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TEFL Training In Costa Rica | Updated: 10/26/2022

How Do I Plan Lessons for my English Students?

Written by International TEFL Academy Costa Rica

As a new teacher, planning a lesson to help students learn English can sound overwhelming!  How do you know what to teach and how to teach it?  During our 4-week TEFL training, we will give you all the tools and knowledge necessary to understand the needs of your English students and how to create effective and engaging lessons to assist them in learning English.


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Why Plan Lessons?

To be an effective teacher, you need to have some type of plan when entering the classroom.   A lesson plan is a framework of your teaching that guides you through a lesson toward the language goal you have set for your students, whether that is a specific grammar point, set of vocabulary or even a skill like speaking, reading, writing or listening.  Especially as a new teacher, these plans need to be thorough, well-planned and incorporating a number of activities.


What do I need to consider as I plan a lesson?

To plan an effective lesson, take into consideration the following:

  • Who are your students? What is their current English language?  Why are they studying English?  Age?  Cultural background?  Education level?  Personalities?  Learning styles?  Interests? 
  • What is the language goal of the lesson? A grammar point?  Vocabulary based on a certain topic?  Reading skills?  Speaking skills?  Writing skills?  Listening skills?   Make sure these goals are obtainable in your allotted class time and measurable.  What do I want the students to do?  Will they be creating a presentation?  Writing a letter?  Comparing and contrasting?  Discussing or debating? 
  • How does the individual lesson goal connect and support the overall goal of the course?

3 Important ESL Classroom Techniques

What are the stages of a good lesson plan?  

When planning a lesson based on a specific grammar or vocabulary point, these five basic stages should be included in your plan.

Warm-up. The warm-up stage includes greeting/welcoming your students and starting the lesson. This may be reviewing a key component of the previous lesson or a quick game or activity to get the students thinking in English.

Presentation stage. The presentation stage is where the language concept of the particular lesson is introduced. Normally, the teacher will begin with an introduction activity to set the scene, generate interest and activate students’ background knowledge of the topic.  You can bring in a picture or short video or even ask a question about the students’ personal experiences with this topic. Next, the language focus of the lesson should be modeled in the form of a short reading, dialogue or even audio clip. This will give the students an idea of what they will be learning and what the goal of the class is.   After the grammar or vocabulary is modeled in a natural context, you should use this model as a basis for teaching the rules, forms or definitions of the language you are focusing on.  Keep everything simple, concise and relevant.  Make sure the students take notes and ask comprehension questions to check for understanding before moving on to the practice.

Practice stageIn the practice stage, students are given multiple opportunities to practice and apply the new language through a series of controlled and monitored activities. These activities might be gap fills, true/false activities, multiple choice, games with flashcards or a myriad of other activities that give the students repetitive review of the same concept. You should include at least three different activities and make sure you provide feedback, guidance, and correction as they work.

Production stageFinally, in the production stage, the students are asked to use the language they have just practiced in a more open-ended and creative structure. Give the students an opportunity to produce original and meaningful communication. Students are working at this stage in pairs or small groups to use the language that was taught and practiced in order to produce the language either in a spoken or written manner and is generally task-based. The teacher’s role at this point is to manage time, make sure students are on task, offer feedback if requested, and keep a written record of students’ errors.

The difference between the practice and production stages can be minimal, depending on the English level.  However, remember that practice activities should be guided and generally have a correct answer.  Productions, on the other hand, can have many correct answers and mirror real-life, authentic situations.

Review stage. The review stage is the final component of a lesson. The teacher should review the concept covered in the class, any new vocabulary and students’ errors.  Check for comprehension, clarify any remaining questions the students may have, and provide homework so the students can continue to practice the concept.

Even though there are many variations and accepted formats for lesson plans, they all follow the basic components listed above. Whichever format you choose to use, find one that works best for you, your teaching style and situation, and the needs and goals of your class and students.


Don’t forget that the classroom environment can sometimes be unpredictable, so be flexible and adjust your plan as needed.  Don’t be afraid to stray away from the plan a bit if a teachable moment arises.  Want to learn more about lesson planning and get personal guidance as you practice with real ESL students?  Sign up for one of our 4-week TEFL courses today!  

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