Secrets of Designing a Working Lesson Plan
A lesson plan is one of the English teacher’s most useful tools. A lesson plan makes a teacher think concretely about what they want the students to have learned by the end of the lesson, and the steps for making that possible within the allotted timeframe. It allows a teacher to estimate how long various activities will take, and to think about what students will ideally learn from each activity.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Katherine V. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
What is a lesson plan for?
A lesson plan also functions as a record, helping a teacher to remember exactly what was covered, and when. Such a record will show the teacher whether they are teaching the correct material at the correct place according to the syllabus and the school’s goals and requirements. Lesson plans are also useful in case a teacher is sick and another teacher must cover their class while keeping up the pace of learning. Inexperienced teachers (like myself) will particularly benefit from lesson planning.
The ITTT 120-hour Course Units 9 and 3, and the ITTT CTEYL Specialized Course Unit 4, all recommend lesson planning within the ESA methodology. ESA stands for “Engage, Study, and Activate,” and is a method for exposing students to the target language and allowing them to use it while keeping their motivation high. ESA allows for classroom flexibility (lessons can be straight-arrow,” “boomerang,” or “patchwork” depending on the number and order of the phases) and is particularly suited to new teachers. During the “Engage” stage, a teacher gets students thinking and speaking in English and engages their interest.
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What materials to implement?
Materials that students tend to find engaging include music, pictures, and stories, and it’s especially good to link in language that will be used later in the lesson. During the “Study” stage, the teacher covers the language point for the day (eliciting as much information as possible from the students). A teacher will then usually give the students exercises to check their comprehension. During the “Activate” stage, students are encouraged to use the target language as communicatively as they can. Examples of “Activate” stage activities include story writing or sharing, role-play activities and communication games.
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How long ahead should you plan?
A teacher should write out their lesson plan in simple terms, as they will likely refer to it briefly during class. They should aim to balance the skills the lesson includes (the language skills being reading, writing, speaking, and listening) and should think about how one activity can flow naturally into the next.
As recommended by Unit 9 of the ITTT Training Course, I intend to include learner and teacher objectives and anticipated problems; a procedure and timing for each stage of the lesson; and of course logistical information such as the date, class level, and several students. Different teachers have different methods of lesson planning, ranging from thorough plans to brief notes.
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As an inexperienced teacher, I intend to follow the ESA methodology and to make detailed lesson plans until I feel more confident in the classroom and can anticipate how long certain activities will take.
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