How to maximize speaking in one-on-one lessons

How to maximize speaking in one-on-one lessons

We won’t reveal any secrets by saying that one-on-one students prefer speaking to all other skills. Teachers know that teaching speaking is impossible without listening, reading, vocabulary and grammar. How to spend more time speaking without sacrificing other skills for it? As we say, so both the wolves have eaten much (our students) and the sheep have not been touched (other skills). Let’s consider some ways.

Milk pictures for all their worth

Modern books are full of photos on every page, they accompany exercises and texts for reading and listening. Don’t start reading, writing or listening until you make maximum use of visual material. Use illustrations to describe appearance, clothes, people’s relations, descriptions of places, predictions etc. It’s a great way to utilize vocabulary.
For example,

  • picture description and vocabulary activation/revision: What is Mattew/Olivia/ Lily wearing? Describe their appearance, please. Where are these people? What are they doing? How do they feel?
  • predictions: What might their jobs be? Where do you think they are going and why?
  • personal experience: Do you like travelling by plane? When did you last fly by plane? Where to? What do you usually do in the departure lounge?
    english language teaching, how to teach english, how to teaching english, teach me english, we teach english, methods of teaching english, teaching english speaking, how to motivate children to speak, english lessons for kids, kids speaking, kids learning english, children speaking activities esl
    From English File Third edition pre-intermediate

    Change True/false to recap the main events(points)

    Most of the tasks on listening include True/false or choose the correct variant. And the teacher checks the comprehension by the student’s short answers. Complicate the listening task by giving more space for speaking.

    For example, instead of true/false statements, ask your student to listen to the text for the second time and tell you the facts about Mr. and Mrs. Clark which they remember. You will check the comprehension anyway but your learner can improve speaking skills as well.

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    From English File Third edition pre-intermediate

    Involve personal experience

    No matter what you learn in the lesson, discuss the learner’s attitude or if they have ever done the same thing. The most interesting and useful topic for your students is themselves. Don’t go too personal, of course. Look at the previous example. After listening, ask your student:

    Do you like the portrait? Would you like to be painted in the same way?
    Do you have a favourite painting? Can you paint? etc.

    Predict as much as possible

    Guessing helps cause interest to what you are going to do and it is a chance to have more speaking.  For example, before reading, ask the learner to cover the text and look at the picture. Ask the questions:

    Who are these people for each other?
    Where did they go?
    Do they look happy? What happened?

    Having speculated about the photo, the student has practiced speaking and is more involved in reading. A win-win situation for both participants of a learning process. You can also use the title instead of the picture to predict what is the text going to be about.

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    Or while listening stop the recording from time to time and ask the learner to guess what is going to happen next. This adds extra speaking.

    Liven grammar up

    None of my students feel thrilled about gap-filling in our lessons. ‘Can we do that at home?’ they usually ask. So change a simple gap-filling to a communicative task.

    For example, a grammar exercise.

    Complete the gaps with the verbs in brackets.

  • She ___ (look) like her mother.
  • My sister____ (want) to get slim.
  • They ___( wear) jackets today.Modify the task to make it more interesting. Modify the task to make it more interesting.

    For example,
    Complete the gaps. Then ask and answer the questions.
  • Who ____(look) like in your family?
  • What ___ (want) to do now?
  • What ____(wear) today?
    In the second example, we work on both grammar and oral skills.

    If you find the article useful, ‘like’ it!  What other ways of maximizing speaking do you know?



Юлия Белоног

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