Day 4

I'm well settled in. I know the names of all those I teach, but only three or four of those I study with.
There's John - a retired German speaking English businessman who wants to teach Business English so he'll have a challenge in his later years

Jo - a bubbly young lady who connects instantly with learners and somehow speaks with them in a way that's both natural and highly simplified

...and Monika - a Polish twentysomething woman, fluent in Spanish, French and German, one of those people who have competence coming out of their ears, combined with a terrible fear of not being good enough.

Apparantly I have logical lesson plans and speak in language understandable to learners. And apparantly I need to speak louder and spend at least some of the lesson sitting down. This is the current fashion in EFL teaching - teach sitting and not behind a desk.

We have five whole sessions timetabled for studying phonology - including phonemics, word stress, sentence stress, intonation, features of morpheme concatenation and word seperation...and I imagine some sandhi.

There's another four on "receptive skills". You don't know what they are? Me neither.

I said I'd tell you about lesson plans. Well, here goes, whether you want to know or not.

The first page has a series of headed boxes, which the teacher writes in.

Main Aim - What you want the students to be able to do, that they couldn't do before the lesson. Examples might be "To give the students a grasp of when to use the Past-simple, and when the Past-Progressive", or "By the end of the lesson the students will understand the semantic and grammatical distinctions between count and noncount nouns".

Subsidiary Aim(s) - The kind of things you touch on of achieve in passing while persuing the main aim. For instance "To give practice with adverbs of time" or "Remind class about collective nouns". Subsidiray aims are good for reinforcing main aims of previous lessons, or for doing things like building confidence or getting students to interact more.

Methodological Aim(s) - Things the teacher wants to do better in this lesson than in previous ones, such as "Project voice more clearly" and "Use more multimedia".

Or possibly "Stop staring at the demure Chinese girl's breasts". But maybe not, as other people sometimes see the plan.

Assumptions - What the students can already do. Things like "Students know all tense forms" and "Students have vocabulary related to weather"

Materials - Stuff you'll use to teach, apart from your voice, the whiteboard and your ability to mime. Photocopies, transparancies, DVDs, cassette recordings, maybe Powerpoint presentations etc. All items must be sourced, e.g. "Photocopies of 'Phrasal Verbs' by Fred Fanakapan, pp 33-34".

Anticipated Difficulties - Problems that might crop up. "Class may not have heard of Salvador Dali (who the sample reading text is about)" or "There may be confusion between progressive and perfect forms".

Solutions - Guess what? Ways around the Anticipated difficulties. The most common solution is to "Pre-teach", which is to tell the students about (say) Salvador Dali before giving out the reading material about his life.

These last two show up an odd feature of the lesson plan structure. You can list all the problems you like, so long as they all have solutions. What happens if you think of a possible problem without a solution? Simple! It doesn't go on the plan.

Result: You're not allowed to mention any of the major problems you might encounter.

And page one. And there's always at least four pages. Which might tell you why it takes three hours to plan a forty minute lesson.

The dubious joys of the other pages, typed up partly for my own clarification, after the weekend. Which I will spend writing an essay on "Student Motivation", too boring to be posted on any blog.


  1. Yuck. Thanks for making me think so early in the morning! :-P

    I'll just stick with my bastardized version of English.

  2. Reading this post made me go back to my training period... And the so many hours I've spent preparing each and every 50 minute lesson!
    The planning categories are more or less still the same, and they're quite appropriate for you to be aware of the details of all the interactions occurring in classroom. It's not THE solution to everything, but it's a great help indeed.
    As to «Student Motivation», I agree with you! Everything about that subject seems to come out of a black box, i.e., you can say almost anything... or nothing at all...
    Keep the good spirit!
    Oh yes, I go on keeping my fingers crossed! Lol!
    All the best, dear Kapitano! :-)