The TEFL lesson plan is one of the absolute most important parts of a TEFL teacher’s job. Without a lesson plan, nothing in the TEFL world really exists. Lesson plans are the basis for each class. TEFL lesson plans take a lot of hard work, time and creativity in order to be successful. In our TEFL certification courses, we learn how to formulate different lessons for different learning points, however, it’s easy to forget these over the years. If you’re a new teacher, it’s also intimidating to put some of these in practice for the first time, so we’re here to help you through that.
It’s important to note that some lessons are better than others. Not every lesson you teach will be successful. A mini-game of trial and error is always happening when you try out a new lesson. Furthermore, after teaching a new lesson for the first time, you’ll realize some of the things you need to tweak in order to perfect the lesson. And, as for some lessons, you’ll probably throw a few out the window. It’s all a learning experience for us teachers, as well as the students. If one of your lessons doesn’t go as planned, don’t worry, you’ll get them next time. All of us have off days in the classroom, so it’s important not to get too down on yourself.
Now, on to the fun part. Not exactly sure how to create a good lesson? Here are some of the criteria I use when I create a lesson. I think that they will be beneficial to you too. Follow these steps to create an awesome TEFL lesson plan for your students!
1. Think about what your end goal is: what is it that you are trying to accomplish? Are you teaching the difference between present simple and present perfect? How will you demonstrate the differences between the two tenses?
One thing I learned in my TEFL certification course was the acronym: K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Try to keep everything as simple as you can. Simpler is better for everything. When teachers come up with complex means of teaching a fairly simple English grammar point, students get more confused than necessary. Learning the English language is already a hard thing to do.
So, figure that out and then figure out the best way to get there. Present the lesson that you want to address point blank. Then, you have to think of some practice activities that will give your students a chance to put this learning point to use. Is it through a game? Flashcards? Different word gaps and crossword puzzles? It could be any of those things, a combo or anything else! Get creative and try to keep it as simple as possible.
2. What materials do you need? Different lessons call for different materials! It’s the worst when you’re midway through a lesson and forget something crucial! A personal example of this situation happened one time when I was teaching prepositions. For this lesson, I usually bring in a box with a toy elephant and ask the students where the elephant is in correlation to the box. Well, I forgot the box and the elephant and my whole lesson was a whole lot more difficult to do!
I got nervous (which students are very capable of noticing) and began to cram. I have not forgotten the elephant or the box since then!
3. Always, always plan a backup activity! There have been so many times in my classroom when I thought I had plenty of materials to last my 90-minute class and then I ran out of activities with 15-20 minutes left! This is the worst! Because of this, I always have some extra activities ready to go just in case!
You look unprofessional when this happens and the students get annoyed. Why? Because they’ve carved the time out of their schedule to be in your class, and now they’re there with nothing to do?! That’s unacceptable in my book. I always keep English BINGO with me in case of this. I also make extra worksheets of whatever we were working on that day for extra practice. If we do use the whole lesson, then I give these worksheets as additional homework for the night.
4. Be aware of any new vocabulary and create a list before class. Write the list on the board before you start class. After your warm-up (which I always do), go through the list of words. See if any of your students know them. Think of creative ways to teach them if they do not know them. Remember: Never use the same word to describe itself. This is a big no-no.
By doing this, it helps because it introduces the students to new words before you get into the nitty-gritty of the lesson. That way, there are fewer side questions during the core of your lesson.
5. Last, but not least, always stay calm and have fun! Even if something veers slightly from the original plan, it is so important to stay calm! As a matter of fact, sometimes my plans will go completely off road. My students grab on to one word that I said, and it takes us off on a total tangent. I don’t mind this because if my students are interested and engaged then they are still learning. I can always circle back to the original lesson, but this is actually an amazing thing when it happens.
You’ll get your original lesson taught eventually, try to just enjoy the ride getting there!
Follow these few steps and you’ll be on your way to a great TEFL lesson plan.