If you do private, 1-1 language teaching, then you’ll need to keep on reading. I’ll share with you my top tips, tricks, games and activities for 1-1 English teaching to keep your students (and their parents!) happy and improving their English skills.
Private Teaching Activities and Games: Top 20
Private teaching can sometimes be a little bit difficult because the activities and games you’d normally use with bigger classes often won’t work when it’s just you and a student. I know that I’d way rather teach a class of 30 than a private session with only one or two students!
However, I still occasionally do private teaching and I have a go-to repertoire of activities and games that I rely on. These are mostly appropriate for both children as well as adults with some adaptations.
I’ll share a few of my favourite activities for 1-1 ESL teaching here. Are you ready for some ESL awesome? Then read on teachers!
#1: English Central Videos for Private Teaching
I love to use videos to teach English, but it’s sometimes not easy to find ones on YouTube that are the right level for your students. That’s what makes English Central so great. The videos are grouped according to level and there are lots of features that make it really easy to use them in your lessons. Try them out in your private teaching lessons and I’m sure you’ll find them useful.
More details about English Central here:
#2: Follow-Up Reading Activity
I will often assign reading of some kind for homework in my private tutoring sessions. Extensive reading is an excellent way to build vocabulary, reinforce grammar concepts as well as increase speaking fluency. However, it works best if you do a few quick follow-up activities in class together.
One of my favourite is this Story Timeline Review. It’s excellent for kids as well as adults and easy to adjust depending on the level of your students.
Check out this follow-up ESL reading activity here:
#3: Is that Sentence Correct?
Is that Sentence Correct is an excellent way to review some grammar or vocabulary concepts that you’ve introduced in previous classes to make sure your student has a good grasp on them. It’s reasonably fun, or as fun as teaching grammar can be!
Check out this fun English grammar activity below:
#4: Brochure Scanning: A Reading Activity for Private Teaching
It can get pretty boring just to read the standard stuff from the ESL textbooks. You know what I’m talking about I’m sure. There are the same old stories, again and again.
It’s often better to use authentic material, especially for intermediate or advanced-level students. Brochure scanning is one way to introduce some authentic material into your private teaching sessions.
You can check out this 1-1 reading activity here:
#5: Fortunately, Unfortunately Warm-Up Activity
Fortunately, Unfortunately is a fun warm-up for the beginning of your private tutoring class. You’ll have lots of laughs and get the creative juices flowing. It’s a great way to help ease your student into using English.
Check it out here:
Ideas for 1-1 English Private Teaching
Check out this short video below for even more tips and tricks:
#6: Cosmo Quizzes for Private Teaching
If you’re a woman and teach another woman of a similar age, you’ll find that Cosmo quizzes can be really fun to do together. They’re almost guaranteed to create some interesting discussion about a variety of issues, including whether or not quizzes like this have any validity, or are a total waste of time. There are some less taboo ones, so search around and you’ll be able to find a suitable one.
More details here:
#7: Ideas for Business English
Many ESL private lessons are focused around business English. If this is the case for you, there are certainly some specific resources out there to help you with this. Business English is quite different from general English and your students will certainly appreciate some focused attention on it.
Here are some of the best ideas:
One of my favourite ESL tutoring activities is presentations. I love them because they can give our students a real skill to take into the world with them. And, it’s less intimidating to work on presentations with only one person (you!) than it is in front an entire class.
There are a ton of different kinds of presentations you could consider having your student do. Check this out for some of my best ideas:
#9: Conversation Starters
A classic private ESL tutoring activity is free talking. Sometimes it’s easy if the student is chatty but if not? Then you’ll definitely want to have some conversation starters up your sleeve to have some things to talk about. Here are some of my top picks for this:
#10: Making Predictions
Talking about predictions for the future is an excellent way to introduce or review the future verb tenses. Plus, it often leads to some very interesting discussions. Here are some of the best activity and games you can use for this topic:
#11: Tips for ESL Private Tutoring
#12: Current Events Presentations for ESL Private Teaching
I love to talk about what’s going on in the news with my students. They seem to enjoy it too because the topics are relevant to real life and not the same old things you usually see in most ESL textbooks!
A nice activity to go along with this is to have your student do a presentation, especially if they have to do presentations in their jobs or at school. Check out these tips for getting it all set up:
#13: Retell the Story 1-2-3 Speaking Fluency Activity
A nice ESL tutoring idea is this one that focuses on fluent speaking. The way it works is that your student has to tell a story about something in a certain amount of time. Then, they have to say it again but have less time. And then a third round but with less time. The key is including all the same information.
Want to find out more? Check this out:
#14: Reading Focused ESL Private Lesson
When doing private ESL tutoring, I often like to do some reading focused lessons. There are lots of excellent news articles that can be graded to match the student’s level if necessary. Besides reading the article, there are a ton of activities that can be done along with it. Here are some of the best options:
#15: What are you Cooking?
This is a fun ESL activity that is actually designed to be done in small groups. However, it’s also a nice ESL private tutoring idea. The way it works is that you can each give the other a list of ingredients. Then, you can design a 3-course meal based on this.
Sounds like something you want to try out? You can see all the details here:
#16: Draw a Picture
A fun activity that is ideal for working on things like body parts, numbers and shapes is this one where you have to describe to each other a picture to draw. Find a funny alien or monster picture and then have a good time together! The results are usually hilarious. Switch it up and do both roles with your student.
Check out this fun ESL speaking and listening activity for 1 1 teaching here:
#17: Sentence Building Activities
Helping your student make better sentences and teaching them about English sentence structure during a 1 1 teaching session will always be a fruitful exercise! Here are some of the best ideas for that:
#18: Giving Directions Private Teaching Activities
If you are doing private ESL tutoring for someone who anticipates traveling outside of their country, a fruitful exercise can be a lesson related to giving directions. After all, what’s a more common travel experience than feeling a bit lost when in a foreign country, right?
Sounds like something your student might be interested in? Here are the best ideas for that:
#19: Would You Rather?
A fun warm-up private English teaching idea is Would You Rather? The way it works is that you have to choose between two things and it can be either positive or negative things. For example:
- Would you rather play tennis or watch TV?
- Would you rather eat super spicy chicken wings or mashed potatoes without salt?
Find out more here:
#20: Past Tense ESL Private Lesson Game
Like These Private Teaching Activities and Games?
Then you’ll love this books. It contains 39 ESL activities for private teaching lessons. They’ll save you a ton of time when you’re planning your lessons and there’s enough material to keep things fresh and interesting for months of classes with the same student. Trust me. If you want to keep your lucrative private teaching gigs, these books will help you do just that.
You can get it on Amazon in both print and digital formats. The cheaper digital copy can be downloaded onto any device by getting the free Kindle reading app.
Check out the book today:
Have your Say about these Activities for Private Language Teaching
What’s your go-to activity or two for when doing private English teaching? Do you have any tips for 1-1 ESL teaching? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
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