Creating a TEFL Lesson Plan

People who aren’t teachers usually don’t think that constructing a plan from which you teach your students what they need to know is anything very difficult. After all, how bad can it be to write down a list of things you need to cover in your lesson?

And if you are a teacher on the receiving end of this sort of view then you’ll probably have a hard time stopping yourself from screeching and resort to quietly grinding your teeth as you plaster a very fake smile onto your face. 

Creating a lesson plan can be easy. Creating a good lesson plan is harder. It seems a straightforward concept, but it needs careful planning to be as robust as possible and, more importantly, contain everything that you want to cover within a realistic timeframe. It’s not that difficult to come up with a half-decent lesson plan, but this is a guide to help you plan your lessons in the very best way. 

Why do a TEFL lesson plan?

Put simply, every class needs one. If you go in there and wing it, it’s almost guaranteed that your students will realize and the whole lesson will collapse. You can include as much detail as your experience and qualifications have given you, tailor it to the type of class (1-1 for example) and take into account the time that you have to actually compose the plan.  

Having one gives you the clear aims to achieve during the lesson and a route to get your students there. Having an end goal in mind is essential, if you don’t have one then you risk your pupils going away not feeling a sense of achievement. 

What needs to be included?

There’s no hard and fast rule about what your plan should contain because it depends on a number of variables:

  • The main aim of the lesson.
  • Subsequent aims.
  • Personal aims.
  • What materials you need/have available.
  • What length of time you’re dealing with.
  • What/if any problems you foresee with the tasks, language, and have a plan in place to deal with them if they do arise.

This doesn’t necessarily all have to be down in black and white on your lesson plan, but it should definitely all be in your head because then it gets you into the habit of thinking along this path. Maybe just scribble some bullet points at the bottom of the plan to jog your mind if need be.

If you do foresee any problems, then it’s useful to have them sketched out and preferably have a matching solution to each one. Not only does this make it easier for you in the classroom, but it will give you the confidence to deal with them swiftly and effectively, rather than casting about for a solution right at the last minute. It will also help your lesson to run smoothly. 

Moving onto the different stages of the class means that you need to have: the individual stage aims, activities, timing, and focus. Plus, clarity in your mind about how the lesson is structured. 

The Lead-in.

This is something to include at the beginning of the lesson to get students warmed up to your lesson theme and thinking about the upcoming content. It’s always good to have a few minutes of this mapped out because if they’re jumping from lesson to lesson it’s bound to take them a little while to focus on the subject matter.

A visual introduction with pictures and/or video gets them thinking about what they already know and opens their minds to learn more. An effective lead-in inspires a mental image which then makes their access to the subject content easier.

Language target.

This is something that should be comprehensively introduced at the beginning of the lesson because the students are going to need and understand it in order to achieve the aims of the lesson. There are two elements to teaching a language:

  1. The controlled/restricted practice. This is used to keep an eye on pronunciation, students typically focus entirely on one sentence that incorporates the target language. This is to embed the understanding of sentence structure and to expand vocabulary gently. As a teacher, you will be working closely with the students at this point. 
  2. Free/fluency practice. This next bit is exactly as it sounds – following on from the controlled practice, the students then have an opportunity to speak the target language in a much freer way and get used to handling it on their own within the classroom so they can ask questions/practice something specific with you as a teacher while they do it. This section is one without pressure and gives them the chance to practice. Some may naturally use the language and some may not. Pupils usually enjoy this aspect the most and therefore will learn more, so maximizing their time with the fluency element is a good idea, as long as it doesn’t compromise the beginning bit of the lesson, which still remains essential – if more unpopular!

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