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Top 5 Interesting Writing Activities for One-to-One Classes

Emily Smith

Teaching a one-on-one lesson can often be a lot easier than teaching group lessons. But as a teacher, it’s hard to find writing activities that are suitable for a one-to-one session. Since you are alone with the student, it’s not always a great idea to give writing activities that will leave you, the teacher, staring off into space while your student is busy writing away. Instead, try to find writing activities that are engaging and require input from both you and the student. We’ve put together a list of five interesting writing activities for one-to-one classes to help you plan more effective writing lessons.

1. Interviews. First, show your student a basic interview in a magazine or a newspaper. This will help him/her get familiar with the format of an interview. Then, you will get to play a different identity while your student interviews you. You can be a pop star, politician, or even an alien visiting earth for the first time. Start by helping your student prepare a list of appropriate questions. The questions should also help the student gather the kind of information he/she thinks readers will enjoy. Once the student is finished preparing, the interview can start. The lesson is only going to be as fun as your answers are, so as a teacher you have the opportunity to make the lesson quite entertaining with your creativity.

Since you are alone with the student, it’s not always a great idea to give writing activities that will leave you, the teacher, staring off into space while your student is busy writing away.

2. YouTube stories. Play any YouTube video for a minute or two and then stop the video mid-sentence. Your student has to write the rest of the unfinished dialogue and continue the story for a few more lines. Pick different kinds of videos to make it more interesting. You can use cartoons, soap operas, advertisements or mockumentaries. Do this with 4-5 different videos.

3. People watching. Take your student to a park or a coffee shop. Tell him/her to look around and see what’s going on. Have your student write down a detailed account, including a description of the way the place looks, who is there, and what people are doing. You can point things out to your student but don’t give away the description. For example, remind your student to check out the posters on the walls, but don’t tell him/her how to describe them.

A teacher instructs a schoolgirl in a high school class

4. Make a Book. Photocopy the illustrations from a children’s story book. Without reading the story to your student, tell him/her to look at the pictures and write a story that fits. After he/she is done, then you can read the original story and see how different or alike the two versions turned out to be.

5. Daily Journal. One way to get your student to write more is to ask him/her to keep a journal. You can assign this as homework and then discuss it during class. Rather than just giving a student a blank journal and asking him/her to write down thoughts, some students may need a bit of prompting. You can create categories for each day’s journal entry. Sections can say things like, “Today I feel…”, “The highlight of my day was…”, “The low point of my day was…” and so on. This will help your student to frame his/her thoughts. You can ask your student to write a journal every day or just once between every time you have class. When you meet your student for his/her lesson, you can review the journal entry and discuss any grammar errors he/she made in the entry.


These are just a few writing activities that work well in one-to-one classes. As a teacher, it is important to help your language student to develop all aspects of that language unless you are hired specifically to teach one element such as “conversation”. It is imperative that you help your language student develop his/her writing skills. Have you used any of these methods in your classes? If you haven’t used these writing activities, but have had success with some of your own, let us know about those too!

About the author

Emily has taught English to ESL learners in four Asian countries. Although she taught students from 3-60, she has a definite affection for preschoolers and college students. She has also worked as an ESL curriculum writer and is TESOL certified. When she is not teaching, she loves watching and making films.