Planning a successful lesson one-on-one in 5 steps

Planning a successful lesson one-on-one in 5 steps

Lesson planning ensures 70% of success. An unprepared teacher, especially inexperienced one, can produce a really negative impression on learners. We are not saying that a lesson plan should be rigid and strictly followed. There should always be some space for flexibility especially in teaching one-on-one. But a well-thought lesson plan will help you to exude self-confidence and be ready for any challenges.

Follow our 5 steps in this article to help you plan effectively.

Step 1
Take into consideration the following factors before planning a lesson:

  • language level of your student.
  • his learning goals (if you haven’t done a needs analysis yet, it’s a high time to do it)
  • his weak and strong points.
  • his interests.

Finally, think of the aim of your lesson.

Step 2
Choose the material in the Student’s book. Select 1-2 main skills or subskills which you are going to focus on. Try not to overload your student and squeeze everything into one lesson. This can be overwhelming. In this case the less, the better. An ideal combination of skills can be: grammar and speaking, vocabulary and listening, reading and grammar etc. You are free to use the coursebook the way you like.

Read the main skills lesson framework (the order or the lesson stages) just to remind yourself the procedure.

Pay attention to the stages that can be omitted in the coursebook:

  • pre-reading or pre-listening tasks in order to activate schemata or raise learner’s interest.
  • post-reading or post-reading tasks in order to encourage speaking.
  • elaborate the stages of working with grammar: prepare CCQs, timelines and tables for clarification of the target grammar structures.
  • select productive grammar or vocabulary tasks.
  • think how you would elicit the meaning of some vocabulary items.
  • be ready to clarify the meaning of the vocabulary which are not target but may arise while reading or listening. You might need to think of simple definitions, synonyms or pictures etc.

Step 3
Think how to vary Student’s book materials. Consider some factors in step 1 and find appropriate additional resources on the topic.

Typical additional tasks can be:

  • an extra speaking activity which helps to practice target grammar or vocabulary.
  • a short video for discussion.
  • a game or a roleplay to demonstrate how to use the new material in real life situations.

Step 4
Try to predict possible difficulties and the way you are going to overcome them. Remember your student’s weak points. If he/she has a difficulty memorising vocabulary items, prepare more drilling activities or games.

If you teach the Third Conditional, there can be some issues with form and pronunciation which can be eliminated by extra drilling or using a diagram or a table to illustrate the form.

Is the definition of the key vocabulary item too complicated? Think of some alternative ways to clarify the meaning.

Step 4 is crucial because, as you know,  ‘Forewarned is forearmed’.

Step 5
Prepare some extra tasks in case you have some spare time or you won’t have enough time to start a new topic or activity. It can be:

  • a  short speaking activity.
  • a grammar or vocabulary revision activity.
  • a filler or a cooler.

Lesson plan organization
For teachers with minimum experience, it’s better to fill in a lesson plan template every time they prepare for the lesson. More examples here.
More experienced educators can use a short lesson plan in their notebooks or sticky notes where they write only the key points.

For example,
1. Lead-in: discussion questions ‘What I like and I don’t like about my city’, “What is the most beautiful city you have ever visited?
2. Grammar:

  • presentation: a text “The most beautiful city in the world” (p. 56).
  • clarification: CCQs in exercise 5 (p.57), a poster ‘Comparatives and superlatives’.
  • practice: exercise 7 (p.57), exercise 8 (p.58)
  • production: exercise 9 (p.58) + personalized questions about the architecture of a student’s city.
  • optional: the video ‘The tallest building in the world’+ check of comprehension (2-3 questions) + discussion.

3. Sum up: a delayed error correction and praise.

We really hope that you will find this article useful. Write your questions and ideas below, please!
Let’s discuss lesson planning.


Юлия Белоног

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