Seven Simple Tips on How to Craft a Basic ESL Lesson Plan
While many who move to South Korea to teach English have some experience teaching, there are many who do not. Understandably, new teachers are nervous about writing a lesson plan. Some schools may require you to write and create your own lesson plans, and others may place you with a co-teacher who will provide the content. Either way, you’ll want to know how to make a basic lesson plan in case you get inspired to teach something different and fun. As well, most ESL teachers will have to plan their own lessons for summer and winter English camp. Although there are more details to effective teaching and lesson planning, here is the basic format to creating a basic lesson.
#1 Figure out the aim or goal of your lesson
In teaching, we call this “backwards planning.” Start from the ultimate goal that you want students to achieve. For example: “At the end of this lesson, students should be able to use basic English greetings such as: hello, nice to see you, how’s it going, etc.” Work from this point backwards; everything in your lesson should point to this goal and have a forward momentum to accomplish this it.
#2 Start your lesson with a hook
This is often called an “anticipatory set” or an ice breaker. This could be a review from a concept learned the day before (in the form of a quick little game), a fun video clip that relates to the lesson, a joke or an interactive educational strategy. Regardless of what you use for an ice-breaker, the point of this beginning activity is to loosen up the students, pique their curiosity, and get them engaged. For example, if the chapter you’re teaching in your English textbook is about inspirational people, you might show a quick clip of Nick Vujicic, a famous motivational speaker born without legs and arms defying life’s limits.
#3 Create the body of your lesson and assign times for each section
The body of the lesson is the meat of what you’ll be teaching. This is where you can weave in educational strategies that allow students to interact with the material. During this time, you might assign 5 minutes to brainstorm and then 20 minutes to write; 2 minutes to share with a partner, and 20 minutes to create a dialogue.
#4 End with an exit task
An exit task is something that the student has to do before leaving the room at the end of class. For example, they could write 2 things they learned on a slip of paper and hand it to you as they walk out. They could write a question or something they didn’t understand. Having students write a comment on a sticky note about what they are proud of learning can also be fun and positive.
#5 Be prepared to adapt and change
If there is one thing that defines a teacher’s job, it’s adapting to the surroundings on the spot. This is one thing you absolutely must learn to do as a teacher. You may have to adjust the time it takes to complete an exercise and perhaps extend an activity into a two day lesson plan, or modify the level of difficulty.
#6 Build in formative assessments
Formative assessments are informal ‘tests’ throughout the lesson; they occur on the fly and they are a great diagnostic tool to gage the room to see if students are following along, or if the concepts are too high level. An example of a formative assessment could be as simple as a ‘thumbs up’ (I understand) or ‘thumbs down’ (I don’t understand) quick survey of the room to see if students are grasping the concepts.
#7 Over-plan, don’t under-plan
Nothing is worse than getting finished with your lesson and having an energetic classroom full of kids and nothing to teach them. Plan at least a lesson ahead or a week if possible. Over plan your lesson; worse case scenario, you can carry over tasks to the next day.
#8 Reflect for next time and re-teach
Although this may sound like overkill, it’s really helpful to jot down some notes about how the lesson went. You never know when you might teach this lesson again, and you will thank yourself for making some changes on the spot, rather than teaching it again and realizing your mistakes a second time. The name of the game with teaching is repetition, repetition, repetition. I’ve heard it referred to as “abundant and redundant.” You may feel like you’re repeating yourself to the point of insanity, but this is just normal for a teacher—students need a lot of reinforcement to commit the concepts to their long term memory.
A good lesson plan doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. Making sure that the delivery method is engaging and relatable for students is a big key in having a great lesson.
Photo Credit - Jeremy Keith: https://www.flickr.com/photos/adactio/
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