Any novice teacher would know that having English lesson plans for beginners, intermediate, and/or advanced students can be a saving grace. Even professional teachers who’ve been teaching ESL for a while will know that while you can teach without a lesson plan, having a plan makes your life so much easier.

Having a lesson plan ready means you don’t have to fumble if anything comes up unexpectedly: how to teach comparisons or the tag question, the meaning of a vocab word or two, how to teach grammar so your students will understand, or what to do for an activity to keep your students busy.

Here are the top 5 tips for creating English lesson plans for beginner students. We’ll even throw in a few tips for ESL lesson plans for kids for free. Let’s get started!

#1 Start with a Warm Up Activity

It is important to start your lessons with a warm up activity as this helps your students get into speaking and thinking in English. You can easily review material from the past couple of lessons or think of an easy activity related to the lesson.

For example, give your students the theme. Hand out pre-prepared papers with the letters A-Z and a space next to each letter. Have the students work in groups of 2-4. They need to fill out as many words as they can related to the theme that starts with each letter of the alphabet. You can decide on a reward for the winning team.

For an ESL lesson plan for kids that you want to do this kind of activity, instead of them writing the words, they can say it out loud.

#2 Use the ESL Lesson Planning Basic Structure

Depending on where you teach, your school might have its own curriculum and basic structure of lesson plans that you need to follow. While there isn’t always a lot of wriggle room, you may be able to add in or change something to make your lessons better.

Furthermore, some lessons may even require you to move parts around, so you start with a practice or review to see what your students know, then teach and/or review, and practice again. Do what works best for your students and what you are teaching.

The basic structure of ESL lesson plans is (the timing indicated is for a 45- to 60- minute lesson):

  1. Warm up – This is an intro to your lesson and comprises a warm up activity (±5 mins)
  2. Presentation – This is the input session or teaching part (5-10 mins)
  3. Practice – (also referred to as controlled practice) Students practice the target language and practice is guided by the teacher (±10 mins)
  4. Production – (also referred to as “freer” practice) Students need to produce the target language in more student-centered activities; the teacher monitors and provides immediate, individual feedback where necessary (10-15 mins)
  5. Review – Review the main aspects of the lesson, such as the target vocabulary, and give more general feedback on Production. You can draw the students’ attention to repeated mistakes you heard and also praise them on tasks well performed (±5 mins)

#3 Establish Your Lesson Objectives & Plan Accordingly

Identify 1-3 lesson objectives. With this we mean, what do you hope your students will get out of the lesson? Your objectives may be to increase their vocab or to understand and successfully use a new tense.

Once you’ve identified the goals of your English lesson plans for beginners, you can decide on which systems and skills will best help you achieve your goals and then also choose the best activities and games to help your students practice what they’ve learned. For example, if you are teaching new vocabulary terms, you may decide on a combination of speaking and writing skills with two writing activities and one speaking activity to make your lesson a success.

Remember, this becomes easier over time the more you teach ESL and the more you get to know your students.

#4 Create Your Own Material

Even if you have a set curriculum to teach and can’t deviate too much from it, you can still create your own material to supplement your lesson. For vocab lessons, you can create visual cards of the words (image on one side and word at the back) – and these can even be photocopied and used for various kinds of games, especially if you are teaching kids. You can also find actual objects to take into class and use realia to teach.

You can supplement your English lesson plans for beginners with extra ESL activities and worksheets; sometimes your whole class will finish an activity or game before the time is up or you’ll have some students who just work faster than everyone else. It is a good idea to have extra worksheets or activities planned for these students to complete so they don’t distract and disrupt the whole class.

#5 Have a Back-Up Plan

A back-up plan is a must for any lesson. For example, your lesson may not go to plan if you rely on technology to teach and there’s a power outage or the tech malfunctions. What if the students are bored with your activities or are just “difficult” to teach today?

In the first example, it is good to have non-tech materials on hand to continue your lesson, and if you can’t, have another lesson ready to teach. In the second example with the students being bored with your activities, or maybe your planned activities are too complicated(?), then you need to try other activities. Experienced teachers will have a whole list of activities they can implement in their classes at the drop of a hat, so any new ESL teachers will need to plan for these eventualities.

What other tips do you have for English lesson plans for beginners and ESL lesson plans for kids? Please let us know in the comments section below.

About the Author

Denine W is a freelance EFL teacher, writer, and editor/proofreader. She taught EFL to young learners (from kindergarten to high school students) in Taiwan and to adults and young learners in an online EFL environment. In whatever free time is left, she likes to read, plan her next trip abroad, scrapbook, and do online grammar quizzes.

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