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English, English language, teach English, English class, esl teacher, teaching English, English as a second language, lesson goals, lesson planning, lesson tips, lesson advice, English school, English course

Setting a goal for your ESL lessons is the most important step you can take in lesson planning. Not only does it help you to organize your lesson, but it also shows your students what they are learning so that they can measure their progress. Students want to be able to see progress! This is so important especially for adult students as they are often driven by their goals to learn English. This means that measuring their progress is super important for them. They want to be able to notice their English skills progressing. 

How do you Measure Students‘ progress? 

This can be done in a number of ways:

  1. Set clear goals at the beginning of each class and communicate them to your students (with children you probably don’t need to communicate it to them, however, their parents may want to know and it is still important for planning your ESL lessons). 
  2. End your class with an activity that allows them to apply what they have learned. This will show them that they have met the goals in class. (Using the PPP method works very well here because the produce section gives students the opportunity to use the concept they have been taught. For more on this check out my post on Lesson Planning with the PPP Method)
  3. Continue to review in future classes to make sure the student retains what they have learned.

Set Clear and Measurable Goals

English, English language, teach English, English class, esl teacher, teaching English, English as a second language, lesson goals, lesson planning, lesson tips, lesson advice, English school, English course

So let’s break this down into more usable titbits that you can apply to your own lesson planning. You want to set goals that are specific and measurable for students in each class. For adults, you want to make sure to set out these goals at the beginning of class. Why is this important? Well, based on my personal experience, when I would try new activities and exercises that my students were unfamiliar with or didn’t really understand why we were doing it, they often complained or were less enthusiastic about it. However, when I could give them a solid reason for doing the activity by setting out clear goals at the beginning of class and explain why we were doing this activity (the outcome), students were much more receptive to trying new activities and exercises.

This is especially true for students who may not be used to western teaching methods, and are more familiar with traditional teacher-led methods of learning. If you’re able to show them the goals and explain how the exercises support these goals it makes the class a lot more enjoyable for the students. (Again, with children they don’t really need that explanation, it’s more for you and their parents of course.) 

How to Set Clear Goals for your ESL Lessons

First you want to assess the needs of your students this includes thinking about student’s:

  • Age
  • country and culture
  • stage of life
  • hobbies and interests (you’ve hopefully learned about from previous classes),
  • why they are learning English (work, travel, general conversation etc.).
English, English language, teach English, English class, esl teacher, teaching English, English as a second language, lesson goals, lesson planning, lesson tips, lesson advice, English school, English course

So if I’m working one-on-one teaching an adult student online (I’m gearing this towards online work as most of you will be doing this just now). 

My student profile is as follows:

  • Adult (30-40)
  • Chinese
  • Wants to learn English for work opportunities and travel
  • Intermediate level

Based on my student’s profile I would focus my ESL lessons around travel and work themes.

For a work-themed lesson my goal could be something like: 

  • Giving a presentation
  • Negotiating a deal
  • Small talk (for a meeting)
  • Writing a business email

Once I have my goal I set measured statements for it.

Goal: Giving a presentation

Teach English Online with Premier TEFL

Measured Statements: By the end of class students will be able to(Basically, how do you measure success?)

  • Use relevant language to introduce the theme of the presentation
  • Present three main points
  • Conclude and summarise the presentation

Based on the goal this is obviously going to be a speaking class, teaching students relevant vocabulary and phrases to give presentations. This now sets you up for planning what you will do in class and getting the resources and vocabulary you will need for the lesson.

Language will include phrases such as:

Introducing a presentation:

  • Today I will be talking about…
  • This presentation will focus on three main points….

Listing points and ideas

  • First thing,
  • First I want to address…
  • Next,
  • Finally

And finally, concluding and summarising:

  • To summarise
  • To conclude etc.

Always be clear about the Goal(s) of you ESL Lessons

Make sure to put the goals on the board, and check them off as you work through them in class. Have a final activity that allows them to use the vocabulary. In this case, have them do a 2-3 minute presentation to either you or their partner or the class about a relevant work theme that relates to their job. This will give them an opportunity to use the vocabulary in class.

A final Recap on how to set your goals: 

  • Make sure you have specific goals for all your ESL lessons
  • Assess the needs of the students before setting a goal for your lesson
  • Show students how they have made progress (production activity using what they have learned). 
  • Outline the goals of the class to your students or parents of students (write them on the board and check them off as you go through them)
  • Explain why you are doing the activities and how they relate to the goals of the class.

That’s it! You’ve got a specific and measurable goal that will help you plan your lesson and map your student’s progress.

What goals did you set for class and how did you measure them? Comment below!

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  1. Thank you! These are good tips! Without setting goals, it’s impossible to track the progress of the lessons. This is especially important for adult students.

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