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Lesson Planning for English Language Teachers

Keys to Approaching Lesson Planning: An Introduction to Basic Lesson Design

Lesson planning is:

  • Reflecting on your class progress and needs
  • Reflecting on your teaching strengths and weaknesses
  • Analysing materials
  • Rejecting and supplementing, replacing, extending and personalising content

All this activity forms part of planning your lesson.

The things you need to think about when planning an English language lesson are:

How to create a motivation for a task:

Each task has to have a reason and your students need to know why they are doing something and feel a sense of achievement along the way. If a coursebook does not make this clear, you need to consider how you will bridge that gap. What activity or demonstration or presentation will you add to the material or how will you change it?  Perhaps you will replace it entirely with something more relevant to your learners.

Explaining the objective of the tasks and the lesson itself helps students feel motivated, orientated and situated.

Timing and pace

How will you mix settlers and stirrers? Consider how you can add time for energetic activity and time for quiet reflection. This will stop the class from dragging, and help to wake people up, as well as give people time to settle and feel comfortable. Time to settle and time to think can be quiet times in a class. Don't be afraid of silence. Important thinking and comprehension are happening!

You also need to give time for production and mental time for preparing to produce language - this could mean giving time for people to write some notes to prepare to speak.

Input, examples, and multiple representations:

What different and stimulating ways can you think of to present a topic and present new language that keeps things fresh and varied? How will you mix movement, different classroom use, or interaction patterns? How will you mix different skills - reading, listening seeing, or doing?

Modeling and checking for understanding:

Giving instructions and checking understanding of new language or the instructions you've just given are key parts of your lesson plan. Showing how to do something, or going through the first part of a task together is always a good way to lead into the task. This stage needs its time and you need to include that time in your plan.

Take time to ask yourself, how will I know my students understand what to do or how to use some new language? How will I test that understanding? What questions can I ask?

From guided practice to independent practice:

Or alternatively, we call this controlled and freer practice. Normally, we work from tasks that are carefully guided and controlled with an emphasis on accurately using the target language, to tasks that are less about accurate use of the new target language and more about fluency and trying things out.

Formal assessment or informal evaluation of the objective:

Throughout the lesson, how will I assess that students are "on task", using the target language and using it the way I want them to? How will I assess that the pace of the class is right? How will I gauge that students are comfortable with the tasks, level, and pace? How will I know that my lesson objective has been met?


Understanding what you are being asked to do when planning a lesson is covered in our module Lesson Planning, which forms part of the CELTA Preparation Course Bundle. In this module we look at what you can expect in an English teacher training course like the CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL when it comes to lesson planning and design.