.
Ask for their opinions on the subject matter, followed by their suggestions on how the situations they have read about or watched could be resolved or improved.
Never interrupt their flow while they are doing the talking - unless it is completely unintelligible - but make a mental note of the errors. Devote up to the last third of the lesson to remedial teaching, with emphasis on correct pronunciation and intonation, grammar, and especially with advanced students, complex tenses and idiomatic expressions. Combine some written exercises with the remedial work.

A text book support you could examine is the Let's Talk series by Leo Jones, Cambridge University Press.
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Re: Resources or tips for 1 to 1 classes?

Unread postby Avocado » 12 Jun 2010, 15:05

I agree with Systematic about keeping it conversational and using various resources as conversation topics.

I'd add that you have to assess the student before you can really decide what to do. If the student is a false-beginner with poor Fluency, you might do little else than talk and build up vocabulary lists for a while. On the other hand, if he's one of these fast-talking Pidjin English speakers, you can focus on Accuracy. Skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening) and Conversation Tactics (agreeing/disagreeing, changing the subject, etc.) ought to be assessed the same way. Basically, check the student out, see where he's strong and weak, and build a strategy around his weak points.

Surely you have some sort of coursebook? A default plan is to follow it loosely, digressing into conversation wherever possible/interesting. Naturally, it helps if you're a good conversationalist.

One more thing--I wouldn't over-plan. Privates have a way of going off in unexpected directions.

I don't mean to sound authoritative; these are just my musings on the subject.
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Re: Resources or tips for 1 to 1 classes?

Unread postby systematic » 14 Jun 2010, 04:08

Avocado wrote:Privates have a way of going off in unexpected directions.

They do indeed - and one important point that I omitted to mention was to establish the student's areas of interest and also use them to build some, but not all, of the topics for conversation on.
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