A lesson without a plan is a recipe for disaster. Even if you are working for a company that purely offers conversational English lessons, it’s important to have devised a plan to follow throughout the lesson. Although this may not be the easiest skill to develop, it certainly is beneficial. Below you’ll find our top tips for creating a winning lesson plan!
Know your students
It’s important to keep the age, culture, personality types etc of your students in mind when devising lesson plans. The same plan devised to teach kids will obviously not be appropriate to use within adult-centered lessons. It is possible to adapt certain activities and lessons to ensure that they can be used at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.
All of this is easier to do if we take our actual students into account and personalize the lesson as far as possible. Consider differences in individual learning styles and interests in specific topics and how they impact on the lesson. Some learners are auditory learners whilst others benefit more from visual learning.
Know what your plan is
If we are familiar with our plan, we can remain calm throughout the lesson and not panic about coming up with ideas for what is to follow the current activity. Lesson plans help us keep track of the timing of lessons to ensure that each activity is completed timeously and that the overall class doesn’t run over time, meaning that teachers are able to manage their time and classes effectively.
Know what the main priorities or goals are
Every lesson plan should have objectives. Teachers should be familiar with these goals before the start of each and every lesson. Knowing what your plan is and how you intend to meet the set goals, allows you to progress toward them at a steady rate from start to finish.
By having the end goal in mind we allow ourselves to strive to meet these goals even if we have to make amendments to the original plan by changing the structure, thinking on our feet and potentially swapping out an activity if the first one is not proving to be successful. Think about possible problems that creep in and be experienced by either you or your students and ensure that you have solutions planned for when they do arise.
Understand your phases and how they interconnect
Being familiar with each planned stage allows us to plan smooth-flowing lessons whereby activities link together in a natural manner and lessons are not too segmented. We recommend using the Engage, Study, Activate methodology (ESA). This ESA approach allows you to engage your students at the beginning of class, ensuring that they are warmed up and paying attention to the teaching part of your lesson.
After engaging your learners, you can move into the study phase where you would then teach the main vocabulary points to your learners, taking them through a series of activities to ensure solid pathways of understanding. The final activate phase allows students to use the language that they have learnt in a free and creative manner, communicating with a partner, group or the class as a whole.
Anticipate the time required
One of the most challenging parts of lesson planning is deciding how long each activity or phase should take. The study phase will generally take up the largest portion of your lessons as it is where your students will learn new vocabulary and English functions. Always have an additional activity planned for in case your other activities should finish faster than anticipated.
It’s better to run out of time to complete all of the activities planned than to be in the position of having no clue what to occupy your class with until the end of class. Online companies will not let you leave earlier if you finish all lesson content before the given time period of each lesson so rather be over prepared than under.
Evaluate your lesson and the outcome thereof
It’s crucial to not only evaluate the performance of your students, but also your own. When taking some time after a lesson to analyse what was achieved, we can often highlight areas where we wish to improve on in the future. Continual analysis and evaluation leads to better lessons delivered to our students and allows them to take your feedback and incorporate it into at-home practice, developing their English abilities long after the lesson has ended.
Plan a supplementary or extra activity
Ever run out of materials and activities to keep your students busy until the lesson finishes? If you’ve ever been in this predicament you’ll know what an unnerving feeling it presents. Always have a supplementary activity planned so that if one activity isn’t going down too well, you have a backup plan ready and waiting! It’s also a good idea to have an extra activity planned too- just in case your students work their way through all planned activities at rapid speed.