Why do we plan ESL lessons?
This is a very important question as the answers to it will suggest what a lesson plan ought to contain. A few of the reasons we plan lessons could include:
i) To provide a structure to our lessons
ii) To provide a record of what has been taught
iii) To easily cross reference against any syllabus requirements of the course being taught
The second and third points are very useful to ensure we have covered all the requirements of a course as the plans, as a group, give a permanent record of what has been taught.
The first point is perhaps the most important as the plan will be an outline of how the lesson is expected to take place. Before we get to an actual plan we should first consider what we need to record on the plan.
A lesson plan should not be a script of what you are going to say and the depth of information you put on any plan will vary depending upon the group, what you are teaching and how much of the lesson material is predetermined. The lesson plan for a group of 5-year olds learning body parts will be less involved than an upper-intermediate class learning verb changes in direct to reported speech.
Let us look at some of the headings we may wish to use on our plan.
Class details: Here we would note general information such as class name, time of lesson, duration of lesson, class level, etc.
Aims and objectives: These are two important concepts that are often confused.
Student Aims describe what you expect the students to achieve by the end of the lesson, it is therefore useful to write the student aims starting with:
'By the end of the lesson the students will be able to?????.'.
Student Objectives describe how the students will demonstrate achievement of the aims.
Procedure: Here we would put the general directions that the lesson would take with outline timings and it is also very useful to have a board plan of important material that you expect to be on the board at various stages in the lesson.
The question of how much detail is fairly easy to answer.
Imagine you had to cover a lesson for a colleague who had already planned a lesson, but for some reason was not able to teach it. They give you their lesson plan. The plan should contain enough information for you to be able to deliver exactly the lesson they planned with the same expected outcomes.
As part of the lesson planning process you will also have to consider the materials, such as worksheets, props and anything needed for an activity. A note should be made on the plan of which materials you need and when. Obviously you will also need to consider how many copies of various things to make to suit the group size and activity.
As a follow up to the lesson you should make some form of evaluation of the lesson, particularly noting what went well and what didn't. Using this information you can either change your original lesson plan or annotate to remind yourself of what happened before.
Also read: Where can I get free ESL lesson plans?