Difficulties You May Face if You Don't Plan Classes
Lesson planning is not a task that should be taken lightly; it is the foundation for all EFL classes and plays a significant part in determining how successful students will be. While motivation and desire to learn are factors in each student’s success, a good teacher should be able to inspire motivation through interesting and student-centered lessons. However, this can only be achieved through careful consideration of all lessons.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Natalie M. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
First, teachers need to understand the general format for EFL lessons. Lessons should always begin with an Engage stage, to stimulate interest and prime students to speak in English. Lessons should always end with an Activate stage, to encourage language experimentation and fluency. A Study stage should come somewhere in between. The Study stage is the best way to build language accuracy because it provides students with a controlled environment to practice the language and receive feedback. If all three stages are not included in a lesson plan, students may find themselves lacking in interest, accuracy or fluency.
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With this understanding, it is important to consider how to incorporate each stage, as well as how each stage will contribute to an overall goal. Teachers should always have a clear and specific learner objective in mind for each lesson. If the teacher does not know what they want their students to have achieved by the end of the lesson, it is likely the students won’t either. Thus, teachers should identify the language point their lesson will address, before class. Once the teacher has decided on a language point, they should plan what specific activities they will use to help students achieve the objective set for them, as well as how long each activity should take and what materials each requires.
Choice of Activities
Preplanning activities are extremely important for several reasons. First, different activities are better suited to different language points. For example, communication games are helpful when getting students to experiment with grammar, while miming helps elicit new vocabulary. Before class, teachers should consider which activities are the most relevant and useful for a specific language point. Further, lesson plans are helpful because they allow teachers to visualize who will be interacting, and for how long. Increasing student talk time through pair or group work is extremely beneficial for students. This is because it increases the opportunity for students to practice English and gives students a safe environment to share their ideas. Before class, teachers can evaluate the interactions they have planned, and decide if additional pair work or group work should be added to make the lesson more student-centered.
Minimizing Anticipated Problems
Next, preplanning allows teachers to ensure that each lesson flows and demands the use of a variety of skills, such as speaking and listening. If a lesson is improperly structured, students may find themselves lost, disinterested, or unable to complete the activities. Further, preplanning ensures that teachers have the proper materials ready for each class. Visuals and props are vital to EFL teaching because they draw attention and stimulate interest. Worksheets—such as crosswords, gap fill, and reading-comprehension questions—are also vital, because they allow for guided practice of language points. If a teacher has not preplanned their lesson, they may not have any materials prepared for class. Not only will this make it nearly impossible for the students to engage with the lesson or understand the language point, but it will also make the teacher seem unprepared. Further, unprepared teachers and boring lessons can lead to discipline problems in the classroom, especially with younger students who have shorter attention spans.
Another aspect of lesson planning that is helpful for teachers is troubleshooting. Before class teachers should understand what problems may arise regarding the language point or to classroom management, and figure out how they will respond to these problems. Being prepared will help teachers more effectively manage issues as they arise. Additionally, when lesson plans are prewritten, teachers can reference them during the class to ensure they are staying on course and on time.
Record of Your Work
Finally, the lesson plans are fantastic records. As previously discussed, student boredom can be triggered by uninteresting, predictable, or repetitive lessons. Thus it is important to record what activities have been done, what language points have been covered, and which materials have been used. Not only will this help the teacher plan varied lessons, but it will also help them remember which language points they should review and check for retention.
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Overall, we can see that lesson plans are useful for both the teacher and their students. The teacher is more likely to feel comfortable and excited to teach when they understand their goals, how they intend to achieve them, and how they will react when something goes awry. Further, when a teacher properly plans a lesson, students are more likely to engage during the class and to retain the information being taught. Lesson planning ensures that teachers and students get the most out of their time together.
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