Making An Esl Lesson Plan For Adults

Submitted by: Richard Griffith

When you get right down to it, lesson planning is definitely the most time consuming obstacle for new ESL (English as a second language) teachers. You ve got the job. You ve got the language down pact. You might even know what you need to teach. Unfortunately you probably don t know where to begin.

That s OK. Every experienced teacher was, at one time or another, in the same boat as you.

First, let s talk about why we plan our lessons. We plan ESL lessons for a variety of reasons. Here are a few.

You can make your objective clear.

You can logically map out what you will do from the start of your lesson to the end of it.

You never get lost when teaching and can refer to your plan at any point.

You are more organized.

If written down (or saved in a text file) you have a clear record of what has been taught.

Those are just a few reasons we plan our lessons. Some would argue that having your lessons planned ahead of time can make your teaching experienced a little rigid. Some would argue that when having a lesson mapped out that the lesson becomes more teacher centered.

While these are viable and understandable concerns, it is quite difficult for a new, inexperienced teacher to give a successful lesson on a whim. However, if we plan our lessons carefully and leave them open to change and on-the-fly adjustments, we can truly have the best of both worlds.

So now that you actually know some of the ups and downs to making a lesson plan let s look at the individual pieces of a successful lesson plan structure.

When making a clear lesson plan it s definitely to your advantage to come up with the key steps that will make the bulk of your lesson. Here is a suggested structure in which you can easily follow.



1.) Warm up stage: In the warm up stage we focus on getting our students talking in English. In most cases with ESL students the students don t actually use too much English outside of the classroom. We should give them a gentle push into using English.

In my lessons I will generally make small talk with my students (such as weather, weekly activities, meals, hot topics, etc).

2.) Review: It s no secret that in order to become a proficient speaker of English you need practice (and lots of it!) We should set aside some time in our lessons to review some previously studied material. This helps reinforce what students have already studied and builds their confidence in that particular area.

Some useful things to review…

o Your previous lesson s content.

o Content from a long time ago that is somehow related to the current topic.

o Content that you have noticed your students are having difficulty with (usually grammar).

I will often ask my students for the topics they want to review. Most students are eager to tell you what they need when you ask them.

3.) Lesson Introduction: It is generally a good idea to give a creative introduction to your lesson to build your students interest level. There are many different tools and methods to a successful lesson introduction here are a few.

o Video: Show a short video related to the new topic and then discuss.

o Show an interesting picture related to your topic.

o Play a song and have your students listen for a theme (making money, love/relationships, faith, etc).

o Tell a personal story.

o Have students read an article together on the topic (shouldn t be too long nor too difficult). You might need to write the story in your own words.

4.) Bulk: This is the bulk stage of your lesson. Within this stage you will teach your students the grammar rules and vocabulary associated with your topic.

5.) Practice: It s already been established earlier that for students to become proficient in using English they will need practice. Give your students plenty of chances to practice the new content. There are a variety of activities that can be used to practice content.

o Workbooks/worksheets

o Class discussion

o Games

o Interview activities

As your students are taking part in these activities you can circulate throughout the classroom, engaging in conversation with the students using the target language. As you do so listen for common mistakes that are made with the target language.

6.) Correction: While the students were practicing you should have noticed a couple of mistakes (if not, great!) You can draw the students attention to these mistakes. However, instead of just standing up front and tell your students what was said wrong and who said it, you can let your students correct themselves.

A good way to let students fix their language problems is self correction. You can do this by writing the incorrect sentence/pattern on the board. Let students see what is wrong and fix it themselves. This practice builds confidence and helps your students become more independent and not reliant on you.

7.) Even more practice: Yup, practice more and more! Students can never really get enough practice when it comes to learning English.

8.) Review: Prior to ending the class, you should take the time to review the current content and answer any questions your students might have.

Those are eight stages that can be used to make an extremely effective ESL experience for your students. This ESL lesson plan can be fitted and customized to your needs for every individual class you might have. It s easy to tweak and adjust.

With a lesson plan structure such as this you will save yourself a tremendous amount of valuable time from the very beginning.

Good luck!

Richard Griffith

~creator of Keep Up ESL

About the Author: Richard Griffith is the creator of Keep Up ESL (

). Keep Up ESL is a collection of free flashcards, games, interactive lessons, cartoons, stories, and storybooks. When not developing his material Richard is enjoying life as an ESL teacher in China teaching both students and adults.


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