Go for a walk outside or look out of the window and analyses passers-by. Have your student create crazy stories about people and be creative.
Take in pictures for your students to analyses. Take the pressure off yourself and get them thinking.
Prepare some dialogues or co-write some which are relevant to the topic of your lesson. Go through them together, playing a part each then switching roles.
Use reading materials in your one to on lessons. This gives you some breathing space and gets them speaking. Analyse the text, teach them what new words mean, ask them questions about it, play grammar games, have them re-write part of it or anything else you can get out of it.
This is a classic word game whereby you think of a sentence, set out the underscores on the paper where a letter goes and have them attempt to guess the phrase.
Prepare some word cards to make sentences with. Give them a piece of paper and take one yourself. Draw a 10 squares grid and write a verb in each of yours and have them put a noun in each of theirs (for instance). Tear them into individual cards and get them into 2 piles face down. Turn the top card from each pile and have them make a sentence with the words.
Give your student a blank piece of A4 paper. Have them draw a grid as demonstrated below:
Use the relevant vocabulary according to your grammar point. Instruct them to draw a happy face in any 3 squares and to keep the locations of their faces hidden from other students. In pairs, have them battling to get rid of their opponent’s happy faces by asking questions. For instance, in the above example, by asking questions ‘Can I/you/he/she…?’ If there is a face in the corresponding square, the response is positive and the face is eliminated. If not, student gives a negative response.
Pick a theme or grammar point and brainstorm examples and ideas together on the board. When you’ve finished go around each word and have them make a sentence.
If your student has reasonable English ability but is a bit limited in terms of speech, tell them that it is incredibly important to use the word ‘because’ when you speak English- in order to justify a statement. Every time they make a statement ask them ‘why?’ This helps to get them speaking more and thinking in more depth about their language use.
Set the topic, you say a related word then they say another, keep going backwards and forwards. Throw out new words along the way to teach them.
There are hundreds of board games you can play with your one to one students to break the ice and break the monotony. Use some of the old favourites like Scrabble and Guess Who or design your own.
After each class tell them to find a news story to tell you about in the next class. You can also bring some materials in to act as reading material and hopefully to set up some discussion.
Teach your student the terminology for family. Draw an imaginary family tree on the board using celebrity names etc to make it humorous. Quiz them the relationships between any 2 given people. Have them create one for their own family.
Role-play a job interview scenario with your student. Take turns to play the parts of interviewer and interviewee.
Roll the dice
Bring a dice to the lesson. Allocate a task or forfeit for each role such as spelling a word, saying a grammar point etc. Take turns with them to roll the dice and carry out the task for the number it lands on.
Simply stand at different sides of the room and pass a ball back and forth. Each time you throw it, ask a question, when you catch it give a response. This works as a good ice breaker.
Set them the challenge of giving you a word beginning with each letter of the alphabet. After doing it once, limit their options by telling them to only use words within a certain setting i.e. the classroom you are in.
You start by saying a word. Your student has to say a word which begins with the last letter of your word and the process continues back and forth.
Tic Tac Toe
Play this game as an ice-breaker and keep the conversation flowing throughout.
There are many card games you can play with just two people. Use the cards as an ice breaker to distract them from the fact that they are practising their English and they may be more willing to open up.
Go for a walk
You don’t necessarily have to stay in the classroom or teacher’s office to teach a student one to one. Go to the local shop and have them try to name items, go to the park and do some people watching or go and have a coffee and relax in a nearby cafe.
Lie to me
Tell your student to tell you complete lies about their life. They may feel less limited than just talking about their actual life which probably revolves around school and computer games. Encourage them to exaggerate about what they have done earlier in the day etc.
Truth, truth lie
Tell them to write and/or say 3 things about themselves- two of them are true and one of them is a lie. You do the same and try to guess each other’s lies.
Write a word on paper and don’t show it to your student. Give them 20 questions to ask questions in order to ultimately guess your word. Only give them yes or no answers.