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?

Featured image from