Published 12th October 2015

When you first start planning lessons as a TEFL teacher is can be a difficult and frustrating experience. Are these activities engaging? Will they understand what I’m asking them? Will they enjoy my lesson? These are all things we ask ourselves as new teachers, but that’s completely normal, it’s also normal to try something and find it doesn’t work. Remember, that doesn’t make you a bad teacher. Here are some top tips to help you on that road to planning the perfect lesson.

  1. Is this too difficult or too easy?

It sounds like a simple question, but it’s one you need to consistently ask yourself. What can seem very simple to a native speaker, can be really difficult for a low level learner. Don’t make an activity about their dream job if they haven’t learned the future tense yet. If you give them something which is too difficult, not only is the activity wasted, but you can hinder the enthusiasm of your students.

  1. Don’t make activities to broad

You might think that it’s boring for them to repeat the same thing over and over again, but repetition is needed when you are trying to learn something new in another language. Of course as the levels increase it’s OK to make the tasks a little more complex, but remember that something new is always confusing and you need to give them time to fully understand it.

  1. Always ask yourself ‘what is the purpose of this’

Everything you do in class should have a purpose. This doesn’t mean it has to be teaching something critical every time. The purpose of a warmer activity is not to teach the students anything new, but rather just to relax them and to get their brains thinking in English. Though games can be used to study a grammar point or set of vocabulary, they can also be used as a way of relaxing students after a particularly tense or difficult part of the lesson. Just be clear in your own mind what you want from the activity, and then the execution will be much easier and more enjoyable for everybody.

  1. Review, review, review

So, you choose tasks of the appropriate level, you identified the goals, made them specific but somehow the activity still fell as flat as a pancake? This is completely normal! When reviewing an activity, if you think everything was executed correctly, try it again with another class on another day. Sometimes there isn’t a reason things don’t work on any given day, welcome to the joys of teaching! However reviewing is a really helpful process to determine what you could change in your lesson plan to make sure it goes more smoothly next time.