Effective Lesson Planning For English Language CLassrooms

Effective Lesson Planning

Contents


An effective lesson plan refers to the roadmap the teacher adopts to make his lesson successful in producing the desired results. The process of designing a lesson plan starts with identifying the needs of the students, determining the objectives or standards the students need to attain, and selecting the approach and methods that best suit the learning situation. Most lesson plans consist of several components. These include the class profile, the targeted objectives, the procedure (which includes stages), the mode of work, the timing of each activity, and a reflective section.


Introduction To Effective Lesson Planning

This article is an introduction to how lesson planning should be designed. First, we will try to define what a lesson plan is. Then, the rationale behind the process of lesson planning is discussed. A case is made for developing a coherent approach to learning and teaching. Teachers at this stage are invited to think of their personal theory of how the teaching and learning processes take place. This should normally be applied to the way they design lesson plans. A list of the components of lesson plans is presented before we turn at the end of the article, to the merits of lesson planning for teachers as well as for learners

Concept Defining

Before listing the components of lesson plans, let us define some essential terms.

What is an effective lesson plan?

Let us start by defining some concepts.

  • Effective
  • Lesson
  • Plan
  • Lesson planning

 What Does Effective Mean?

According to a dictionary definition, if something is effective it is:

“Successful in producing a desired or intended result.”

For example, an effective medicine is successful in healing from an illness. It has the desired effect or produces the wanted result. Similarly, an effective plan has the effect of reaching the objectives we desire.

What Is A Lesson?

Here is a situation to understand what is intended by the term “lesson“:

Suppose you go out of your home, close the door and to your surprise, you realize that you forgot the keys inside.

Obviously, this experience teaches you a lesson: you should never close the door before you make sure that the keys are in your pocket, or at least you have a plan B in case you forget the keys (i.e., having a double copy of the keys somewhere.)

This is a lesson learned from experience. But we can also learn by studying. Books, the internet, and myriads of other sources of information can teach you lessons.

Accordingly, a lesson can be defined as:

“Something learned by study or experience.” Merriam Webster Dictionary.

What Is A Lesson In The Language Teaching Context?

According to Brown (2001, p.149), a lesson is:

“a unified set of activities that cover a period of classroom time… These classroom time units are administratively significant for teachers because they represent “steps” along a curriculum before which and after which you have a hiatus (of a day or more) in which to evaluate.”

Lessons And The Curriculum

As the above quote states, a lesson is a coherent whole of well-selected activities that cover a period of classroom time, generally50-55 minutes. These lessons have an administrative implication because they are part of the curriculum design. They should abide by a well-defined syllabus.

Note: Some approaches like the Critical Theory and the Dogme Approach minimize the importance of a syllabus designed by higher authorities and advocate, by contrast, a syllabus that is co-built by both the teacher and the needs of the learners.

What Is A Plan?

According to some dictionary definitions, the term plan means:

  • a method for achieving an end.
  • a detailed formulation of a program of action.
  • an orderly arrangement of parts of an overall design or objective.

All the above definitions emphasize the idea that a plan refers to a strategy, a method, a program, or an arrangement, the aim of which is to reach an outcome.

Having a plan necessitates determining both the point of departure and the point of destination and the decision taken to reach the objectives.

What is effective lesson planning?

According to Jeremy Harmer (2001, p.308):

“Lesson planning is the art of combining a number of different elements into a coherent whole so that a lesson has an identity.”

In other words, lesson planning is the process of selecting and organizing a coherent set of activities that cover a period of classroom time. Each lesson has an identity. If one has a look at different lesson plans, one can be sure that these lesson plans cover specific points of the syllabus or that they are designed for specific types of learners.

Effective lesson plans require the teacher not only to set learning and teaching routines but also to visualize the lesson before it is actually delivered.

Effective Lesson Plans As A Sequence Of Routines

Lesson plans can be also viewed as a set of classroom routines. According to Yinger (1980), lesson planning can be described as:

“decision-making about the selection, the organization, and the sequencing of routines”.

Research suggests that expert teachers use routines to make parts of their teaching more automatic. This automaticity helps these teachers free their working memory for other more difficult parts of their teaching process.

Visualizing The Lesson For Effective Teaching

According to Scott Thornbury, there is a long legacy of visualization in athletics as a means of performance preparation. In this regard, the story of Marilyn King, a pentathlon athlete who, after a crippling accident, ‘visualized’ herself back into Olympic-standard performance, is frequently mentioned.

Successful athletes run the race in their minds several times before they actually run it in real life. They use a technique called mental rehearsal to run through their performance, over and over again.

Like these successful athletes, teachers may benefit from delivering the lesson over and over in their heads before coming to the classroom. This will have the positive double effects of:

  • Anticipating the potential problems that they may encounter while delivering the lesson;
  • And deciding on the best options to address these problems before they actually occur.

Accordingly, lesson planning can be viewed as the ability of the teacher to visualize and forecast how the lesson delivery will take place. It is the cognitive process of thinking about what will happen in the classroom when delivering the lesson, making decisions about what, why, and how the teaching-learning process will occur.

Pre-Planning

Lesson planning involves taking the most appropriate decisions about what, why, and how the teaching process will take place.

WhatWhyHow
Syllabus, content, activities, materials, exam requirements…Rationale, approach, objectives…Methods, philosophy, theory, Procedures, techniques…

Lesson Planning (What, Why, How)

Before starting to design a plan, teachers must make sure that they have the right knowledge about both the students, the subject matter, and how the knowledge will best be imparted to these students.

What Knowledge Should We Have Before Starting Designing A Lesson Plan?

Knowledge of the studentsKnowledge of the syllabus
Level of proficiency, learning styles, age, gender…The content and organization of the syllabus. (What type of syllabus it is? Structural, notional/functional, situational…)
Exam requirements

This knowledge will help us make decisions about the content and the activities that we should prepare to teach the language system and skills (see below).

What do language teachers teach?

Language teachers are required to teach both

  1. The language system: the grammar and lexis
  2. And the language skills: the receptive skills (i.e., listening and reading), the productive skills (i.e., speaking and writing).
What do language teachers teach?

What do language teachers teach?

Here are some important remarks about the above categorization:

  • There are differences in the way we teach the above different aspects of the language. Teaching grammar differs from teaching writing for example.
  • Some native speakers may have internalized all the aspects of the language system, yet they may be unskilled in writing or reading, or they may even be illiterate altogether.

As teachers, we are required to teach both the system and the skills.

Philosophy Of Teaching And Learning

Before you start designing plans, as a teacher you must have your own philosophy of teaching and learning.

Note: If you want to read more about the philosophy of education, read this article: Philosophy Of Education For Teachers

So, what’s your personal philosophy of learning?

Learning takes place in a certain sequence:

  1. First, the learners do not know or they know little of what you want to teach. This is the phase where they are ignorant or partially ignorant.
  2. Then the teacher exposes the new knowledge (generally through listening or reading.) At this stage, the learners notice that there is a feature they do not understand. This is a stage when their awareness is raised and their attention is drawn to the new information.
  3. Once they notice the gap between what they know and what they do not know, they start working on reducing this gap by making hypotheses and experimenting with them. At this stage of the learning process, the learners are trying to understand – to make sense of the new feature of the target language, most probably with the guidance of the teacher.
  4. Once the learners understand the new feature, they try to use it (probably with some errors popping out). This is the stage when learners practice the target language to make its use more automatic.
  5. When they have practiced the target language enough, learners integrate the item into their interlanguage system and use it, hopefully with relatively minor errors. This is the stage of active use.

The steps in the above sequence are adopted by teachers with some fundamental changes according to their philosophy of learning and teaching.

Three philosophies of learning simplified

Teachers may adopt one of three methods of teaching that underlie important theoretical principles. As a teacher, you should take a stance. How do you think people learn a language?

  1. Do you think people learn better because language is clarified and explained by the teacher? (Things explained)
  2. Do you think that learning occurs because the teacher draws learners’ attention to specific items and guides them to discover how they are formed and used? (Things discovered)
  3. Do you think that learning occurs spontaneously when learners are exposed to authentic language? Things (unconsciously) acquired

Learning By Experience Or By Being Told

There are three different approaches to learning: either by being told, by experience, or by being guided to discover things by ourselves.

Note: Read about the difference between approach, method, procedure, and technique.

To illustrate these three ways, let’s take the metaphor of the electric fence.

Electric fence

Electric fence

Finding for yourself

The fastest way to learn about electric fences is to deliberately touch the wires and get an electric shock. This teaches you that electricity gives you an unpleasant jolt and that wires that tick should be avoided.

Being told

Another way of learning that electric fences hurt if you touch them is simply by having a person who knows everything about electric fences explain to you what electricity is and how a high voltage of electricity may hurt you if you touch it and that people build electric fences to keep animals inside a farm or to deter and protect against trespassers and predators.

Being guided to discover by yourself

You can also be guided by an experienced person who knows about electric fences. That person might lead you to discover that electric fences hurt without having to experience the unpleasant electric shock. That person might lead you to this knowledge by guiding you step by step. He/she might ask you to put your ear close to the fence to hear the buzzing of electricity. Then, he/she might ask you to throw a piece of metal on the fence to see what happens.

The above three ways of learning can be transferred to the language classroom. Teaching the aspect of the language system can be done by one of the following ways:

  1. Teachers may either design lessons in which learners are given tasks to perform with their limited linguistic resources. Once done, the teacher may give feedback and devise accuracy-based activities. (Task-Based Instruction)
  2. Teachers may also resort to just presenting and explaining the lesson and asking the students to practice the target language item. The objective is that they will hopefully be able to produce that language item without making any mistakes. (Present-Practice-Produce)
  3. Finally, teachers may also start by establishing what the learners already think and know. Then the teacher provides guiding questions to promote learning by helping students to notice where their own thinking is incomplete or inconsistent. (Discovery Learning)

Irrespective of the method you choose, there are two main principles that should guide you in your teaching:

  • The role of the teacher is to provide the time and space for students to interact with some contextualized target language and to be able to step back and let this happen.
  • What we teach is not always what we expect learners to learn. Learning does not equal absorbing what was taught but activelysolving problems by seeking answers.

Principled Lessons

Lessons must reflect sound principles of language teaching and learning. Before starting to design your lesson plan, as a teacher, you should take a stance.

How do you think learners will better be able to learn? By being told? By granting them the full responsibility to learn by themselves? Or by creating learning opportunities and guiding the students to experience and discover things by themselves?

How are you going to teach?

It is a conscious decision that a teacher has to take. Are we going to:

  1. Simply present the target language and then invite the students to practice and produce?
  2. Provide opportunities for students to discover the target language, appropriate it through well-devised controlled activities, and use it in appropriate situations?
  3. Or ask the SS to do a task from the start and subsequently go through some language focus and a follow-up task?

The method you choose will affect the way you design your lesson. The selection and organization of the lesson activities are dictated by the approach you adhere to.

Note: Although Jerome Bruner is credited with coining the term “discovery learning” in the 1960s, his concepts are remarkably similar to those of John Dewey, Vygotsky, and others. According to Bruner, practicing discovering things for oneself helps learners to acquire information in such a way that renders it more readily applicable in problem-solving.

Lesson Planning And The Textbook

Textbooks are used extensively for teaching and learning. They are sometimes used blindly as a teaching tool. After all, it is available, practical, and contains all the content we want to teach. This makes it the only resource some teachers use to prepare their lesson plans.

But should the textbook be the only resource to use when planning a lesson? Which is more important: to teach the textbook? Or to help your students progress in their learning?

The textbook is undeniably practical and available, but this does not make it is an indispensable resource. Since it is our job as teachers to understand the needs of our students, we are required to see whether the content and activities in a textbook fit their interests. Learning has to be grounded in the needs and experiences of the learners. Relying on a single textbook not only may hamper learning but may also not serve the emotional, social, and cognitive needs of the learners.

Teachers must make important pedagogical decisions that are tailored to the abilities and needs of various students. They must be creative and imaginative in order to adjust the content of the textbook or create innovative learning opportunities that are appropriate for the learner. Most of all, the teacher should be a reflective professional who knows how to reconcile theory and practice.

Teachers must go beyond the textbook in different ways:

  • Adapting the content.
  • Removing unsuitable content
  • Reordering content.
  • Supplying new content.

The aim of the teacher is to diversify the learning opportunities by intervening to adapt the textbook to the learning and teaching situations.

Instead of just teaching the textbook, the teachers must intervene to supplement, remove, adapt, etc.

 Planning

After identifying the needs of our students and making decisions about the approach, method, and content, it is time to start the process of planning.

When planning you have to make decisions about the components you have to include and the procedure you want to implement in the design of your lesson plan.

Components Of A Lesson Plan

Here are some of the most important parts of a lesson plan:

  1. Date, class, type of lesson, title, duration & materials
  2. Objectives
  3. Activities
  4. Procedure
  5. Mode of work
  6. Timing
  7. Extra-class work
  8. Potential problems
  9. Reflection

In what follows, the focus is on the objectives of the lesson, the activities, the procedure, the mode of work, the timing, and the teacher’s reflection on the lesson delivery.

The Learning Objectives

Teachers have to determine the learning objectives of each lesson because without clearly set objectives failure is inevitable:

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” —Bill Copeland

What is a learning objective?

A learning objective is a statement that describes the behavior that the teacher wants the students to show as a result of instruction and that can be used to assess the session’s success.

In other words, learning objectives refers to what students should know or be able to do by the end of the lesson that they weren’t able to do previously.

Formulating clear learning objectives when planning a lesson fulfills three main functions:

  1. Learning objectives give learners a clear picture of what they can expect to learn and what is expected of them by the end of the lesson.
  2. They also provide the teacher with a goal to achieve during the lesson delivery.
  3. They serve as the foundation for assessing the effectiveness of the teaching, the learning, and the lesson effectiveness.
What Is Your Destination?

Once we know the point of departure and the point of destination, decisions are easy to make about how to reach the objectives. Otherwise, we will get lost in a maze, unable to reach any goals. Both the teacher and the learners may go astray without clear objectives.

With the destination in mind, the journey has a purpose and the right decisions are made along the planning process.

Smart Objectives

Lesson’s objectives have to be SMART:

  • S – Specific – Specifies precisely what the learner will know or be able to do.
  • M – Measurable – The desired behavior can be observed by the end of the lesson.
  • A – Attainable – Learners will be able to complete the task within the allotted time and under the given conditions.
  • R – Relevant – Relevant to the learners’ needs.
  • T – Time-bound – Must be completed by the end of the lesson.
SMART Objectives

SMART Objectives

Example of Objectives

Task: Which of the examples below are SMART Objectives?

  1. By the end of the session, learners will be able to distinguish between the simple present and present continuous forms and use them appropriately to describe daily routines, on the one hand, and actions that take place at the moment of speaking on the other hand.
  2. The teacher presents the present perfect using a context.
  3. By the end of the session, learners will be better able to form and use the simple present in the affirmative to describe daily routines.
  4. During the lesson, learners will be asked to come up with examples with the simple present.
  5. By the end of the session, learners will be able to use prepositions of place appropriately to describe objects in a kitchen.
  6. To teach the reported speech.

Clearly, 1–3–5 are SMART objectives. They are all specific in the sense that they aim at teaching well-identified language points. They are measurable since we can gauge to what extent the learners learned the target language. They are attainable because they are within the students’ Proximal Zone of Development. They are also relevant and time-bound because they fulfill students’ needs and can be achieved by the end of the lesson.

Activities

The choice of the language teaching activities is determined by several factors:

  • Students’ age, gender, and needs.
  • The Stage of the lesson.
  • The resources and materials that are available.

As a rule of thumb, the language teaching activities should be sequenced from easy to difficult taking into consideration the age of the students, their level of proficiency, and their interests.

Examples Of Activities

Sequencing activities is essential. Some activities try to mobilize learners’ low-order thinking while others necessitate more thoughtful decisions.

Here are examples of activities:

  1. Matching
  2. Gap filling
  3. Chart completion
  4. Sentence completion
  5. Answering comprehension questions
  6. Sequencing events
  7. Reading and identifying the verbs in the past simple
  8. Making a hotel reservation
  9. Closing a deal on the phone
  10. Summarizing a text
  11. Designing a graph/poster

The activities 8-11 differ from the preceding ones. They focus on the use of authentic language to complete meaningful tasks in the target language. These can be assigned at the production stage when the focus is more on fluency.

Procedures

Lessons have an opening, a middle, and a closing.

Richards and Lockhart suggest:

“Like other speech events, however, lessons have a recognizable structure. They begin in a particular way, they proceed through a series of teaching and learning activities, and they reach a conclusion.” Richards & Lockhart (1994. P. 114)

Lessons include:

  • An opening that includes:
    • a warm-up: a motivating activity that puts the students in the mood of learning (e.g., a tongue twister, chanting, etc)
    • a lead-in – a short activity that prepares the learners to the topic of the lesson by relating the learners’ prior knowledge with the new one.
  • The lesson:
    • A presentation stage: when the new knowledge is presented either through explanation or guided discovery.
    • A practice stage where the learners are invited to appropriate the new knowledge.
    • A production stage in which learners use the target language in suitable situations.
  • A closing stage includes a follow-up activity that aims at reviewing, summarizing, or expanding the newly learned knowledge.

This procedure is typical of most types of lessons. It is very much similar to the ECRIF Framework which is related to the teachers’ perceptions of what is going on in their classrooms. First, learners encounter new information. Then, they try to clarify it. After that comes the phase when they have to remember and internalize this knowledge. The final phase consists of the learners’ attempts to fluently use the new knowledge.

ECRIF Framework

ECRIF Framework

Language Teaching Procedures

The following are suggested procedures to teach the aspects of the language system as well as the language skills.

Procedures that teach the different aspects of the language system (e.g., grammar and lexis):

PPP procedure
  • Present
  • Practice
  • Produce
Discovery Learning procedure
  • Noticing
  • Guided discovery (observing/noticing hypothesizing, experimenting)
  • Skill getting
  • Skill using
Task-based procedure
  • Pre-task (assigning and preparing learners for the task)
  • Task (learners perform the task)
  • Post task (working on gaps)

Procedures that teach the different language skills:

Receptive skills procedure
  • Pre-reading/listening
  • While-reading/listening
  • Post-reading/listening
Productive skills procedure
  • Model text
  • Studying the text
  • Practicing the language needed to perform the productive task
  • Task setting
  • Planning and production
    • Structuring the output for the speaking skill.
    • Going through the steps of process writing (planning, drafting, revising, and editing.)
  • Feedback

Procedure & Activities:  Key Principles

The selection and organization of both the lesson procedures and the activities should be in line with some Key principles: The KISS and EEE principles:

KISS principle

The teaching and learning activities and the procedures followed in the lesson delivery should avoid complexity:

KISS (Keep It Short and Simple)

KISS (Keep It Short and Simple)

One of the most important principles of effective teaching is to Keep It Short and Simple. It is important to manage your teaching as simply as possible. Simplifying teaching doesn’t mean discarding quality teaching. It means caring for what is essential.

So that a lesson can follow the above KISS principle, teachers may use the following tips.

Teachers should:

  • Avoid long explanations.
  • Avoid providing too many details.
  • Avoid talking too much about exceptions.
  • Sequence activities from easy to more challenging.
  • Target the essential elements.
  • Vary the activities – variety is the spice of life.
  • Opt for guided discovery.
  • Optimize exercise items – an exercise with 20 items may be time and effort-consuming without necessarily being effective.
The Three Es (Ease Economy, Efficiency InTeaching)
Ease, Economy, Efficiency In Teaching

Ease, Economy, And Efficiency In Teaching

The activities and the procedure should be efficient in the sense that they should be successful in reaching the desired objectives. They have also to be easy to teach and economize energy and time.

Mode Of Work

There are three modes of work that can generate a number of interaction patterns in the classroom.

  1. Individual
  2. Pair work
  3. Group work
Interactions According To The Different Modes Of Work

If we take the participants in classroom interactions (i.e., students and teachers) into consideration, we may deduce that there are three possible types of classroom interactions:

  • Teacher – Student
  • Student – Teacher
  • Student – Student

It can be argued that the more the initiative comes from the students, the more the teaching-learning process is learner-centered.

When the focus is on learning, learners are free to ask and answer questions, make decisions about their learning, participate in discussions, initiate conversations, access resources, and be responsible for their progress.

Note: It is this aspect of learning that makes social constructivism so attractive. This approach states that people work together to construct knowledge. By working together and taking the initiative, the learners are more motivated and create learning oportunities that maximize learning.

Interaction Patterns

The following are types of interaction patterns in the classroom:

  1. Closed-ended teacher questioning (T – Ss):
    The teacher asks a question that requires one correct answer.
  2. Open-ended teacher questioning (T – Ss):
    The teacher asks a question that requires many possible correct answers.
  3. Choral responses. (T – Ss):
    This refers to choral answers that require all students to respond verbally to the teacher’s cue.
  4. Teacher talk (T – Ss):
    This occurs for example when the teacher is giving a lecture. This might also include a quiet student response, such as writing from dictation, but there is no effort on the student’s behalf.
  5. Individual work. (S):
    The teacher assigns a task to the learners, who work independently while the teacher monitors and assists as needed.
  6. Pair work (S – S):
    This involves learners working together in pairs at the same time.
  7. Group work (Ss – Ss):
    Students engage in small groups on tasks that require communication, such as sharing information or making group decisions. The teacher observes and listens, but rarely intervenes.
  8. Collaboration (S – S or Ss – Ss):
    This is not the same as “group work,” which requires interaction as part of the activity. In collaborative work, the learners complete the same tasks as in “individual work,” but they collaborate to produce the best outcomes possible.
  9. The student initiates, the teacher answers (S – T):
    The student takes the initiative to ask/talk. The teacher answers the student’s questions, providing clarifications or responding to the student’s concerns.
  10. Full-class interaction (Ss – Ss):
    The students discuss a topic or do an exercise as a class; the teacher may intervene to encourage participation or supervise the class.
  11. Self-access (Ss – Ss):
    Students decide on their own learning activities and work independently.
 Learners-Centeredness: Us OR Them?
Learner-centredness

Learner-centredness

One may argue that learner-centeredness is maximized when the interaction is initiated by the learner. The more learners take the initiative, the more they become autonomous.

This moves the emphasis of instruction away from the teacher and toward the learner. By placing responsibility for the learning in the hands of students, the teacher attempts to foster learner autonomy and independence.

Timing

Each activity in the lesson plan should be given a time estimate. Yes, it is difficult to anticipate how long any particular task will take. However, it is still a good idea to schedule an estimated time for activities and even include the timing into your lesson plan.

When planning lessons, timing is crucial to ensure that the activities you’re using fit within the time allotted and that you stay on track.

Assuming your class is 55 minutes long, you will need to have a set of coherent activities to fill that time without being boring.

Here is an example of how the different phases of the lesson can be timed:

  1. Warm-up (about 2 minutes):
    Warmers or warm-ups are not necessarily linked to the topic of the lesson. They are mainly used to put the learners in the mood of learning – to draw their attention and make them motivated and more interested in learning English. Examples of warm-up activities include tongue twisters, command drills, chanting, etc.
  2. Lead-in (about 3 minutes):
    The lead-in actually introduces the topic of the lesson. It is used to activate the learners’ schematic knowledge – the student’s prior knowledge of or experience with the topic.
  3. Presentation/exposure (about 10 minutes):
    This stage involves presenting the target language in appropriate contexts and either clarification or guided discovery.
  4. Controlled practice (about 15 minutes):
    Practice activities like matching, true or false statements, gap-filling, sentence completion are activities that help learners practice the target language. By helping students build on the concept they have learned at the presentation stage, and applying them in well-designed activities, you help your students practice, internalize and automatize their knowledge.
  5. Free production (about 20 minutes):
    After having practiced enough the target language, it is time for the learners to do something with the newly learned knowledge. This is the stage of the lesson where the teacher should be involved as little as possible. The Teaching Talking Time (TTT) is reduced to the minimum leaving the learners to interact and do open-ended tasks. Depending on the task, the learners can work in small groups, in pairs, or individually.
  6. Follow-up (about 5 minutes):
    Follow-up activities are designed to summarize what has been learned, review the essential points of the lesson, and enhance long-term memory. An example of a follow-up activity consists of inviting the students to make lists of all the words they can remember from the lesson.

As it can be seen from the suggested timings above, the presentation stage must not be allotted the largest portion of the time. Instead, the practice and production stages must be given much more importance.

Reflection

Instead of doing things the same way, reflecting on your lesson delivery allows you to improve your teaching practices and assess their efficacy.

Reflection is about positively examining the rationale of your practices and deciding if there’s a better or more effective way to do it in future lessons.

What Is Reflection In Lesson Plan?

“Written plans are not just proposals for future action but also records of what has taken place. Thus, when we are in the middle of a sequence of lessons, we look back at we have done in order to decide what to do next.” Harmer (2001, p. 320)

The reflection stage of the lesson is crucial because it allows teachers to collect, document, and evaluate everything that occurred during the session. The aim is to improve teachers’ performance and lesson delivery in the future.

Questions To Ask At The Reflection Stage Of The Lesson

  • Here are some questions to ask when reflecting on your lesson delivery:
  • Were the objectives attained?
  • Did I sequence the practice activities from easy to more challenging?
  • Was there only one type of interaction that seemed to predominate? Did the teacher activity dominate? Did I talk too much?
  • Did the students demonstrate an understanding of the TL at the production stage?
  • Did the presentation stage take too much time?
  • Did I vary the modes of work?
  • Did I vary the type of activities?
  • Did the SS practice enough to automatize the TL?

Merits Of Lesson Plans

Why is effective lesson planning important for teachers? Why are lesson plans crucial in the teacher’s professional development? Why are they important in the teaching-learning process? How do learners benefit from well-structured lesson plans?

Advantages Of Lesson Plans For Teachers?

For the teacher, lesson plans:

  • Provide direction and serve as a guide & reference.
  • Guarantee success by predicting possible problems & considering solutions.
  • Promote teachers’ confidence & reduce uncertainty.
  • Help teachers to reflect on, evaluate & improve their teaching.
  • Help teachers to avoid thinking on their feet and not to lose face.
  • Establish classroom routines and thus allow teachers to save time and effort.
  • Economize cost in terms of time and effort.
  • Foster professional development and creativity

Advantages Of Lesson Plans For Learners?

For the learner, lesson plans:

  • Provide learners with a well-structured lesson that is easier to follow and assimilate.
  • Help learners to focus on the learning objective(s).
  • Ensure that learners get a balanced combination of different materials, content, and interaction types.
  • Make learners more respectful towards their teachers because of the effort deployed by the teacher to cater to their needs.
  • Minimize classroom misbehavior and disruptions because well-structured lesson plans are more interesting to follow.
  • Cater for different learning styles since teachers are more careful in the selection, organization, and assignment of activities.

Flexibility

A plan reflects teachers’ professionalism. It minimizes unpredictability but it does not guarantee that everything will occur as planned. Lesson plans are thus just proposals – lesson projects – that may evoke our student’s reactions. As professionals, we have to choose how to deal with our student’s reactions. Should we continue with the lesson delivery or should we adjust our teaching according to the student’s reactions?

We do not have to keep on implementing the lesson plan we prepared come hell or high water:

“But plans – which help teachers identify aims and anticipate potential problems – are proposals for action rather than scripts to be followed slavishly.” Harmer (2001)

There are several reasons teachers may resort to a contingency plan, a plan B.:

  • Unforeseen learning opportunities: sometimes, events occur that can be exploited as valuable learning opportunities (news, an unexpected interesting conversation with the students, a topic that raises the student’s attention, etc.)
  • Unpredictable problems: problems often occur while teaching. Some activities that we considered interesting turn to be a flop. The use of technology may also pose some problems (e.g., power disruption).

Summary

  • A lesson plan is a unified set of activities that cover a period of classroom time.
  • Before designing a lesson, teachers must formulate their own personal philosophy of learning & teaching.
    • Do you think that students learn because we explain the target language to them?
    • Do you think that students learn because they discover how language works with the help of guiding questions?
    • Do you think that only after learners had tried to do a task using their own linguistic resources that accuracy-oriented activities should be introduced?
  • Lesson plan components include among other things class profile, objectives, procedure, mode of work, timing, etc.
  • Objectives have to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound.)
  • Procedures and activities should follow the KISS (Keep It Short and Simple) and The 3 Es (Ease, Economy, and Efficacy) principles.
  • The exposure/presentation stage shouldn’t’ take too much time. More importantly, the students have to practice and use the target language.
  • Teachers sometimes have to be flexible. Lesson plans are not to be implemented come hell or high water.

Powerpoint Presentation:

Powerpoint Presentation about effective lesson planning.

References

Brown, Douglas. 2001. Teaching by principles. An interactive approach to language pedagogy. San Francisco: Longman, 149-163.

Harmer, J. (2001). The practice of English language teaching. Essex, England: Longman.

Richards, J. C., & Lockhart, C. (1994). Reflective teaching in second language classrooms. Cambridge [England: Cambridge University Press.]

Scrivener, J., 2011. Learning teaching. [Oxford]: Macmillan Education. Newspaper. Scrivener, J.

Yinger, R. J. (1980). A Study of Teacher Planning. The Elementary School Journal, 80(3), 107–127. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1001636

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