One-to-one language lessons are a favourite resource in any successful learner’s arsenal, and most smart learners have long discovered that they can easily meet tutors online (check out italki if you haven't tried it yet).
But for many learners and tutors, it’s not always easy to stay excited about lessons...
…if all you ever do is talk about last week, language lessons quickly get boring
…if you don’t feel like you’re spending your money on a good tutor, you might give up
And teachers, beware: If there’s no creativity in online lessons, no one gets to have the results or the fun that they should have.
So what can you do to make sure you’re on to a winner?
This week, I have been reading a book that showed me dozens of new ways to shake up live lessons. It is written by Lindsay Williams from Lindsay Does Languages, my friend and co-host of the Creative Language Learning Podcast.
In 100 Creative Ideas for Online Language Teachers, Lindsay has brought together 100 ideas for shaking up language lessons. It’s a colourful ebook for tutors with lots of extra online templates, Google Docs, and slideshows.
I scoured the book for 5 inspiring ideas that you can use no matter if you’re a learner or a teacher. As long as you are hanging out with someone to practice your target language, these ideas will really kick you into gear.
Ready? Then let’s discover how to improve your language lessons right now.
1) Create a Study Plan Together
If you are in the market and looking for a new tutor right now, chances are you’ll want to know what you’re getting for your money. And if you’re a tutor taking on a new student, you’re keen to reassure them that they’ve made an awesome choice. In her chapter on Organisation, Lindsay suggests creating study plans together.
You simply get together and talk about where you want to be and what your language goals are for the next weeks and months (tip: Create Vision and Path Goals from the Language Habit Toolkit), and it’s the tutor’s job to help break down these goals and outline which resources you will be using.
Lesson planning takes 30-60 minutes, and I definitely recommend doing this activity together as a solid start to your time together.
2) Boost Your Listening Skills on Togethertube
One of the biggest risks of relying on a single person to be your regular language practice partner is over-reliance on their accent and voice. You may find that weekly conversations get easier, but it takes a multitude of voices for you to understand language at native speed.
In 100 Creative Ideas for Online Language Teachers, Lindsay recommends watching online video together using Togethertube. You can easily control the player, stop the video and discuss what’s going to happen next.
I was super excited about this tip because I had no idea Togethertube existed, and especially because it plays Dailymotion videos…and Dailymotion is the home of Deutsch Plus, my favourite cheesy 90s German learner soap.
3) Let the Student Correct the Language Tutor
You’re probably used to being corrected all the time by your tutor, so how cool would it be to turn that around? The next idea in 100 Creative Ideas for Online Language Teachers will finally allow learners to correct their tutors! The tutor prepares a text containing mistakes like wrong words, grammar errors, or a punctuation mistake. The student’s job is finding and correcting each mistake.
I’ve used this idea in my own lessons. It works with groups and individuals, and the challenge always helps to create a productive and focused lesson. After all, who can resist showing off their knowledge?
4) Tired of Talking About Your Day in Language Lessons?
Nothing can kill a good language lesson quicker than running out of things to talk about. You’re likely working with a tutor to improve your speaking skill, and if you’re nervous about starting to talk the following tip is guaranteed to help you loosen up.
Select a range of pictures that inspire conversation (you can find great pictures on Unsplash or Pixabay. You can ask your tutor to select them with you, or to surprise you with something really weird. It’s the student’s job to describe what’s happening, what might be shown in the photo, and what the people in the picture might be saying.
5) Write a TripAdvisor Review
Everyone loves creating reviews, and especially getting to share their travel experiences, so this is perfect. In Lindsay’s book, she gives 3 great scenarios and ideas that tutors can use to write those ideas with you right now. For example, why not go all out and describe your dream trip, somewhere you’ve always wanted to stay, and write about the hotel from heaven?
This activity is awesome because it encourages writing, but it’s so easy to combine it with reading real trip reviews online and even watching hotel promo clips. I love this so much, and I know my students are into travel and have a lot to share…can’t wait to read their holiday experiences!
Online Language Tutors: Get 100 Creative Ideas
If you’re a language tutor reading this, make sure you invest in a copy of 100 Creative Ideas for Online Language Teachers - it’s a digital treasure trove!
The book is awesome for online language teachers and tutors who want to bring creative new ideas into their classes. After 10 minutes of reading, I already started writing down new apps and ideas. There is plenty to try for working with children, adults, or even online groups. And since Lindsay has added tons of extras, you don't even have to do the work of finding how to set up your documents.
It's a great offer, and available now in Lindsay's Online School.
Related: Learn more about the book’s author Lindsay in my review of her course Successful Self-Study