Planning lessons for my ESL class has not always been an easy one.
Although formal training provided me with the basic tools of teaching, I have found that understanding the needs of my students ahead of mine is the most important aspect to take into consideration when planning any lesson. Every class is different! As teachers it is vital for us to identify the type of learners we have (i.e. visual, auditory, and kinesthetic) before planning a lesson as it makes work a little easier. Visual learners prefer using images, pictures, colours, and maps to organize information and communicate with others, while auditory learners are able to learn better by hearing information and kinesthetic learners study best when they are moving, or doing physical activities or working with their hands. Try to pick a topic that will appeal to everyone in class (teacher included) and one with which you are able to be flexible. Even if your lesson topics come a textbook and the text dictates a certain theme try to personalize the lesson as much as possible so that you hold the students attention for the entire lesson. Assuming your class is 45 minutes long, you will need to have enough prepared to fill that time without becoming repetitive or redundant. You will also want to make sure that your lesson covers the four basic learning skills, i.e. reading, writing, listening and speaking as these are important when teaching a second language. The following six steps have been a real treasure in my box of teaching tools. You may encounter a few problems during your execution; however, proper classroom management should iron out those issues. Executing this lesson planning strategy in my classroom as brought amazing results. I hope that you and your students will have the same level of success and mine.
Apply These 6 Stages in Your Successful Lesson Planning
Lead-in (3 minutes)
This is where you will introduce your topic to the class. Audio-visual aids such as a music video are an excellent lead-in tool. The lead-in should be 5 minutes or less as it is just a warm-up. For example: the famous nursery rhyme “Old McDonald had a farm”, could be a fun lead-in for a lesson on animals. Your objective here is to lay the foundation for your lesson. You don’t want it to be too long as it should not overshadow your lesson.
After listening to the song/watching the video you can ask the students to make a prediction on what topic the lesson would be based on for the day, it gives them a little thrill when they make the correct predication.
Elicitation (5 minutes)
Elicitation is basically ‘extracting’ information. At this step, you want to test the students’ current knowledge on the topic. A good way to elicit information from the students is to show them a prop, flashcards or a PowerPoint presentation. Each image or prop will get the students talking and more engaged in your lesson. For example, in a lesson on animals you will show the class images of different animals and get the students to identify the animals. You can take it a step further with higher level students and try to get them to name the offspring. Another fun idea is to play sounds of different animals and have the class identify the creature from just the sound; this would be an excellent way to practicing listening. Your aim here is just to test the students’ knowledge on the topic.
NB: Using funny looking images creates a lighter atmosphere in the classroom as it draws the student in and builds greater engagement.
Presentation (7 minutes)
In this step you will be presenting the main topic. So, if you chose the theme of animals you should have a ‘focus area’ such as animal homes. During your presentation you will talk about this topic. PowerPoint presentations; Flashcards or Charts are great for this stage of your lesson. Using your students’ current knowledge on the theme will be useful at this stage of the lesson. At this point of the lesson it would be appropriate to introduce the class to new vocabulary and key phrases. The objective of this step should be for the students to learn the appropriate use of key terms and phrases and how to use them in the proper context. It will also broaden their current knowledge on the topic.
Controlled Practice (10 minutes)
After presenting your lesson and teaching new vocabulary, you would want the students to put into practice everything they have studied. The best way to test their knowledge on the day's lesson is through a worksheet. Another great tool is doing a role-play in which the students can act out different social situations while using the key phrases and vocabulary taught for the day. Most often your topic will dictate the type of activity most suited for the lesson. The activities done at this stage should be able to help sharpen the four basic language learning skills. Try to get all the students involved and assist them where necessary.
Freer Practice (15 minutes)
Once again you will be testing the students’ knowledge on the lesson just taught; however, with this step you can be more flexible. Games are great for this as it creates a "freer" learning environment. It's both entertaining and educational. With this step you can do more than one activity depending on your time. Encourage peer teaching, that is, get the students to help each other.
Review and Follow up (5 minutes)
Towards the end of the lesson it's good to do a quick review to tie up the lesson and at the same time check of the students’ was able to grasp all the concepts taught. It’s a good idea to go over the new vocabulary and key phrases taught. Review could also be done in the form of a short worksheet like a word-search which they can complete in class or something longer if you wish to give the students homework for the day.
Note: The times indicated here are just for reference purposes.