Whether you use published ESL resources or plan your lesson from scratch, you
will need a basic structure. With some experience, you may only need to jot down
a quick list of topics and activities and then gather your materials together,
but especially for new teachers, it's usually helpful to write a complete lesson
plan. Consider the following framework.
Decide which communication skills you wish to develop. Will you focus on
reading? writing? listening? speaking/pronunciation? a combination of these?
In what context? Consider a useful application for the language you will
practice, things such as taking phone messages, using the post office, or
interviewing for a job. These types of specific skills are sometimes referred
to as "competencies." Seemingly non-interactive themes like gardening or
holidays are fair game, as long as you integrate communicative activities.
It's often a good idea to begin with some kind of warm-up activity to help the learners focus on English and block out the distractions of daily life. This doesn't necessarily need to be connected thematically to the rest of the lesson, but it's nice if it is. Warm-ups usually take 5-15 minutes and practice material the learners already know. Avoid new material in a warm-up because the goal of a warm-up is to diffuse inhibitions
and help students transition into English thinking and speaking. A game-like atmosphere
can help capture student interest, or you may choose a quick review of the last lesson or
homework. When reviewing, ask
learners what they remember and then fill in missing pieces rather than simply
summarizing the last lesson for them.
Most of your meeting time will probably be spent focused on one or two themes. Present new material and give learners a chance to practice it thoroughly. You may want to include pair or group work, silent reading/writing, games, or conversational discussion. Your lessons will be more interesting if you use real-life materials to support the text. For example, if the
lesson theme is telling time, bring in a large clock with adjustable hands to demonstrate with. Show a video of a job interview, bring in a rental application,
play a recorded clip from the radio, share photos of your family. Try to incorporate something outside of the textbook
or printed lesson every time you meet.
Especially if the lesson content has been challenging, end by reviewing what what was covered as well as what the learners already know. By finishing with something familiar, learners will leave with the impression that English isn't too difficult after all.
You can use the following reproducible worksheet to design a thoughtful and
complete lesson plan. You may choose to omit a section or add activities based
on the time you have. Use the "Time" column on the worksheet for estimating the
amount of time you wish to spend on each section. If you find during your lesson
that your estimate was incorrect, you can adjust by adding or cutting another
activity. New teachers frequently over-estimate the time needed for an activity,
so it's wise to have some backup ideas to fill in leftover time. Write any
handouts or real-life objects you will need in the "Notes/Materials" column.