Trinity TESOL Study Resource no 6: Lesson Planning
When teaching, whether we are working from a course book or designing a lesson from scratch, we need a thorough plan of where we want to go and how we want to get there. It’s a little bit like planning a journey: you need to determine what to pack, which route to take, and you need to anticipate some of the problems you will encounter along the way. As with planning for a journey, effective lesson planning is one of the most important elements in successful teaching. A plan is a guide for the teacher on where to go and how to get there. In this Study Resource for the CertTESOL, we will have a closer look at: What is a lesson plan? Why do we need to write lesson plans? What is the key to lesson planning? What are the main stages of a lesson? What are some questions to ask myself when planning? How can we anticipate problems and solutions?
WHAT IS A LESSON PLAN?
A lesson plan sets out what language and/or skills you intend to cover with your learners during the lesson (i.e. the aims of the lesson) and how you intend to do this (i.e. the activities that the learners will be engaged in to help them achieve these aims). In many ways, the lesson plan represents a mental picture of the thought and preparation that you have put into the lesson and how you envisage it unfolding in reality.
Your plan should include details about: learners learning aims context anticipated problems and solutions materials and aids procedure
The Procedure page may be laid out something like this: Stage Aim Teacher Activity Student Activity Interaction Timing
WHY DO WE NEED TO WRITE LESSON PLANS?
One of the most important reasons is for you to identify your aims for the lesson. You need to be able to pinpoint exactly what language items and skills you want your learners to be able to use better by the end of the lesson.
Careful planning and preparation will also: help you to think logically through the stages in relation to the time available keep you on target give you confidence give your learners confidence in you make sure that lesson is balanced and appropriate for class help you focus on teaching areas you need to improve in provide you with a useful record
WHAT IS THE KEY TO LESSON PLANNING?
Your learners Think about their language level, age, educational and cultural background, motivation, strengths and weaknesses, learning styles, etc. Try to base your activities and materials around the needs and interests of your group to make learning relevant. The better you know your learners, the more you can personalize your lesson content and make it suit your group.
Aims One of the main principles of planning is establishing clear and realistic aims that are achievable and meet the learners’ needs. Your aims specify language items that they will have learned and skills they will have improved by the end of the lesson. Aims are stated from the learners’ perspective, rather than focused on what the teacher is going to do. Some examples are: for learners to be able to use the past simple tense of irregular verbs when talking about their last holiday for learners to be able to read a news article for gist
Clearly stated aims, and achieving them, are key indicators of good plans and good teaching.
Context To make it meaningful to our learners, it is important that language is always encountered in context. Consider how the language naturally occurs, who uses it, about what, where, when, why, and how. Try to keep the situation relevant to your learners.
Variety Variety keeps the learners motivated and engaged, and also helps you cater for different learning styles within your class (visual, auditory, kinesthetic). Plan to vary your teaching techniques, activities, materials and interactions.
Learner involvement Try to engage the learners as much as possible: include plenty of student-centred activities and maximum student talking time,...