Tips on some general considerations for ESL lesson planning

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As a trainee or novice ESL teacher, you will now be in the habit of preparing lesson plans for your lessons.

Generally speaking, once you have prepared your notes on the subject you are going to teach; have decided on what teaching aids you are going to use, and have ensured that you have some lesson fillers – you will be ready to teach your ESL class; however, there are also some general considerations that you should always bear in mind when preparing your lesson plans. Here are some tips on three of the more important ones. You should always carefully consider the CEFR level (visit CEFR) of the class for which you are preparing lesson plans: sometimes there is a tendency for trainee and novice ESL teachers to be over-ambitious. Just because your class is progressing well, you should not assume that they will necessarily be able to cope with more advanced work. Avoid ‘quantum leaps’ – especially in grammar and syntax.

Trying to encourage the class after their dismal performance may be more intractable than you might imagine: in the worst case, you could be ‘summoned’ by the director of studies. Age is another serious consideration that some trainee and novice ESL teachers seem to ignore: especially when teaching adult ESL students. Admittedly, no teacher is going to treat a class of adult students as if they were minors: but it’s not just the teacher’s attitude that is important – your lesson plans will have to reflect a teaching style that is suitable for teaching adult students.

More often than not, the novice ESL teacher will use the same teaching style for both adults and minors: this is completely unacceptable. For example, adult learners tend to be more results-oriented, and they are reluctant to learn anything that doesn’t have an immediate practical application; consequently, ESL teachers will have to adapt their lesson plans if they are to succeed with adult students. Stimulation is always necessary when teaching students: even adult students.

When writing out your lesson plans, critically ask yourself how you can make the ESL lessons stimulating: don’t just write out the lesson plans and hope that the lesson will become stimulating merely because of the subject matter. Try to think about what equipment or teaching tools you can use, for example: use flashcards for vocabulary work; use attractively designed worksheets for grammar exercises and use videos for promoting aural and oral skills. If you can stimulate your ESL students to learn, lessons will be more enjoyable, progress will be more rapid, and you will experience less disruptive behaviour. These three factors should always receive serious consideration: irrespective of the subject matter of your lesson plans.

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