Planning one-to-one lessons

Some time ago I wrote about how I (am required to) plan my lessons. What I wrote there actually only applies to groups. Apparently, I do not have to produce such an accurate plan for my individual students. To tell you the truth, nobody ever told me what I am supposed to produce for these courses, and that gives me freedom to organise my work as I see fit.

So today I’d like to share how I prepare for my one-to-one students, keeping in mind that all this is based on my personal choice and experience and does not have any sound methodological background (that I know of).

Before the lesson

I generally go through the notes I took during the previous lessons (see below) and decide on the aims of my upcoming lesson. I have either a notebook or a word file on my computer per student, where I write down the date and aim of the lesson. The course is more like one giant needs analysis session, where I spot the student’s needs and try to react to them either during the lesson or during the following one(s). So the syllabus is created lesson by lesson, keeping in mind the final goal of the student.

After I have decided on the aims, I pick something from the coursebook or from a set of activities, or I go online and search for something suitable if nothing I have fits my aims. I generally get a bit more than I need, just in case one activity goes wrong or finishes too early (I find it quite difficult to predict timing in a 1:1 lesson, especially at the beginning).

After the lesson

If I haven’t had time during the lesson, at the end I take a few minutes to write some notes on what I have actually done — this more often than not turns out to be quite different from what I had planned following some needs or questions from the student — homework assigned if any, and emerged language / problems / questions to work on in the future. I also note what we’ve been doing, as well as issues, strengths, problems or points to work on in the future.

I will use this material to plan my next lesson, and to monitor the student’s progress.

I’d be happy to hear if you approach this type of lessons differently. Does your school give you a framework you need to stick to for individual lessons, or are you freer to experiment?

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8 thoughts on “Planning one-to-one lessons”

  1. Sounds pretty much like me. I normally try to think in tasks and functions to decide on what to cover next.

  2. Also very similar. I keep detailed notes from each class in a T-S shared file and every one or two lessons I share a vocab set on Quizlet based on vocabulary studied. I also assign reading&listening which creates content for the next lesson and works as a thread between lessons.

      1. I can DM you an example of one if you want. My problem’s finding authentic listening. I don’t have time to waste on youtube and never watch TV.

  3. Hi Giulia,

    I meant to comment the other day when I shared the post on Twitter. At our language school, we asked teachers to write LPs for 121 students as well as groups. These were all meant to be kept on file in case anybody asked for them during an inspection. So we used the same forms for groups and 121 sessions. They weren’t supposed to be too detailed; to tell you the truth, I think a lot of people just filled out the form after the session and recorded what they’d worked on that day.
    The way you describe how you plan sounds very familiar. 🙂

  4. Elizabeth Mattei

    Hi Giulia, I so identified with what you do. I’m a free lance teacher ( 1:1 face to face and on skype) and I’m free to choose and/or design material and plan my lessons. Sometimes I think what I do is not really organized or what SHOULD be done but it has been working fine, which does not mean I’m always for improvement, as well as it is for you, I guess. Thanks for sharing.

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