Teaching ESL: Creating a Lesson Plan in 4 Steps

Teaching English as a second language requires a great deal of patience, and some careful planning. The purpose of any lesson in education is to teach something new to the learner. For the ESL teacher, it may be a new set of vocabulary, syntax or grammar. Whatever the subject, you as a teacher will need a guide to help with time management, keep the material organized and easy to understand. That is where the lesson plan comes in. But where, and how does a teacher begin to create a lesson plan? This article will give you a 4-step guide to lesson planning for ESL students.

Lesson Planning Guide


1. Introduction, warm-up, revision

2. Presentation

3. Practice

4. Production


1. Introduction, warm-up, revision

Before putting your students directly to sleep by beginning a long lecture, it is best to complete a warm-up type exercise. If you plan on introducing a new lesson, take this as a good time to set the scene of the lesson. You can set the scene in a few ways: by asking your students to think about a certain topic, brainstorm on the whiteboard, play a game or review material from an older lesson. This will spark their interest right away. More importantly, it will help to get students thinking in the right direction, focus their attention, and prepare them for the lesson ahead. Regardless of the amount of time available for the lesson, this part of your lesson plan should only last for 5-10 minutes.

2. Presentation

The presentation part of the lesson is where the new material is well, you guessed it, presented. You can present the new material in various ways: a written text, a song, a dialogue on tape etc. In order to help students actually digest the new material rather than just swallow it, this portion of the lesson must be paired with clear explanations of the grammar, along with examples. It is highly recommended to show several clear and concise examples, in context. Before moving on to part 3 of the lesson, make sure students have some understanding of the material they just learned, as well as an understanding of it's meaning and proper use.

3. Practice

The practice stage of the lesson is where the student gets involved. The goal of the practice stage is that students use the material you presented in context. This is where the teacher provides activities/exercises for students. The teachers role in this part of the lesson is to manage students, and encourage them to use the new language by working in groups or pairs. The activities or exercises you'll want to prepare for this stage may vary: a short role-play, games, fill-in-the blanks, guided dialogue, information gaps, and problem solving activities are all some great ideas. The practice should focus on oral, reading and/or written skills. Upon termination, the teacher can collect these activities to grade and return, or review the answers in class together. This part of the lesson will take up the bulk of class time. It will serve to ensure students have a solid grasp on the material you had just presented. It's best to use a large range of practice activities to keep students intrigued and excited. Below are some helpful websites to add to your arsenal of teaching tools.

4. Production

Finally, the production part of the lesson. This is the fun part. This is the part of the lesson where the teacher should have minimal to no involvement. It gives students the chance to use their newly learned material freely and openly. The production activity can be done in a group, in pairs, or individually depending on what it is. As a group, they can gather to solve a solution to a problem, or they can pair off to act out a role-playing activity. In the end, the student should be able to achieve the goal's lesson: to express an understanding of language by using the new material in context, with minimal, if any, teacher interference.

Use this as a simple guide when planning a lesson for ESL students. Use the links provided as helpful resources. And please, leave a comment below.

More by this Author


Comments 14 comments

Aussieteacher profile image

Aussieteacher 6 years ago from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Good post. I've just completed my third semester teaching English in China. Quite challenging. You have some useful information here.


jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 6 years ago from California Author

aussieteacher - thanks for the comment. I hope teaching in China is going well...I have considered doing that myself.


kasgjal 6 years ago

Thankyou... this year's beginning has really been tough for me, I needed a refresher.


jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 6 years ago from California Author

kasgjal - glad I could help. happy you enjoyed. cheers.


World-Traveler profile image

World-Traveler 6 years ago from USA

Great tips for teachers and the students that come to your site here can benefit as well. Great!


jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 6 years ago from California Author

world-traveler - that's my only hope that people will benefit from what I write somehow. Thanks for the insight.


umesh jha 5 years ago

for teaching as well that the student can not think the enligh is a burdan for the student


jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 5 years ago from California Author

umesh - I agree....I think. Either way, thanks for the comment.


Middlespecialist profile image

Middlespecialist 5 years ago

I think this is a great hub! Voted up and useful. The only thing I would add is an assessment activity in number 3 where the student gets feedback from the teacher or other students or self-assesses. Assessment really does help with retention.


jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 5 years ago from California Author

Middlespecialist - Very true. Thanks for the valuable input and kind words...


englishfreestyle profile image

englishfreestyle 4 years ago

This is a useful hub for new ESL/EFL teachers. Good job!


Nono 4 years ago

This is really interesting! Thank you so much for sharing :)


Mona Ahmed 3 years ago

Nice topic I got fruitful information. Thanks a lot


Mariasha profile image

Mariasha 16 months ago from Rotherham

awesome piece of hub. Well done

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working