Creating a good lesson plan can be tough! When I first started planning my lessons I felt overwhelmed and didn’t even know where to start. Over the years
Today, I’m going to break down my lesson planning process to create a generic template for you to plan your next lesson. This will help get you started and then you can tweak it and make changes as needed. You want to make it work for you, so it’s not always a one size fits all solution. Feel free to make it your own!
First things first
Choose your Lesson Plan Objective or Goal
Before even thinking about your ESL lesson plan you need a starting point. What is the overall goal of the lesson and what do you want to achieve? To be more specific: What should the students be able to do once you finish this lesson?
This can also be called your lesson objective (or LO for short).
To help you narrow it down, ask yourself what do I want to teach my class today? It could a grammar point, specific vocabulary or phrases around a topic, or a skill like listening or reading. The options are endless. It helps if you are using a textbook as you can choose your goal based on the lesson in the book.
For more on setting goals read my post: How to set Clear and Measurable Goals for your ESL Lessons
Decide on a Theme for your Lesson Plan
The next part is deciding on the ESL lesson plan theme. The theme of the lesson will need to relate to the LO.
- If you want to teach your students vocabulary about movies, you’re the theme is going to be movies!
- If you want to teach the grammar point present simple your theme could be based on daily routines, talking about habits or schedules.
- Want to teach listening? Have your students watch a television show and have students answer questions that help them with their specific and general listening skills.
Side note – Make sure the theme relates to your students’ lives!! Otherwise, they won’t find it interesting!
For example, if you’re teaching University students your theme could be about study habits or drinking habits. This would be great for practicing present simple tense (I usually study all day on Sunday. I never study on Saturday night etc…..).
The Lesson Structure
In general, I like to structure my lessons using the Present Practice, Produce method (otherwise known as the PPP method). I’m not going to go into detail here because I’ve already written about that: How to Make a Lesson With the PPP Method. I use that as a general framework for most of my ESL Lesson plans and change it as required (based on my time and goals).
Always start your lesson with an introductory activity!
The starter activity you choose or create will do 4 very important things for your ESL Lesson plan:
- Introduce the topic and LO.
- Connect and relate to the students to increase engagement and interest in the topic.
- Allow the students to apply their background knowledge to the theme and LO (what do they already know?)
- Allow you to see where your students are with the LO (Have they already learned it, are they using it in their speaking, what mistakes are they making
Example starter activity ideas for a listening lesson:
- Start with a question like: “What do you have the most trouble understanding in English? When do you have to listen to English outside the classroom?
- Have students watch a famous movie or television clip and write down as many words as they can hear and compare it with their classmates (make it into a competition)
This activity should only last about 5 minutes!!
A Great website to help with quick and easy starter ideas is Busy Teacher.
Teaching the Lesson Objective (LO) – Present
Next is the teaching segment of the lesson where you introduce the LO and teach it to the class (Present, Practice, Produce). This is the most teacher talk time during the lesson, however, make sure to ask concept checking questions, otherwise known as
Teaching tips to remember while preparing your ESL lesson plan:
- Make sure to use examples in context, and provide 3-4 examples of the LO in different contexts. Ask questions and check for understanding as you do this! (Get the students involved!)
- Utilize your teachers manual and make sure to cover all the points in your lesson. Be prepared for possible questions or things the students might struggle with.
- Relate it to real life scenarios. When will the students use the word/grammar point/ skill in their lives?
Controlled Practice Activities – Practice
Students should now have a chance to practice what you’ve taught them. (Present Practice Produce).
This is the part of the lesson where students practice the LO in a controlled setting. Use handouts or activities from your textbook for this. (Fill in the blank, matching etc.)
Teaching tips for practice:
- Have students do the exercises with a partner so they can work on it together. Or better yet find a pair work activity.
- Monitor and provide assistance when needed.
- Write down any mistakes or points you want to take up with the students later.
- Make time for correction and feedback – Correct as a class and drill down any mistakes (don’t spend too much time on this!! Pick one or two to correct as a class and check for common mistakes)
The Final Activity (Production)
This is your final activity where students get to practice the LO in context (Present, Practice, Produce). Make sure that your final activity is something that students can relate to. They should have a chance to produce the LO in context. Some great activities include interviews, surveys, games, short
An example of a production activity: If you’ve taught them vocabulary about the movies, have them do a role-play talking about a movie. Or have them write a movie review and present it to their partner.
- Make sure the activity will actually elicit the LO (If they learn about vocabulary to describe movies make sure the activity has them describing a movie whether it be conversation questions or a survey. The questions themselves should use the vocabulary they have just been taught.)
- Remind students to USE THE LO in the activity! Sometimes you need to be direct. This is the time for students to focus and use what they’ve learned. It should be intentional.
- Be creative with your activity! Use real-life resources like articles, movies or pictures. It could even be related to social media!
The final 5-7 minutes of the class should be for feedback, homework and final questions to make sure they understand the LO and see that they’ve made progress!
Congratulations you’ve successfully created a great ESL Plan!
Did I mention there is a free lesson planning template???
Questions or comments about using this in class? Let me know in the comments below!