TESOL Lesson Planning
Jan 19, 2015 Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (T 2518 Views
The Art Of Lesson Planning
Some people feel as though lesson plans are a waste of time, or that they restrict their teaching freedom. It is true that sometimes we begin a lesson feeling rather under-prepared, but still manage to teach well. In a similar sense, we sometimes spend ages preparing a lesson, only to find ourselves changing direction halfway through.
However, lesson planning at some level or other is essential, and good teachers take it very seriously. There are a few general principles which we can point to with regard to preparing TESOL/TEFL lesson plans.
Keep them short and simple
Try to limit the length of your plans to no more than 2 A4 pages using 1.5 spacing and 12 point font. Obviously, this will not include any handouts or other practice materials, as these should be kept separately. A long and complicated lesson plan will bore your students and be too difficult to teach in the allotted time.
Start with a warm-up activity
This could reflect something done in a previous lesson and link to today's lesson. Alternatively, it could be a discovery activity to find out what your students already know about a particular topic, or to establish what vocabulary they know. Make it quite short (no more than 5 minutes) and keep it light and easy, encouraging student responses and interaction.
An activity in every step
Try to avoid steps which are complicated and involve lots of different activities. Instead, try to allocate a different activity to each step. This will make the lessons far easier to plan as well as teach.
Start off simple
With language practice activities, start off with simple tasks and build them up so that they gradually become more challenging. The easier activities will increase the confidence of the students, and this will continue as the activities become a bit more difficult. However, if you plan your lesson the other way around, the students may lose confidence quickly and become disheartened.
Be clear about the overall lesson aim
You need to be clear about the overall lesson aim as well as objectives you want to achieve along the way. The aim of the lesson could be general (e.g. a teacher may want to maximise student interaction through role play) or very specific (e.g. a teacher may want the students to confidently use first conditional sentences with 'if'). It doesn't matter how general or specific your objective is, but it is very important that you know what you want to have achieved by the end of the lesson.
Be clear about any target language
Many new teachers, and sometimes more experienced teachers too, jump to the conclusion that they know all there is to know about the target language for the lesson, only to end up getting confused. For example, imagine that the aim of the lesson is to introduce and practice 'have got' sentences when describing a family. If the teacher hasn't planned carefully, they may ask 'do you have any sisters?' rather than 'have you got any sisters?' and this will then confuse the students.
If you are introducing new grammar, try to demonstrate how it is used in context (with actions, puppets, pictures, drawings, mime, brief dialogues etc.) rather than trying to explain it. Explanations are often complicated and can sometimes be dull and difficult for the student to understand.
Include examples of the target language in each step
If you include examples of the target language you are introducing/practicing at each step, you are less likely to make mistakes. You should plan your lessons as if you are planning for a colleague, making everything perfectly clear. This will really help you when you come to teaching the lesson.
Include practice in all four language skills
This will make your lessons varied and more interesting. Wherever possible, you should include plenty of speaking practice. This is because in many ways, speaking is the key language skill. So whatever else you do in class, make sure that your lesson plan encourages students to interact with you as well as with one another. Speaking practice works well with paired and group work. Just make sure you avoid choral repetition - it has very little value and adults hate it!
After you've made your plan, annotate it and file them with any relevant handouts. Don't discard your plans afterwards - instead make notes on them to remind you what was successful and what you would change if you were to conduct the lesson again. It's a great way to help everybody improve!