The Principles of Creating Lesson Plans to Achieve Better Results
When I first started as an EFL teacher two years ago, my senior colleagues would often advise me to create a lesson plan well in advance of an upcoming lesson. Having had no formal teaching experience back then, it surprised me because I assumed that simply creating lesson materials for students was sufficient. I did not think that lesson plans were necessary because when I was a student, I had never seen any of my teachers referring to them on the job. It seemed to me that teachers were natural improvisers and could deliver lessons without any referenced document.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Qi Lin L. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Over time, I have come to realize that lesson planning is essentially a teacher’s homework.
Similar to how students are required to complete their homework to reinforce their understanding of course content, teachers must create well-structured lesson plans to deliver lessons properly. Lessons should be viewed as opportunities for lesson plans to be evaluated (in the figurative sense) by none other than students themselves. Judging from their responses, teachers can determine whether a particular lesson went well. In this regard, having a lesson plan as a record allows teachers to evaluate the quality of their lessons and make changes accordingly.
Indicator of expectations
Also, lesson plans are important in helping EFL teachers determine what they can realistically expect their students to achieve, about time constraints and language abilities, among others. While the elements of a lesson plan will inevitably vary from one teacher to another, I believe that it’s important to clearly define the learner objectives and target language points, to make sure that classroom activities are relevant. For example, if a teacher wishes to teach bargaining and shopping skills to an intermediate level class, the learner objective could be worded as follows: “For students to be able to buy items from a flea market using shopping phrases” (e.g. How much is it, I’ll take it). Meanwhile, the target language point could be worded as follows: “Application of comparative and superlative adjectives” (e.g. Can you make it cheaper, This is the best price).
Principles of evaluation
With the basic elements above, the teacher can proceed to consider what future evaluation may encompass. In this regard, it’s quite likely that one lesson is insufficient to incorporate all four language skills (i.e. reading, listening, speaking, and writing) equally. Instead, activities could be spread out over a series of lessons. Referring to this example, we can understand why lesson planning takes precedence over the lesson itself – the former gives a teacher foresight to anticipate problems and think about possible solutions in advance. This is especially useful for inexperienced teachers, who might not have developed the aptitude for dealing with unexpected problems that may arise. In this particular instance, since a sequence of lessons is needed to cover the target content in detail, some form of revision should be included in every lesson to ensure that students have retained important information.
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In closing, lesson planning helps teachers deliver lessons properly via goal setting. Throughout their careers, many teachers may find themselves spending more time making lesson plans than teaching itself. This is quite symbolic of the relative importance of lesson planning, which happens behind the scenes but still vital. For an EFL teacher, lesson planning represents a voyage into the intricate world of second language acquisition, and bringing a lesson plan to fruition is truly one of the most rewarding aspects of the profession.
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