TeachingEnglish
      Planning 1

      Planning is one of those essential skills of the competent teacher. 

      This article looks at some general lesson planning questions:

      • What should go into an English language lesson?
      • What is a lesson plan?
      • Why is planning important?
      • Do you need to plan if you have a course book?
      • What are the principles of planning?


      What should go into an English language lesson?
      Every lesson and class is different. The content depends on what the teacher wants to achieve in the lesson. However it is possible to make some generalisations. Students who are interested in, involved in and enjoy what they are studying tend to make better progress and learn faster.

      When thinking about an English lesson it is useful therefore to keep the following three elements in mind - Engage - Study - Activate

      Engage
      This means getting the students interested in the class. Engaging students is important for the learning process.

      Study
      Every lesson usually needs to have some kind of language focus. The study element of a lesson could be a focus on any aspect of the language, such as grammar or vocabulary and pronunciation. A study stage could also cover revision and extension of previously taught material.

      Activate
      Telling students about the language is not really enough to help them learn it. For students to develop their use of English they need to have a chance to produce it. In an activate stage the students are given tasks which require them to use not only the language they are studying that day, but also other language that they have learnt.

      What is a lesson plan?
      A lesson plan is a framework for a lesson. If you imagine a lesson is like a journey, then the lesson plan is the map. It shows you where you start, where you finish and the route to take to get there.

      Essentially the lesson plan sets out what the teacher hopes to achieve over the course of the lesson and how he or she hopes to achieve it. Usually they are in written form but they don't have to be. New or inexperienced teachers may want to or be required to produce very detailed plans - showing clearly what is happening at any particular time in the lesson. However in a realistic teaching environment it is perhaps impractical to consider this detail in planning on a daily basis. As teachers gain experience and confidence planning is just as important but teachers develop the ability to plan more quickly and very experienced teachers may be able to go into class with just a short list of notes or even with the plan in their heads.

      Whatever the level of experience, it is important that all teachers take time to think through their lessons before they enter the classroom.

      Why is planning important?
      One of the most important reasons to plan is that the teacher needs to identify his or her aims for the lesson. Teachers need to know what it is they want their students to be able to do at the end of the lesson that they couldn't do before. Here are some more reasons planning is important:-

      • gives the teacher the opportunity to predict possible problems and therefore consider solutions
      • makes sure that lesson is balanced and appropriate for class
      • gives teacher confidence
      • planning is generally good practice and a sign of professionalism


      Do you need to plan if you have a course book?
      Many teachers will find themselves having to use a course book. There are advantages and disadvantages to having a course book - but although they do provide a ready-made structure for teaching material, it is very unlikely the material was written for the teachers' particular students. Each class is different and teachers need to be able to adapt material from whatever source so that it is suitable for their students. A course book can certainly help planning, but it cannot replace the teacher's own ideas for what he or she wants to achieve in a class.

      What are the principles of planning?

      • Aims - considering realistic goals for the lesson, not too easy but not too difficult. You may find the following checklist useful:
        • What do the students know already?
        • What do the students need to know?
        • What did you do with the students in the previous class?
        • How well do the class work together?
        • How motivated are the students?
      • Variety - an important way of getting and keeping the students engaged and interested.
      • Flexibility - expect the unexpected! Things don't always go to plan in most lessons. Experienced teachers have the ability to cope when things go wrong. It's useful when planning to build in some extra and alternative tasks and exercises. Also teachers need to be aware of what is happening in the classroom. Students may raise an interesting point and discussions could provide unexpected opportunities for language work and practice. In these cases it can be appropriate to branch away from the plan.


      Effective lesson planning is the basis of effective teaching. A plan is a guide for the teacher as to where to go and how to get there. However - don't let the plan dominate - be flexible in your planning so that when the opportunities arise you can go with the flow.

       
      Callum Robertson, BBC English

      Average: 4.1 (103 votes)

      Comments

      Diana_M's picture
      Diana_M
      Submitted on 14 March, 2011 - 07:11

      As the article says planning is essential for the teacher to always be aware of the aims of the lesson, however, in the real practice the lesson cannot be always carry out as planned and the teacher has to know how to deal with the setbacks or problems during the lesson and even though the lesson is not exactly as how was planned the teacher must keep in mind the aims and reach the goal of the course; here is when the efficiency and creativity of the teacher has to stands out.

      Walaa' Ahmed's picture
      Walaa' Ahmed
      Submitted on 18 May, 2011 - 16:24

      I agree that sometimes the lesson plan can not be carried out as planned and it depends on the students knowledge and discussions,however it is essential for the time management and the teacher self-confidence.
       

      cherry kiss's picture
      cherry kiss
      Submitted on 23 February, 2012 - 12:00

      I completely agree with author’s opinion about the importance of lesson planning in classrooms. As we all know,  lesson planning is one of the most important and basic conditions in organizing learning, being one of the main duties of the teacher as a regulator of his pupils’ learning.There is no doubt that organizing others’ learning in a certain situation is considered to be a magnificent job which has it’s rules and conditions that a dutiful teacher should be aware of according to the available circumstances. Meaningful planning is a major step towards success to pave the way for a suitable atmosphere for learning inside or outside the classroom without wasting time in useless affairs.Classroom lesson planning is known as the process that leads to having a comprehensive outlook of the educational situations that the teacher prepares in order to achieve his aims. It is also the process that leads to putting a teaching plan including educational situations containing any other processes depending on aims specification, selecting the methods and procedures that help in achieving, evaluating and executing the plan.This may help:*teachers  avoid  the awkward situations in front of his pupils or whenever classroom problems may rise;*teachers achieve the educational objectives easily on behalf of his pupils;*teacher  improve, enrich and develop the curricula;*enable the teacher to know the priorities of the teaching process. 

      alexisrodriguez's picture
      alexisrodriguez
      Submitted on 7 September, 2013 - 00:49

      I think planning a lesson depends on what purpuse you have. For example If you are self-evaluating yourself or you are going to be observed in a collaborative way.

      One of the features of lesson plans is: Aims - Goals and Objectives. Different authors refers to them but there is a set definition.

      What can you, colleges, tell me about those term? I think they are sometimes overlooked