Are you an ESL teacher and need help planning an English conversation class? Well, you’ve certainly come to the right place! Keep on reading for all the details with our ESL speaking lesson planning template. We’ll give you the information you need to get started with ESL lesson plans.
ESL Speaking Lesson Plan Template: 7 Steps
- Set the context
- Deal with meaning
- Work on forms
- Pronunciation work
- Controlled practice
- Freer practice
- Homework (optional)
Those are the basic steps for making lesson plans. But, keep on reading for all the information you need about each one. Lesson plan templates can make our lives so much easier so pay close attention, okay?
Let’s get into the 7 steps you’ll want to follow when planning your ESL lesson plan that’s focused on speaking and conversation. The good news is that there are a ton of great resources out there to help us teach English learners.
Step #1: Set the Context in your Lesson Plans
At the beginning of the lesson, you need to set the context. You’ll want to do this because teaching language (grammar or vocabulary) without giving students a situation or reason to use it in isn’t that helpful.
However, by setting the context, it takes the content from just random new stuff into something far more concrete and useful.
You can set the context in a few different ways, but an excellent way is to get students to talk with their partner for a couple of minutes about a certain topic. It’s best if you give them a challenge of some kind such as, “Think of 5 reasons why…,” or, “Tell your partner about the last time you…”
Don’t control the language they use, but use it as kind of a warm-up to activate any of their previous knowledge. Then, elicit some answers from students at the end of this time.
An advanced level teaching move is to kind of steer the conversation into what you’re teaching that day. For example, pick out grammar and vocabulary that the students used which you’re going to teach.
Remember, for all lesson plans to set the context. This is by far the best way to make an ESL lesson more memorable. And of course, you’ll want to keep your learners’ needs in mind during this stage, along with all the others.
Step #2: Deal with Meaning during ESL Lesson Plans
Introduce the language (grammar or vocabulary) more explicitly at this point. But, don’t get all caught up in the nitty-gritty details of form, but instead focus on the bigger picture. When can you use this language and what does it actually mean if you say, “XYZ.”
For example, if I were introducing “too short/tall, etc.” I could show some pictures of people wearing clothes that don’t fit and ask what the problem is. They’re too short! It’s too small! (More ideas here: Clothes ESL Activities).
Or, if your lesson is about the simple past, you could get students to talk about some things they did on their summer vacation. They’ll obviously have to use verbs, and you could big picture highlight some of the past forms they use. Expect mistakes with the negative form, etc. but don’t look too closely at it yet.
It’s best if you can get students to work together on this instead of alone or as a whole class. Remember, it’s all about student-centred classrooms!
Be sure to ask some CCQ’s (Concept Checking Questions) at this point to see if students really “get it.”
A common mistake is to jump into the small details first without looking at the big picture. Don’t neglect this step. Along with context, they help students understand the meaning of the language and also to know when to use it.
Learn More about Student-Centered Language Teaching
Remember that if you want your students to improve their skills, you’ll need to put the focus back on your students. Learn more about this in the short video below:
Step #3 in an ESL Speaking Lesson Plan: Work on Forms
At this point, get explicit with the small details. Make sure you point out not only the positive, but also the negative and the question form if you’re introducing grammar. For vocabulary, be sure to give an example sentence so that students can see how it’s actually used.
Even though textbooks often have a little chart of whatever, I like to write it up on the board. Usually, I make a chart with almost all blank spots. Then, I get the student’s help to fill it in.
With languages, students have often seen the same things before, but just need a reminder of the correct way to do it. Keep your learners’ needs at the forefront here and give them some extra practice with things they may struggle with.
Step #4: Pronunciation Time in a Speaking Lesson Plan
I hate pronunciation drills so I don’t usually do this section of the lesson plan. However, they can be quite useful for some students and I will pull them out if there is a particular problem with a word or two. Students sometimes think they’re fun as well, depending on the country you’re teaching in.
And the good news is that there are lots of available resources if you’re not an expert in this area. Take a look on YouTube for some excellent videos. Of course, you’ll also want to provide lots of practice opportunities here.
If you’re teaching children, be sure to include them because it could be the first time they’ve ever heard this grammar construction or vocabulary. You want to start your students off by helping them say things correctly from the beginning, instead of having to unlearn poor pronunciation later.
Step #5 for ESL Lesson Plans: Controlled Practice
At this point, you want your students to get some time to use the language. Give them some very controlled practice using the target language. Things like fill in the blanks, matching worksheets, etc. Textbooks usually have very good sections related to this for whatever grammar point the chapter is focusing on.
Make sure you have some questions related to form and some related to meaning. The best ones combine the two. Always have students compare answers with a partner before checking together as a class. Often, they can catch mistakes at this level instead of just relying on the teacher.
Make sure your practice forces the students to use the target language of that lesson. This is obvious but it’s worth mentioning!
I try to think of this as a less is more kind of thing. Don’t hit students with a page of text and expect them to just power through it. Hit the highlights and then get to next step more quickly. However, don’t skip this step as there is certainly some middle ground here.
Step #6 for an ESL Speaking Lesson Plan: Freer Practice
The next step in this ESL lesson plan example is free practice.
Once students have the basics down, you can set an activity where they will be able to use the target language in a more creative way. Some of my favourite ESL speaking exercises are things like surveys, board games, discussion topics, or task-based learning.
This kind of practice could take just a few minutes, or an entire class (the next one if you have time in your schedule.
Monitor and offer feedback, but as long as students are getting their meaning across, don’t interfere too much. An error with meaning is far more serious than an error with form at this point so focus on that.
I’ll generally circulate around the classroom at this point, eavesdropping on the students. I carry around a paper and pen and write down the mistakes I hear. I’ll highlight the ones that I hear more than once with the whole class at the end of the activity.
If I’m going to be seeing students over the course of a semester, and they’re not super motivated to learn English, I”ll usually give the a ranking as a class for how the activity went. For example: okay, good, or needs improvement. If not good, then I’ll say something like, “I saw many students speaking Korean. Let’s work on using more English next time.” Or, “Remember that the goal is to improve your English. Please speak 1-1 with other students, not in a big group because this doesn’t really help you as much.”
And as teachers, we should keep in mind that the best designed games and activities will add to the learning experience, not distract from it. There are plenty of resources out there for this stage so get creative and have some fun with your students!
Step #7: Review/Homework (Optional)
This next step really depends on where you’re teaching and how much time you have in the class. If I have a few extra minutes to kill at the end of a lesson, I’ll usually have a little ESL review activity or game that I can use. It’s a nice way to round out the lesson and help students consolidate what they’ve learned in the way of grammar or vocabulary.
Or, I may assign some sort of homework. Perhaps a small writing assignment, making a video, doing some extra practice with forms, etc. It really depends on what kind of class you’re teaching, but for my university courses, there was generally a little bit of homework after every class.
Details about this ESL Lesson Plan Template
Whenever I talk to people who are preparing a lesson plan or a demo lesson in order to get ready for an ESL teaching job interview, I’m always surprised that many people really have no idea how to plan a lesson. It’s not difficult, but surprisingly, there just aren’t that many frameworks that are explained clearly in teacher’s guides or online.
I Didn’t Know How to Make an ESL Lesson plan Either
I was pretty clueless too, until I took the CELTA and the DELTA where my trainers beat this ESL speaking lesson plan template into my head such that I could basically recite it in my sleep. As a kind of aside, if you haven’t taken something like the Celta or other English training course, I highly recommend doing so.
And it’s not just helpful for ESL lesson plans templates. I picked up a ton of other teaching tips too.
What’s your Objective? “Speaking” isn’t Enough
A short disclaimer. “Speaking” is not enough of a lesson plan objective in itself. You need to put it together with something else, perhaps a grammar point or some new vocabulary.
You could also use a listening or reading as the basis for speaking. For this lesson, I’ll assume that you’re introducing some grammar or vocabulary. This is pretty common for most textbooks that you’ll be teaching from, so it’s not really a stretch.
With any sort of education, you’ll want to have a goal in mind, or something that students should be learning. This certainly isn’t specific to ESL.
You just have to follow these 6 easy steps for your ESL lesson plan template for adults.
Will this Lesson Plan Work for Kids?
This ESL lesson planner is for adult students. Will it work with children? Kind of, with some modifications.
Most kids are not great at the, “Talk 1-1 with your partner for five minutes kind of thing.” It usually devolves into chaos. So, you’ll usually have to incorporate more whole class activities and things like chants or singing. However, it’s not so difficult to adapt ESL lesson plan templates for adults to fit kids classes. The basic categories and stages are often much the same.
ESL Lesson Plan Templates
If you’re looking for more templates for ESL lessons beyond just speaking, then you’ll want to check these articles out:
It’s ESL lesson plan examples, templates and more! Basically, just about everything you’re going to need to get started with teaching English, the more organized way. Your ESL lessons will be better!
Where Can I See Some ESL Lesson Plan Samples?
Okay, so we’ve talked theory and given you an overview of everything, but where can you actually see an ESL sample lesson plan? Right here!
I’m going to share with you 6 ESL conversation lesson plans that I’ve used with my own students while teaching in South Korean universities. Find them here:
What is a Lesson Plan Template?
A lesson plan template is a framework that you can use to plan all future lessons that fit within that category. You may want to have a template for planning an ESL speaking lesson which will look quite different from a lesson designed to teach students’ some specific sport skill.
What are the Steps in a Lesson Plan?
No matter the lesson, there are some steps to follow when making a lesson plan:
- Choose some learning goals
- Pick a topic or context
- Think about students’ needs and skills
- Choose a teaching approach or method
- Select some resources
- Consider how you will assess the students
If you take a look at most textbooks, they also follow a similar path for their ESL lessons.
What is a 5 Step Lesson Plan?
A 5 step lesson plan can help students understand and learn new material. The steps are as follows:
- Anticipatory set
- Introducing new material
- Guided practice
- Independent practice
It’s lesson planning made easy!
Need more Ideas for ESL Speaking Classes?
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 100 Pages - 05/30/2015 (Publication Date)
If you teach conversation, or speaking classes, then you probably need lots of ideas for games or activities you can use. It’s best to mix things up with a variety of classroom activities because it keeps things fresh for you, as well as the students.
If this is the case for you, then you’ll need to check out this book on Amazon: 39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities: For Teenagers and Adults.
You can get the book in both digital and print formats. The (very cheap!) digital copy can be read on any device. Just download the free Kindle reading app and check out the book on your Smartphone, tablet, Kindle, Mac, or PC.
It’s super easy to have almost 40 top-quality ESL activities and games right at your fingertips. Keep a copy on your bookshelf for a quick reference, or refer to the copy on your phone for lesson planning at your favourite coffee shop.
Check out the book on Amazon today, but only if you want to make lesson planning easier with one of the best teaching resources:
What about a Demo Lesson Plan Template?
It’s entirely normal, especially when applying for a university job to have to do a teaching demo. Makes sense, right? Employers want to know how good of a teacher you are, and the best way to judge this is to see you in action.
Of course, this is quite stressful and you’ll want to put on a good performance so that you can get the job. So, what should you do in the way of a demo lesson plan? They’ll most often want to see a demo of an ESL speaking lesson plan.
The best advice I can give you is to stick with a sample lesson plan that I’ve described above (context, meaning, forms, pronunciation, practice, follow-up/homework). If you only have 10-15 minutes, you won’t be able to cover all this.
So, I suggest that you plan the entire lesson, but only do one part of it. For example, meaning and forms. First, mention what you’d do to set the context, get into your “teaching” and at the end of your allotted time, mention what you’ll do for practice and a homework suggestion.
Does that make sense? And of course, print off your entire lesson plan for each person that will be at the interview so they can follow along with your plan.
Can I Follow the Textbook instead of Making a TEFL Lesson Plan?
- Cambridge University Press
- Richards, Jack C. (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 160 Pages - 09/12/2011 (Publication Date) - Cambridge University Press (Publisher)
If you have a 4-skills ESL textbook of some kind, take a close look at it. You’ll often find that it follows much the same teaching plan template as described above. There will be some sort of lead-in activity to set the context. Then, there will be some work with meaning and forms. After that, you’ll find controlled practice and then free practice. Finally, there may be review or a suggestion for homework.
If you’re new to teaching or don’t have a ton of time to plan lessons, then following the textbook like this is quite a good strategy. Just keep in mind this overarching framework and be sure not to skip steps, especially the meaning and controlled practice part.
For some of my favourite ESL textbooks that are quite easy to use in terms of not having to make an entire ESL speaking lesson plan from scratch each day, you’ll want to check out the following:
What is PPP Lesson Plan?
PPP represents presentation, practice and production and is a common type of ESL lesson plan. It roughly follow the deductive approach. The language teacher presents the target language (grammar or vocabulary) and then students practice and produce the language through controlled activities that move to freer activities.
Have your Say about this ESL Conversation Class Lesson Plan Template
Is it a solid lesson plan template, or are there other steps you follow when planning your lessons. Do you have any resources for how to create ESL lesson plans? Leave us a comment and let know know what you think. We’d love to hear from.
Also be sure to give this article a share on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. It’ll help other teachers, like yourself find this useful teaching resource.
Last update on 2020-04-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API