Lesson Planning for the EFL and ESL Classroom
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EFL Lesson Planning Podcast: eight minutes
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A lesson plan is simply a step-by-step guide to what an EFL teacher plans to do in the classroom on a given day. The more detailed the steps are, the better. Ideally, you could not go to work on a given day and another teacher could read your lesson plan and know exactly how to teach your class on that day. A good lesson plan might even include specific gestures and cues used for various parts of the lesson. That’s how detailed your plan should be.
There are literally hundreds of types of lesson plans but there is not one format accepted by all schools. Many schools have their own set format; others will let you use whatever format you like. There is, however, some general agreement about what should be included in a good lesson plan.
Generally agreed components of a lesson plan include:
Lesson Name: What will you call the lesson?
Class/Level: Age, topic, skill level, class name
Materials: List everything you need to teach this lesson. List every possible thing you will need to take to the classroom, and/or obtain from the school to complete the lesson. This list can help you make sure you don’t forget any handouts or special materials that you need to take to the class.
Textbook/Course book name: From what book are you working or drawing the lesson?
Unit—title—page number: Specifically where in that book?
Goal/Aim: What are we working toward today? Describe the final result of the lesson in this format:
The students will be able to ___(do what?)________.
Example: The students will be able to ask and answer questions about their hobbies and interests
Grammar Structures Employed: Show the structures. Use a structure chart if needed.
Questions and Answers relevant to your lesson: Ask these questins during the warm-up to elicit from students what they may or may not know about the topic to be covered.
NOTE: Lesson Begins Here
Warm-up: This includes a review (revision) of the previous lesson linked to this new lesson. It should also include the questions and answers you have written above as well as questions used to elicit conversation using the new structures and functions you intend to teach. This section can also show examples of what your students will learn in this lesson. In some countries and with some age groups, this may come in the form of a specifically designed game.
Presentation (or ESA format): Note the target language to be taught and how you will teach it. Include how you will stimulate the students’ interest in the language and how you might elicit from the students the language you are planning to teach. Include details as specific as when you might model structures and dialog and when you will require a repeated response (choral response) from the students. Include a structure chart for the grammar or the dialog you intend to teach.
Practice: Include the specific activities you have planned and attach any handouts related to them to the lesson plan. Include up to three practice activities, sequencing them from most to least structured, slowly giving the students more freedom.
Production: This is where students really learn and generalize a new language skill. Allow/encourage the students to talk about themselves, their lives or specific situations using their own information but focusing on the target language that was taught in the presentation and practiced in the previous activities. Include exactly what you will ask the students to do and that you intend to monitor students and encourage and correct them as needed in their use of the target language.
Conclusion: Discuss/recap what you have studied and learned during the lesson. In some countries and for some ages, this will be followed by a game that uses the target language.
Many experienced teachers, once they have methodology set in their mind, write only minimally structured lesson plans as they will have developed a set routine for how they approach each lesson. New teachers should develop the habit though of rigidly following a detailed lesson plan they have written for at least the first six months to a year. This will require some real discipline, but it will pay off in terms of skill development over time.
Sit down after each class and take a few notes about what went great, what went wrong and how you might have done a better job. This will help you in refining your skills. Even very experienced teachers put some serious thought into problems that occurred during class and how they might best be corrected.
Save every lesson plan you write. If you teach a certain book or certain topics repeatedly to students of similar levels (and you will), you’ll find you need only a little polish on the lesson drawing from your notes that you wrote from the previous paragraph.
You can find literally thousands of EFL/ESL lesson plans on the Internet. Take a look at few and you will rarely see the same format used. But they will generally have, in one form or another, most of the information indicated above.
Try the website below and see what they have and note the similarities and differences between the lesson formats. Don’t get stuck in a rigid idea of what a lesson plan should look like. You’ll notice many lessons that are called “lesson plans” really aren’t!
Following is a “Lesson Plan Format” based on the lesson plan in the Basic Concepts section above. It will open in a new window in Word.
One of the best pages on the web for understanding what is behind lesson plans is here: Lesson Planning and that page includes two very useful (PDF) downloads:
A recommended resource is over at www.Teach-nology.com They have a Lesson Plan Tool that will help you better grasp the idea. Read their section on What to Consider when Writing a Lesson Plan. Teach-nology is not an EFL/ESL website but their ideas dovetail nicely into helping you get the big idea about what a lesson plan is and should be and why. And the lesson plan tool can help you play around a bit with the basic ideas.
When you get a handle on all this, you can be a REAL teacher!
Note: If you are taking any of our certification courses, please review this Ten Point Lesson Plan Checklist to make sure you have covered everything that is important BEFORE you submit your lesson plan project(s).
Now you are ready for the section on Boardwork.
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