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Catedra de Limba si Literatura engleza ELT Methodology 2011

The success with which a teacher conducts a lesson is often thought to depend on the effectiveness with which the lesson was planned. (Richards 1998: 103) Many of your decisions intended to promote learning in the classroom will be based on your answer to the question: How do I plan my lessons to promote as much learning as possible? Planning includes all the decisions you make before working directly with the pupils. Before you teach a lesson it helps to be clear about what exactly you want to do. A lot is going to happen on the spot in the class, but the better prepared you are, the more likely it is that you will be ready to cope with whatever happens. Most teachers have in advance some idea of any lesson they are about to teach: they have an idea of what they will try to cover and how. Fewer teachers prepare their lessons in detail. However, we encourage you to write a wide range of lesson plans. Even though you may later on choose to plan your lessons more skeletally, the exercise of thorough and disciplined planning will provide you with an insight into your teaching and will make your lessons more effective. During the planning phase, you will make decisions about goals, activities, resources, timing, pupils grouping, and other aspects of the lesson. Objectives By the end of this lecture you will: have a good idea of what needs to be included in a lesson plan be able to formulate main and subsidiary lesson aims for various types of lessons distinguish aims from activities use a suitable lesson plan layout.

Key Concepts: pre-planning, planning, timetable fit, assumed knowledge,

anticipated problems, aims, timing, plan layout, timetabling, lesson implementation, lesson plan evaluation

Introduction to lesson planning

Lesson planning means the daily decisions a teacher makes for the successful outcome of the lesson. (Richards and Renandya, 30) Planning is a key aspect of effective teaching. Most teachers engage in yearly, term, unit, weekly, and daily lesson planning. Yearly and term planning usually involve listing the objectives for a particular programme. A unit plan is a series of related lessons around a specific theme, such as Going shopping (see also Timetabling, below). Planning daily lessons is the result of a complex planning process that includes the yearly, term, and unit plans. A daily lesson plan describes how you will organise the pupils learning in order to attain specific objectives, in other words how your teaching behaviour will result in pupil learning. Lesson plans are systematic records of the teachers thoughts about what will be covered in a lesson. A lesson plan helps the teacher think about the lesson in advance and

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be prepared to resolve problems, deal with difficulties, provide a structure for the lesson. According to Richards (1998, 103), a lesson plan is like a map for the teacher to follow and a record of what has been taught. Although planning is sometimes seen as a chore, lesson planning has enormous advantages for both pupils and teachers. Here are a few of the (internal) advantages a teacher may have from planning: it means anticipation, coherence, balance and clarity of purpose it helps you learn the subject matter better it makes lesson execution easier it makes the lesson run smoothly it allows for flexibility in lesson execution it saves time in the long run it looks professional it makes you understand that some things are more important than others it helps you teach more confidently it makes self-appraisal much easier.

The pupils will benefit from the decisions made by the teacher after considering their backgrounds, interests, learning styles and abilities. The result of these decisions will be a coherent, varied, well-targeted and well-shaped lesson, which will be appreciated by your pupils. Moreover, there are external reasons for planning lessons: teachers may be asked to do this by the school principal or a supervisor or to guide a substitute teacher. A lesson plan will also be a guide to anybody observing your teaching or reading about your lessons: A lesson plan will help your observer or reader see how you have prepared for your lesson and the factors you have taken into consideration. A lesson plan makes the task of commenting upon lessons much easier. It explains why you are doing something at a particular point in a lesson, and it may locate and identify any problems. A lesson plan is something concrete that can be referred to. This is useful either in feedback with your inspector, observer and tutor or for your reader.

What elements do you need to plan for an English lesson?

Think first!

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There are some general areas to consider when planning: The learners. Will they enjoy the lesson? Will they benefit from it? The aims. What will the learners achieve? What are you going to achieve yourself? The teaching point. What is the subject matter of the lesson the skills or language areas that will be studied and the topics you will deal with? The teaching procedures. What activities will you use? What sequence will they come in? Materials. What texts, tapes, pictures, exercises, role-cards, etc. will you use? Classroom management. What will you say? How will the seating be arranged? How much time will each stage take?

Plan for your pupils. If you do not know much about the class, try to find out as much as possible about them before you decide what to teach. Bear in mind their level of language, their background, their motivation and their learning styles. Remember that besides knowledge of the pupils, you also need to have knowledge of the syllabus. Harmer (2001) says that in your lesson plan you will need to include four main elements: activities, skills, language and content: Decide what the pupils will be doing in the classroom and how they will be grouped. Think what kind of activity would fit them at any particular point in the lesson. Vary and balance the activities so that each pupil gets a chance of finding the lesson engaging and motivating. Decide which language skill(s) you need to develop in that lesson. Your choice may be limited by the syllabus or the textbook. However, you still need to plan how the pupils will work on the respective skill(s) and what sub-skills you want to develop. Decide what language (e.g. lexical items, grammar structures) you need to introduce and practise. The key question, probably, is What are the aims of the lesson? If you can answer this if you can be clear about what you hope your learners will have achieved by the end of the lesson then perhaps the other questions will become easier to answer. Starting from the textbook, select the content. Keep in mind that the textbook is just a guide and that you are free to replace what is given in the textbook with something else. You are, after all, the class teacher who knows the pupils personally and can predict which topics will be found interesting and which boring. Remember however, that the most interesting topic will become boring if the task set for the pupils is uninteresting and that, on the other hand, topics that are not particularly interesting can become very successful if you assign a task that your pupils find engaging.

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Teachers knowledge of the students Teachers knowledge of the syllabus


Language skills

Language type

Subject and content

Practical realities

The plan
Fig. 3.1 Lesson Planning (after Harmer, J., 2001, The Practice of English Language Teaching, p. 310)

Your lesson plan will reflect many of the important features of your lesson: your understanding of aims (main and subsidiary) your awareness of the language your ability to anticipate problems the balance and variety of activities in the lesson the interaction patterns used whether or not whole stages of the lesson are missing the allocation of time to particular activities

We therefore need to look at writing lesson plans and consider what they should contain.

Writing a lesson plan

Even though a lesson may have already been planned by the textbook writer, the teacher still needs to relate that lesson to the needs of the specific class s/he teaches, to the needs, wants, problems and interests of the pupils. During this process of adaptation, the teacher transforms the content of the lesson and makes decisions that will make the lesson successful. Not all these decisions will be included in the written lesson plan. Many experienced teachers teach successful lessons based on brief notes or mental plans. However, student teachers are expected to produce a detailed lesson plan for each lesson taught, as an awareness-raising tool. Requiring you to sit down and think through your aims and procedure very carefully may help you to become clearer about what works and why. A lesson plan turns a potential lesson (such as a textbook lesson) into the basis for an engaging and effective lesson. A lesson plan results from a number of thinking processes and involves making decisions about what topics to study, what the pupils should know or be able to do by the end of the lesson, what examples are needed, what strategies can be used and how learning will be assessed.

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Harmer (1991) includes the following elements in a lesson plan: a. description of the class b. recent work c. objectives d. contents (context, activity and class organisation, aids, language, possible problems) e. additional possibilities. Lesson planning involves decisions about the pedagogical dimensions of the lesson, but also decisions about the management of the class during the lesson: eliciting pupils attention, maintaining their engagement in the lesson, organising their interaction, monitoring their learning. The dominant model of lesson planning is Tylers rational-linear framework (1949). This model has four sequential steps: (1) specify objectives; (2) select learning activities; (3) organise learning activities; (4) specify methods of evaluation. A lesson plan normally contains preliminary information under several headings. Think first! What preliminary information do you think is usually introduced at the beginning of a lesson plan?

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Preliminary information
Timetable fit Level Time Class profile Aims (main and subsidiary) Assumed knowledge and anticipated problems Materials and aids

The preliminary information sheet is usually about 1 or 2 pages:

1. Timetable fit. This shows how your lesson fits into a sequence of lessons. Here you need to show how this lesson relates to other lessons that have gone before and those that will follow. State briefly what textbook you are using with the class, the work relevant to the lesson that you have covered and give some indication of how the lesson will be consolidated in future lessons. 2. Level. Here you state the level of the class: Beginner, Elementary, Lower or Upper Intermediate, Advanced, or Proficient and the year of study. 3. Time. The usual length of a lesson is about 50 minutes. 4. Class profile. Make some brief general comments about the class as a whole (atmosphere, etc) and mention any relevant points about individual students (age, particular strengths or weaknesses, etc). This information is particularly useful if your reader, tutor or inspector has not seen your lesson.

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5. Aims (main aim/objective and subsidiary aims). For every lesson you teach, and for each activity within that lesson, it is useful to be able to state what the aims are. An aim is the description of a learning outcome, the destination wher you want to take your pupils (not the journey itself). It is important, therefore, to separate mentally the following from the aims of the lesson: (a) the material you use; (b) the activities that will be done; (c) the teaching point (the language skills or systems that the lesson will work on); (d) the topics or contexts that will be used; You cannot say, for instance, that your aim is to do a role-play since this is an activity, not an aim. Youi need to specify what your aim for the activity (subsidiary aim) is (e.g. to consolidate vocabulary related to previous work in class or to recycle expressing polite refusals, or to develop fluency in etc.) In the following list of headings, say which is an aim and which is an activity. a) Develop the scan reading skill; b) Dialogue building; c) Headway p. 36; d) Grammar revision: conditional clauses; e) Jigsaw reading; f) Further practice of /s/ vs. /z/ and /iz/ in plural endings; g) Introduction of the language of disagreeing; h) Warmer; i) Elicit use of Present Perfect. 6. Assumed knowledge and anticipated problems. Thinking about your pupils when you are planning is crucial. The assumptions and anticipated problems are the specific things, relevant to the aims of your lesson, which you anticipate your pupils may either find easy or have problems with. This is an important part of your lesson plan since it shows your ability to analyse language. Specify briefly what relevant language you think your pupils already know (vocabulary, structures, etc). If you intend to do some skill work, state the level of ability your pupils have with that skill. It is more difficult to make assumptions about levels of skill than about levels of knowledge. If you have recently taken over a class, then you may need to test out the pupils skills before you can make any safe assumptions. Analyse anticipated problems under the following headings on your lesson plan: a) meaning, b) form, c) phonology, and d) level of skill (e.g. present level of your pupils ability in coping with listening tasks). Occasionally, you may need to add a fifth heading, e) sociocultural problems. Here are some example statements of assumptions and anticipated problems: The pupils have good gist listening skills but are not very used to listening to loudspeaker announcements. The pupils have come across most of the vocabulary before, but only in their reading. The pupils are familiar with the topic area; it was the subject of a discussion in a previous lesson. The pupils have good higher processing skills but tend to make mistakes in

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interpreting grammatical discourse markers. Alternatively, you can analyse separately the pupils assumed knowledge and the problems you anticipate when teaching that lesson. 7. Materials and aids. List any materials, references, tapes, pictures, board drawings, diagrams, handouts, realia, etc. you intend to use. State also if the material is your own or where you took it from (as this will be very useful when you teach the same lesson again.)


Formulating aims

You are expected to offer a clear statement of aims before you start teaching a lesson. This is a useful training discipline, forcing you to concentrate on deciding what activities and procedures are most likely to lead to specific outcomes for the learners. This is probably the most important part of your lesson plan since your lesson will ultimately be judged in terms of your aims. It is essential that the lesson aims are realistic, achievable, clearly specified and directed towards an outcome that can be measured. Clear, well-written aims are the first step in daily lesson planning. They state precisely what you want your pupils to learn; they also help you guide the selection of the activities, the overall lesson focus and direction. They also help you evaluate what the pupils have learned at the end of the lesson. If you are unsure about the aims of your lesson, use this maxim: What is it that my pupils should be able to do by the end of the lesson that they couldnt do at the beginning? The most important aim concerns intended student achievements: things that they will have learned by the end of the lesson. You can deal with aims under two headings: main/major and subsidiary. In a lesson of 50 minutes you will normally have two or three main aims. These should encapsulate what the lesson is basically about. Aims refer to either language development or skills improvement. In an English lesson, languageoriented aims may be for instance the introduction and controlled oral practice of a certain grammar structure, while a skill-oriented aim may be to improve the pupils listening skill or to increase the pupils confidence and ability to scan a text. Subsidiary aims will be derived from the main aims (e.g. to give the pupils practice in selective listening, in anticipating content, and in using guessing strategies to overcome lexical difficulties). In an English class, the lesson aims will be mainly cognitive and affective. Generally speaking, the cognitive aims are statements that describe the knowledge that the pupils are expected to acquire or construct. Use in the formulation of these aims verbs like: remember, understand, apply, analyse, evaluate and create. Apply these verbs to the four main dimensions of knowledge: factual, conceptual, procedural and metacognitive, as you will most probably want your pupils to do more than remember facts. In the 21st century, your pupils will expect thinking, decision making and problem solving to be increasingly emphasised in the classroom. A number of aims that fit into the affective domain, which focus on attitudes, values and on the development of the pupils personal and emotional growth, are also recommended. Although much of the focus in the affective domain is implicit, sometimes we need to concentrate on it deliberately. For example, in a lesson with reference to multiculturalism, your aim may be to develop your pupils awareness of and appreciation of another cultures values and customs. Remember that attitudes, values and emotions strongly affect learning, and when you plan and teach a lesson, you should keep in mind factors like willingness to listen, open-mindedness, commitment to values and involvement.

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If you have a clear objective (main aim) for a lesson, you can bear this in mind all the way through the class. Knowing where you are going enables you to make moment-bymoment decisions about different paths or options to take en route, while keeping the main objective always clearly in front of you. Good lesson planning, and especially good specifying of objectives does not restrict you, but in clarifying the end point you intend to teach, sets you free to go towards that point in the most appropriate ways in class. Remeber that the lesson has limited aims (2 3), and that you shouldnt try to achieve too much. Is teaching the present perfect a realistic aim for a lesson? How about doing a listening exercise?

Try to formulate aims that are learner-centred, such as to enable the pupils to use the present perfect with a greater degree of accuracy. Distinguish between teaching aims and learning aims. You may have aims for yourself in the lesson (teaching aims), such as to improve the clarity of my instructions. These should be expressed in a separate section. The following headings can help you specify aims for a reading or listening lesson: text type, style and register, reading or listening style, specific language aim, specific skills aim, and so on. Here are some examples of lesson aims: Text type, style and register: To provide practice in reading magazine articles in informal style. To present an ESP (medical) journal article, with formal style and marked register. To provide practice in listening to loudspeaker announcements. To provide practice in listening to formal speeches. Reading or listening style: To test pupils intensive reading abilities To provide practice in skim listening Specific language aims To provide receptive practice of some discourse connectors (e.g. however, although, though) To present comment segments introduced by which (e.g. I got there early, which is why I had to wait so long, etc.) Specific skills aim To help pupils use their background knowledge to make correct inferences To present a way of dealing with unfamiliar words by breaking them down into parts To provide practice in reading magazine articles in informal style and to help the pupils use background knowledge to make correct inferences. To present discourse linkers such as however, although, though.

It is often desirable to kill two or more birds with one stone and set aims, thus:

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How could you formulate the above aims in a more learnercentred way?

The language you use for stating aims is important. Action verbs are typically used to identify the desired pupil behaviour. Vague verbs such as understand, appreciate, enjoy or learn are avoided because these situations are difficult to quantify. Action verbs such as identify, present, describe, explain, demonstrate, list, contrast or debate are clearer and the situations easier to understand and evaluate. The best-known source for useful action verbs is Blooms Taxonomy of Thinking Processes. Here are a few verbs taken from Blooms taxonomy, together with the cognitive process involved: Knowledge: tell, list, define, name, identify, state, remember, repeat; Comprehension/understanding: transform, change, restate, describe, explain, review, paraphrase, relate, generalise, infer; Application: apply, practice, employ, use, demonstrate, illustrate, show, report; Analysis: analyse, distinguish, examine, compare, contrast, survey, investigate, separate, categorize, classify, organise; Synthesis: compose, construct, design, modify, imagine, produce, propose Evaluation: judge, decide, select, evaluate, critique, debate, verify, recommend, assess.



After writing the preliminary information, you must decide the activities and procedures that you will use to ensure the successful attainment of the aims. Therefore, at this stage you need to think through the purposes and structures of the activities, in othe words, the shape of the lesson. A generic lesson plan has five phases (Shrum and Glisan 1994): 1. Perspective or opening. The teacher asks the pupils what was the previous activity (what was previously learned)? Then the teacher gives a preview of the new lesson. 2. Stimulation. This phase prepares the pupils for the new activity. The teacher (a) poses a question to get the pupils thinking about the coming activity; (b) helps the pupils to relate the activity to their lives; (c) begins with an attention grabber: an anecdote, a picture, or a song; and (d) uses the response to the attention grabber as a lead into the activity. 3. Instruction/participation. This phase involves the teacher in presenting the activity, checking for pupils understanding and encouraging active pupil involvement. Interaction can be stimulated by pair and/or group work. 4. Closure. The teacher asks what the pupils have learned by asking questions such as What did you learn? how do you feel about these activities? The teache then gives a preview about the possibilities for future lessons. 5. Follow-up. The teacher uses other activities to reinforce some concepts and even introduce some new ones. The teacher gives the pupils opportunities to do independent work and can set certain activities or tasks taken from the lesson as

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homework. Of course, teachers can have variations on this generic model. As pupils gain competence, they can take on a larger role in choosing the content and the structure of the lesson. On the other hand, language lessons may be different form other lessons because the concepts may need to be reinforced time and again using various procedures. If the question What do you want the pupils to learn and why? needs to be addressed before reaching the procedure part of the lesson plan, the following questions, suggested by Farrell (in Richards and Renandya, 34) may be useful for you to answer before starting to write the procedure part of the lesson plan: Are all the tasks necessary worth doing and at the right level? What materials, aids, will you use, why and when? What type of interaction will you encourage pair work or group work and why? What instructions will you have to give and how will you give them (written, oral)? What questions will you ask? How will you monitor pupil understanding during different stages of the lesson?

A good lesson plan should be clear and logical, and make the lesson reconstructable (i.e. someone else should be able to teach it following your lesson plan). You do not need to write a word-for-word script, but you need more than brief notes that only you understand. When teaching the lesson, you may wish to have a simpler working document for yourself, which shows major stages, concept questions, types of interaction, timing, etc. Some teachers like to use a series of cards that carry instructions and contain the main points of a particular stage so that they can easily refer to them during the lesson. Show how you will convey meaning and check understanding. Write concept questions on your lesson plan, with the answers you expect. Remember that you may also need to ask questions about style, register, connotation, etc. All this will demonstrate that you have analysed the language you are teaching. On the lesson plan, show the form clearly. Where you anticipate pronunciation problems, show awareness of sounds, stress and intonation. On the lesson plan, give the phonetic transcription of problematic words or chunks of language and mark stress and intonation patterns. When teaching vocabulary, mark word stress on lexical items. These will make clear why you are doing something at a particular point in your lesson. They will also help your observer, tutor, inspector or reader to assess the effectiveness of any part of the lesson and help you to clarify the distinction between aims and activities. In the list below, the left-hand column contains subsidiary aims which were written by various teachers, but which may deserve closer scrutiny. Analyse these aims and write your own comments in the right-hand column. Aims Your Comments
To develop the listening skill To practise the skill of listening for detailed

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information. To practise gist listening. To practise reading for understanding. To practise skimming a long written text. To practise scanning for specific information

Showing the type of interaction for each stage and activity (e.g. T - S, S - S, in groups, in pairs, etc.), will help you to assess if there is sufficient variety of focus in the lesson. Show the approximate amount of time you expect to spend on each stage or activity in the lesson. Be realistic about this. A lot will depend on your experience and judgement. Sometimes the timing can go wrong, so dont be afraid of being flexible in the lesson. Timing The time you give to particular stages or activities is often a reflection of what you perceive to be important in the lesson, so you will need to make appropriate decisions about timing. Remember to allow for thinking time and keep in mind that the pupils concentration span on any activity is only about 20 - 30 minutes. Giving an approximate timing can also help you to limit your aims, and it can help you to learn from experience how long some kinds of activities can take. If you have timing problems with lessons, this may be due to several causes: poor understanding of aims confusion over what the main aims and subsidiary aims are unanticipated problems due to insufficient language analysis different learning rates among pupils the pupils unfamiliarity with the concepts used poor language grading insufficient or confusing instructions slow pace of the lesson, etc.

One possible solution to timing problems is to build flexible slots into the lesson plan, which can be used or dropped as necessary. Include brief but clear class management instructions, e.g. for organising pair work, group work, for the use of the textbook, etc. Board work Plan board work before the lesson so that it is clearly organised and legible. Show on your lesson plan how you will make use of the board during the lesson. Board work will include titles, rules, diagrams, example sentences, phonological features, i.e. anything that the pupils will write down as a record of the lesson. Remember to go round the classroom and check whether the pupils are copying down accurately. Alternatively, a well designed handout (e.g. a grammar reference handout) can be given to save time in the lesson. Board work can also be prepared before the lesson on OHP transparencies.

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Skills work Show how you will prepare and interest the pupils in these activities. For instance, say what questions you prepared to elicit contributions. Include pre-set questions for reading or listening tasks and their expected answers. For listening activities, indicate the number of times you intend to play the tape. Homework Make sure the homework task you set is meant to consolidate what has been covered in the lesson and to check if learning has taken place. To sum up the features of good lesson plan, this should have: clearly specified aims evidence of language analysis logical staging of the lesson clear and easy to read procedure.

The stages of the lesson should be clearly indicated on the plan. Being able to refer to stages numerically makes the plan easier to read (e.g. 1.a, 3.b, etc.). The ending and beginning of stages should also be made clear to the pupils during the lesson.


A final check of the lesson plan

Having done all the above, spend some time thinking: Is there sufficient variety? Look at the activities, focus, pace and interaction patterns. Could the pupils be more involved at each stage? What are the pupils asked to contribute at each stage? What are the pupils required to do? What is your role at each stage (corrector, monitor, resource, participant)?

Layout of lesson plans

The layout style you adopt for the Procedure part of the lesson plan is a question of individual taste. Here are some tips: Give a heading to each stage. This will help you to plan logically staged lessons and make it clear how the stages of the lesson develop, e.g.: presenting new language getting across meaning highlighting form and pronunciation controlled practice less controlled practice freer practice / personalisation / creative stage

The heading also helps to ensure that important stages of the lesson are not left out and that appropriate materials are prepared for the practice stages. Your lesson plan layout can be linear or tabular (arranged in the form of a table). Linear plans are written as any normal text would be, with headings and sub-headings. If you choose to use a tabular layout, here are two versions of what it may look like:

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Interaction Patterns


Teacher activity

Pupil Activity

Step/ Stage 1

Time 510 mins

Tasks (teacher) Opening: introduction to the topic sport. T activates schema for sport. T asks Ss to help her write down as many different kinds of sport on the board within 3 minutes. T asks Ss to rank their favourite sports in order of importance

Tasks (pupils) Listen

Inter action T Ss

Aims (purpose) Arouse interest. Activate schema for sport.

Ss call out the answer to the question as the T writes the answers on the board. T writes the answers.
(from Farrell, 36)

The advantage of the tabular layout is that you have to think about what needs to be written in each of the columns for each stage of the lesson. It is also easy to see if the lesson is too teacher-centred. However, some people may find this layout difficult to follow. A compromise layout can also work quite well: Stage Practice Procedure Aim To give pupils written and spoken practice in expressing their opinions, in agreeing and disagreeing. To encourage pupils to get to know someone better.

1. Each pupil writes down three ways in which s/he thinks they are different from 10 20 their partners. S/he does not show the minutes partner what s/he has written. 2. Both pupils tell each other about the Pair work differences and talk about where they were right or wrong, then they talk about the similarities.

(from Klippel F., Keep Talking, CUP, 1991)

This layout has several advantages. The name of the stage, the time and type of interaction all fit into the Stage column, and there is plenty of space left for detail in the Procedure column. Also, there is space in the Aim column to indicate the aim of particular stages and activities in the lesson. The lesson plan is also easy to follow for your tutor, reader, observer or inspector.

Implementing the lesson plan

Implementing the lesson plan is the most important and the most difficult phase of
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the planning cycle as the reality of the class often takes over. Unplanned events may occur which may hinder you from following the plan. After having spent so much time to produce the lesson plan, you will feel inclined to follow it closely, for fear of failing to achieve any of your stated aims. However, you should feel free to diverge from it when you have to deal with any unanticipated events or difficulties that you may encounter. It is often the case that you need to adjust or even change the original plan when the lesson is not going well. This will show your willingness to respond to the classroom situation as it develops, and you will be given credit for doing this. Think first! What reasons may teachers have to deviate from their lesson plans?

It is not a good idea to stick to your lesson plan, regardless of what happens in the classroom. Remeber that the original plan was designed with specific intentions in mind and based on your diagnosis of the learning needs of the pupils. However, you may need to make adjustments to the lesson at the implementation stage. Thomas Farrell (in Richards and Renandya, 2002: 34) suggests there are two broad reasons for adjustments at the implementation stage: (a) the lesson is going badly and the plan may not be likely to produce the desired outcomes, and (b) something unexpected happens during an early part of the lesson that necessitates improvisation (for instance interruptions due to loud noises, visits, etc.). Sometimes teachers respond to issues raised by the pupils that they perceive to be relevant for the other pupils; They may decide to discuss some unplanned event because they appreciate it to be timely for the class; They may change the procedure as a means of promoting the progress of the lesson; They may depart from the original plan when they understand they havent accommodated the pupils learning styles; They may eliminate some steps in the lesson plans in order to promote pupil involvement, especially if the pupils are not responding; They may change the lesson plan to encourage quiet pupils to participate more and to keep the more active students from dominating the class time.

If the lesson is going badly or not as planned, and immediate adjustments or improvisations are necessary, a student teacher may not be able to either recognise there is a problem, diagnose it, or think out the necessary adjustments quickly. This kind of knowledge is built up with experience. However, never be afraid to go back and clarify, reintroduce, check concepts again, or stop the class and repeat your instructions. As a general rule: prepare thoroughly, but in class, teach the learners, not the plan. This means that you should be prepared to respond to the learners and adapt what you have planned as you go, even to the extent of throwing the plan away if appropriate. The execution of a lesson involves a whole series of decisions that you are called to make as the lesson progresses. You need to show

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sensitivity to pupils and their difficulties and an ability to respond appropriately. A carefully thought out plan enables you to think logically through the content of the lesson before the lesson and prepare material and aids. It then informs your teaching in class whether you follow it completely or not. However, a teacher who is mainly concerned with following a lesson plan to the letter is unlikely to be responding to what is actually happening in class. On the other hand, if you do not follow your lesson plan, be prepared to explain afterwards why you decided to diverge from it. Do not be afraid to show flexibility, confidence and independence. When implementing the lesson plan, try to monitor two important issues: variety and pace. Variety of delivery and variety of activities will keep your pupils interested. Variety is ensured not only by the activities themselves but also by changes in their tempo (from fast to slow). The patterns of interaction also provide variety: individual tasks, pair work, group work, whole class interaction. The level of difficulty of the activities (from easy to more demanding) also contributes to variety and pupil involvement. Penny Ur (1996) suggests that the harder activities should be placed earlier in the lesson and the quieter before the lively ones. Pace is linked to the speed at which the activities progress, and lesson timing. In order for you to develop a sense of pace, Brown (1994) suggests a few guidelines: 1. Activities should not be too long or too short; 2. Various techniques for delivering the activities should flow together; 3. There should be clear transitions between each activity. Avoid racing through different activities just because they have been written in the lesson plan and always remember that you work for the benefit of the pupils.

6. Evaluating the plan Although experienced teachers already have a sense a what goes on well and what does not while they are teaching, after having implemented the lesson, everyone must evaluate the success or the failure of a lesson. Ur (1996) says that it is important to think after teaching a lesson and ask whether it was a good one or not, and why (p. 219). This form of reflection is crucial for self-development. Even if success and failure are relative terms, without evaluation the teacher has no way of assessing the success of the students or the adjustments that need to be made. Evaluation is thus important as it provides the opportunity to reflect on what has gone on in the lesson regarding the aims of the lesson, the success of the tasks, the appropriateness of the materials and, consequently, what changes need to be made in future lessons. The main criterion of evaluation (Ur, 1996: 220) is pupil learning. Even though it is difficult to judge how much learning has taken place, we can still make a good guess based on our knowledge of the class, the type of activities the class was engaged in or on some informal test activities that provide feedback on learning. Ur also offers (ibidem) a few criteria for evaluating lesson effectiveness: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. The class seemed to be learning the material well; The learners were engaging with the foreign language throughout; The learners were attentive all the time; The learners enjoyed the lesson and were motivated; The learners were active all throughout.

A few questions may also be helpful for you to reflect on after conducting a lesson

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Farell, 35): What do you think the pupils actually learned? What tasks were most successful? Least successful? Why? Did you finish the lesson on time? What changes (if any) will you make in your teaching and why (not)?

Another source of feedback on the lesson success are the pupils themselves. You can ask them questions at the end of the class, avoiding judgemental questions such as Did you enjoy the lesson and telling them that you need assistance with future lesson planning. Such questions can be: What do you think todays lesson was about? What part was easy? What part was difficult? What changes would you suggest the teacher make?

To conclude, carefully thought-out lesson plans are likely to result in more efficient use of instructional time and more successful teaching and learning opportunities. Remember also that teachers make choices before, during and after each lesson.


Timetabling involves planning and sequencing a whole series of lessons. The two fundamental questions that you need to answer are: What will I teach? What is the syllabus? How will the separate items be sequenced (what is the timetable)?

You need to consider a few more questions when you sequence a series of lessons. Here are some: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. How far ahead do I plan (in terms of lesson hours)? What do I need to include in your timetable? What factors do I need to consider when timetabling? How do I see the role of the textbook in timetabling? What problems can I anticipate and what solutions?

The syllabus provides a longer term overview. It lists the contents of a course and puts the separate items in an order. In Romania there is a national syllabus for each subject, but in other parts of the world the syllabus is given by the coursebook or decided by the teacher. Having a syllabus can be of great help as it sets out clearly what you as a teacher are expected to cover with your class. It can be a burden too, if it is unrealistic for your students in terms of what they need or are likely to achieve within a certain time.


Timetabling in Practice

The day-to-day, weekto week decisions about how to interpret a syllabus into a series of lessons are usually wholly or partly the teachers job. This process typically involves the teacher looking at the school syllabus or/and coursebook contents page and trying to map out how s/he will cover the content in the time that is available, selecting items from the syllabus and writing them into the appropriate spaces on a plan. Timetables are

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usually written out in advance (at the beginning of the school year, in this country). In most schools a head of the department or school principal may provide you with a timetable format. A time table enables other teachers to understand what work is being done in your class. The information it provides may be especially important if another teacher shares your class with you or takes over from you. The timetable should give others a clear idea of what work was planned for a particular lesson and also show how that fits into the overall shape of the week and the course. Here are some practical guidelines for timetabling: 1. Analyse the contents of the textbook unit and fill in an analysis sheet. 2. Review and note down separately: a) links with previous units work; b) your perceptions of the pupils needs (in terms of language needs, skills, recycling and remedial work). 3. Take a look at the next unit. 4. Using the information from 1 and 2 decide: a) what to teach, and what to omit; b) which material is useable for what (input and practice, skills and freer practice, warmers and homework, etc.); c) where you need to supplement with other material. 5. Fill in the immovable slots, e.g. tests, which may be given to you by the schools administration. 6. Allocate: a) input and skills, paying attention to the balance within and between lessons; b) relevant bits of textbook; c) homework (including balance and variety). 7. Review and make changes as appropriate. Think about when you teach vocabulary and pronunciation, what and how often you recycle, when you introduce new language receptively for later activation, when you set grammar preparation homework, etc.

Planning lessons is an operation that needs to take place before teaching can be effective, and it is entirely the teachers responsibility. However, as teachers have different styles of teaching, their style of planning will also be duffernt. You must always allow yourself flexibility to plan your own way, keeping in mind the yearly, term and unit plans. Also, allow yourself the flexibility of diverging from the lesson plan in response to the actuality of the classroom, in order to maximise teaching and learning opportunities. And yet, clearly thought-out lesson plans will maintain the attention of the students and increase the likelihood that they will be interested in the lesson. A clear plan will also maximise time and minimise confusion of whar is expected of the students, thus making classroom management easier (Farrell, idem, 37). Here are some of the principles that a teacher should follow: Take your pupils from dependence to independence. Build in your lesson plan, backward and forward links (revision, consolidation, skills

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work, presentation, practice, etc.) Formulate aims clearly. Be realistic: do not attempt to cover more than you can in the time you have. Limit your aims. Provide balance of input, skills work, controlled / freer / free practice activities. Provide variety of pace, focus, activity, intensity, interaction patterns. Ensure logical progression in the staging of activities. Make the plan layout clear and easily accessible. Provide enough detail to make the lesson reconstructable Include in the lesson ways of checking that your pupils have understood or can produce something of what you have introduced or practised.

Further Reading
Brown H. D., 1994. Teaching by Principles: An interactive approach to language pedagogy. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Regents Harmer, J., 2001. The Practice of English Language Teaching, Longman Richards, Jack C. and Renandya Willy A., 2002. Methodology in Language Teaching. Cambridge: CUP. Scrivener, J. 1994. Learning Teaching. Heinemann. Ur, Penny. 1996. A course in language teaching: Practice and Theory. Cambridge: CUP.

Anca Cehan