5 Strategies to Make the Most of Your TESOL Lesson Plan

TESOL lesson plan tips for successWhen you’re starting out as a language teacher, one of the biggest problems you’ll have is being nervous about the lessons you deliver. Adequate preparation is the one true solution to overcoming nerves. Preparation means one thing: effective lesson planning. Here are five strategies that will help you plan and deliver successful ESL lessons.

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  1. Write a script for the tricky parts

If you’re introducing a grammar point that you yourself find difficult to explain, write down everything you think you need to say about it. Obviously, this will take much more time than putting it down in note form, but it will be worth it because of the extra confidence it brings you. As time goes by and you become more experienced, you’ll almost certainly find you need to do this less and less.

  1. Plan more than you need

When you write down your TESOL lesson plan, you’ll probably include a timeline that gives you a rough idea of how long each activity will take and where you should be at each point in a lesson. This is a great strategy and one that will help you greatly as your career progresses and you get used to planning classes more quickly. Nevertheless, I’d suggest having more activities than you need, or allowing slightly less time for each activity than you think is necessary.  It’s better to have too much to do, rather than finishing early and everyone in the class looking awkward and feeling uncomfortable. You can always move on to unfinished or uncovered activities in the following lesson.

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  1. Allow for flexibility

So, you have your timeline in place and you’re feeling confident. Remember though, this is merely a good reference point and not something that is set in stone. Although it’s good to stick to a lesson plan as and when you can, try not to cut an activity off if it’s working really well, or just because time is up on your timeline. If, for instance, a speaking activity is generating a lot of discussion, allow it to run its natural course. When you see this happening, look at your plan and ask yourself if there is an activity that you can cut out. It’s always better to overrun with an activity that the learners are enjoying and are engaged in.

  1. Make it so easy to understand that another person could teach your lesson

We are humans living in the real world just like everyone else. This means that sometimes things happen which result in us not being able to teach the lesson that we have planned. If and when this occurs, the question you must answer is this: ‘Could someone else teach this lesson?’ Write your TESOL lesson plan in enough detail that another person can pick it up and teach without any problems. The chances are you’ll be able to teach this lesson again in the future; if your lesson plan is easy to understand, you can pick it up again several months later and use it without having to jog your memory.

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  1. Have a ready-made backup lesson

Any number of disasters are just waiting to happen and completely ruin what you have planned. Sometimes tests get moved to a different day, on occasions you’ll have a power cut, maybe only half your class shows up, or perhaps you accidentally left your photocopies at home. One way to get around this is to have a series of ready to go emergency lessons that work at a variety level of levels and with different types of learners. As you progress in your teaching career, look for opportunities to teach these kinds of lessons and keep them close by for situations where you need a plan that you know will work.

Remember: You’re already doing most of the hard work by being a committed lesson planner, but keeping these points in mind will definitely increase your effectiveness and confidence.

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