ESL Lesson Pace: 5 Tips for Class Time Management You'll Thank Us For

ESL Lesson Pace
5 Tips for Class Time Management You'll Thank Us For

Andrea Pesce
by Andrea Pesce 42,130 views

Time is always an issue, isn’t it? Normally we never have enough and occasionally but not often, we have too much.

In the world of work in general, everyone is obsessed with time. Deadlines, due dates and schedules have people running about. In the ESL classroom, time is also our tyrant. We have to keep in mind that our students have goals to accomplish within a certain timeframe. They need to progress as fast as possible in order to gain the proficiency they need to work, travel or in the case of children to prepare for and take tests. Time is a tricky thing to manage in the classroom. Should I go faster or slow down? What do I do if the level my student is currently in is too challenging? Many more questions like these come up regularly. Well, time can be our friend or foe. We need to learn how to manage it. Read on for some great tips on how to master the art of managing time.

Try These 5 Tips on How to Master the Art of Managing Time

  1. 1

    Analyze Time and Goals

    We all work with goals, right? We don’t just ramble on and on in English in hopes that our students will “pick up” a word or two. Students are placed in a level where material will be used to accomplish certain goals in a program. Remember that there are things we need to agree on with the student ahead of time. The duration of that program and the specific language goals should be top on the list. The student might expect something entirely different from what can realistically be achieved; that’s why communication is so important.

  2. 2


    Very often when we analyze our language objectives for a lesson we consider and plan for them individually. This is fine if time is not an issue. But, what happens if it is an issue? There is an interesting solution for that: clustering. Basically, what you should do is look ahead through the whole chapter/unit you are teaching, and gather or cluster all goals that can be taught together. Make separate language goals that combine well into one larger goal. This might require rearranging the goals, but that shouldn’t be a problem if you are organized. This will definitely save time.

  3. 3

    Set Clear Goals for Each Lesson

    What exactly are you going to teach? How many goals are there for each lesson? This might seem like a funny question but very often teachers are not very clear on this. Make sure you pinpoint precisely what your objective for the lesson is and that all the activities target that goal. Teachers often add or change things as they go along, typically when they have a lot of activities in the lesson. They steer away from the objective path and getting back on track takes time.

  4. 4

    Time Frame for Each Activity

    Ok, so our goals are clear. We know what they are and how many we have. How much time should you spend on each goal? Here is another interesting question: should you spend the same amount of time on each goal? That depends on a lot of things, for example, what the goal is. You clearly won’t spend the same amount of time on everything. If you have illustrations or flashcards to teach vocabulary, you’ll probably need less time than with a grammar point. Once you are clear on goals and general time, make sure you focus on specific time needs for each individual goal or cluster of goals.

  5. 5

    Skip Unnecessary Content

    We all use material when teaching, generally a course book, and we may add other materials too if necessary. Course books are great as general guides, however, what happens quite often is that teachers follow the course flow and content to the last word. Again, if the program the course book provides is exactly what your student needs, and you have the time, great. If time is pressing, you might want to skip all unnecessary content and just focus on the goals your students need.

As ESL teachers, we need to learn to manage a lot of things, time is just one of them.

It is important to remember not to make rash decisions. If you start falling behind, take a minute to analyze why. Also, discuss the different options with students to see what they would prefer, then give them your professional opinion. Remember Benjamin Franklin’s words, “Lost time is never found again”!

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