Published 6th December 2020
Me: Okay, time for me to do some lesson planning for tomorrow.
Also me: *yawn*
Lesson planning is one of those unfortunate things that are a necessary evil in the English as a Foreign Language classroom. Lesson planning can be downright boring if we’re honest, but it is something that needs to be done in order to teach the best lessons we can. The bottom line, you’re stuck with lesson planning (sorry!) but it doesn’t have to be as arduous as you think.
Let’s talk about one very common lesson plan structure which can make your lesson planning as easy as, well, PPP!
Here’s the lowdown on PPP in the EFL Classroom. If you’ve even taken one look at the course content on your TEFL course, you should be familiar with PPP. PPP stands for Presentation, Practice, and Production and it is a very common lesson plan model that is used in English as a Foreign Language classrooms around the world.
Why is PPP so common in EFL classrooms?
PPP is not rocket science. Nor is it brain surgery. This is probably the reason it is so widely used in EFL classrooms.
Once you have understood the basics of a PPP lesson, it is super easy to slot your activities into the lesson plan framework, thus creating a lesson plan which you know will be logical and which will flow.
A breakdown of PPP
A PPP lesson is divided into three stages: not surprisingly, Presentation, Practice and Production.
The Presentation stage is basically the beginning of the lesson. It starts with a warmer and/or a lead-in to get the students engaged and interested in the topic (or to wake them up if your lesson is at the end of the day!). Then the teacher presents the target language of the lesson. There are a number of ways this can be done, such as presenting the language in context, eliciting the language, or telling a personal anecdote. The teacher then tells the students the rules of the particular language structure and explains the meaning, form, and pronunciation.
The second stage is the Practice stage. In this stage, the learners do activities to practice the target language, which requires total accuracy. These activities are, by their very nature, the controlled practice of the language.
The final stage is the Production stage. This is when the students do more activities, but this time they are less controlled and freer. In other words, the learners are free to use the target language in whichever way they wish in the activity set up by the teacher.
The advantages of PPP
There are many advantages to using PPP in the EFL Classroom. The obvious advantage of PPP is that it is simple and straightforward. Once you have gotten the hang of the different activities you can do in the EFL classroom, it is simply a matter of plugging them into the relevant stage and your lesson should make sense.
It also provides a structure with which to plan your lessons. As long as you are clear on your aims, it helps you to plan your lesson and imagine the different steps you need to take in order to accomplish your aims.
The disadvantages of PPP
Unfortunately, there are a few disadvantages to PPP lessons.
Firstly, it is very easy to get stuck in the PPP framework. In other words, all your lessons end up exactly the same. Of course, many of our lessons are very similar, but it’s easy to become lazy and use the exact same activities for your lessons. PPP is good like that, in that you can be confident your lessons will be effective, but you can become complacent when it comes to interest levels. As a result, your lessons can become samey.
Another disadvantage is that many teachers place too much emphasis on the Presentation stage, believing this to be the most important stage. What happens here is that the students have no opportunity to practice the language, which is actually what we want them to do.
A PPP lesson plan example
Let’s now look at an example of a traditional PPP lesson, teaching the present perfect to Intermediate learners.
Read more: An Explanation of the Present Perfect
The teacher puts up a map of the world on the board. In green, she has marked countries she has been to. In blue, she has marked countries she would like to go to. She asks the students to guess what the different colours mean.
Once they have correctly guessed, she boards a few example sentences, such as
I have been to India.
I have never been to France.
Have you been to Mexico?
She then explains – while eliciting as much as possible. The teacher then focuses on meaning, form and pronunciation.
The students then complete a grammar exercise, in which they complete a gap fill. As a second practice activity, the students must decide whether a set of sentences are grammatically correct or not.
The students finally discuss in partners which countries they have been to and which they would still like to visit. The students then change partners and repeat the conversations. The teacher gets feedback from the class and does a delayed error correction activity.
Alternatives to PPP
Of course, PPP is not the only way to structure an EFL lesson plan. There are many other frameworks that work just as well, such as ARC, TTT, and TBL. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Which one you will use in your classroom will depend on your learners, the target language, and you.
Using PPP in the EFL Classroom is a great idea for beginners. So while you are starting out as a TEFL teacher, we recommend you adopt the PPP lesson plan structure just for the simple fact that it’s logical and straightforward. When you have a bit of experience under your belt then you should definitely branch out and try your hand at a few other lesson plan structures.
But until then, go forth and Present, Practice and Produce!