So, after planning a lesson tailored to the needs of the individual student, all they seem to want to do is have a chat. You start to wonder if it is worth planning the lesson at all. Then there’s an occasional pang of guilt when you think about how much the student is paying just for ‘a chat’.
This is, I’m sure, a familiar situation for many an EFL teacher. A one-to-one lesson naturally lends itself to a less structured approach. The teaching situation, in fact conforms very much to the three tenets of Dogme teaching (Lessons are Conversation Driven, Materials Light, and focus on Emerging Language). But what about that nagging thought? What would the student say they learned in that lesson? Are they making progress? Are they aware of the progress they are making?
One thing that can really make a difference is ensuring that there is a good amount of feedback and error correction. One approach is for the teacher to take notes throughout the lesson on new language and areas of difficulty. A template such as the one below could be used to keep a record of any student mistakes in language and pronunciation, and any new emerging language:
Dealing with feedback
The teacher could devote the final 10 minutes or so of the lesson to language feedback/upgrading. This time can be used for the following:
- The student can be encouraged to self-correct their slips and the teacher can work with the student to upgrade their language.
- The emerging language can be revisited and recycled, perhaps with the teacher ‘testing’ the student. E.g. ‘What was the word for that small, round, green vegetable you don’t like?’
- The teacher can elicit the correct pronunciation of any words, utterances, highlighting difficult sounds or stress patterns; this can be followed by some targeted drilling to improve the student’s pronunciation.
- As in the picture above, a different coloured pen can be useful for this stage.
Of course, at the end of the lesson, the student can take the language review home to look at in more depth if they want to. It can be useful for the teacher to take a photocopy too in order to inform future planning and encourage further recycling of language.
Advantages of this approach:
- This encourges a high level of overt feedback on production.
- The students have a record of emerging vocabulary.
- The students are encouraged to self-correct their slips and errors.
- The student becomes aware of their most common mistakes and fossilised errors.
- Progress is easier to track and importantly, it is made overt to the student.
- The other side of the form can be used as a mini whiteboard for any language presentations/clarifications.
- The student leaves the lesson with a record of what they covered in the lesson and opportunities to review it in their own time.
I personally use this form with all my one-to-one classes and find that students really appreciate it. Some of my long-term students have kept all of their feedback forms in a folder and would refer back to them during following lessons, trying to remember words from previous classes and remembering their previous mistakes. If you’ve never used this approach, then give it a go. Here is a blank template which you are more than welcome to use: One-to-one Error Correction
Feedback and suggestions are very welcome in the comments below: