Are you having trouble creating advanced lesson plans for ESL students? Check out our tips to keep your students engaged and hungry for new learning!
No matter how excellent or experienced you are in teaching English, there are still instances where you get the school jitters. You can feel these jitters even more when it is your first day teaching EFL students with an advanced grasp on the language. It can be a little scary, but with proper preparation, everything will fall into place.
Read on and get valuable tips!
Things to Consider When Making Advanced Lesson Plans for ESL Students
First and foremost, you have to consider your audience. You have to know them. Are you teaching beginners? Certainly you can’t put Business English in your plan. Are you teaching advanced ESL learners? Then perhaps you can incorporate complex topics such as health, technology, politics, international affair, pop culture, to name a few. Remember, you can only make your students interested in the lessons if the topics are relevant to them. To make them keen and coming back for more, you better keep the following tips in mind.
Stick with the traditional ESL teaching models, but give it your own unique touch.
Many ESL teachers are looking for ways to make their teaching approach unique and interesting. Times have changed, and most believe that shifting to modern ways are keys to making the students learn. However, while it sounds promising, you should never ditch the old ways, especially the 3P method, a well-established method that you can use especially if you don’t know where to start. First, presentation. Second, practice. Third, production. These is a proven and tested method which you can use as your guide while you are putting your own twist and turns to your teaching methodology.
When doing so, you have to find the balance between creativity and practicality. Yes, being creative in building advanced lesson plans for ESL students is highly encouraged, but you should keep in mind not to totally reinvent the wheel.
Tired of the 3P method? Give Task-Based Teaching a try! Instead of Presentation, Practice, Production, design your lesson around Pre-task, Task, Planning & Report, Analysis, and Language Needs practice.
Keep the students active and engaged by throwing in some games.
Is there anything more disappointing for a teacher than seeing students dozing off? Learning could easily get boring when the students have to sit all day and listen to the teacher talking non-stop. Don’t worry. It’s normal to see students feeling bored or with those headlights looks on their faces once in a while. But if it happens every day, then you should definitely step up and find ways to fix the issue.
To get their mind up and running, include some activities in your lesson plan that would inspire them to move around, to get up and to mingle with you and their fellow students. Let’s say for instance, a role play. Let them learn from their peers as well. Because remember, even if you are teaching a class of adult ESL learners, you’ve got to get them moving around and engaging with other people. And throwing off some fun and interesting games is one of the coolest way to do that.
Seven Learning Topics You Can Include in Your ESL Lesson Plans
Once you’ve established what steps to take in capturing the attention of your students, you can then proceed to the topics. The subjects must be a) relevant to the skills you want them to develop, and b) of interest to your students.
As previously mentioned, the topics you plan to discuss will depend on the kind of students you have. You also need to consider if your school has designated topics or materials that you need to follow and use, so that you can give them some tweaks without haeding too far away from your target subjects. However, if you want to ensure you’d get most of your students’ attention, you might want to consider the following moves:
Ask your students about interesting topics as examples of what they can discuss.
Is there anyone out there who doesn’t have a dream vacation? Kids and adults alike love to travel. This topic, according to studies, is one of the most interesting subjects that students love to talk about, regardless of their age, level, and nationalities. In this aspect, the main goal is to develop your students’ speaking skills. You can ask them WH questions such as who, what, when, where, and why, with regards to their dream vacation. Give them time to prepare their answers then ask them to have a chat with their fellow students about their dream vacation. Ensure that they are mingling around and speaking to as many as they can during this particular learning session.
Examples of interesting topics to discuss include: past vacations, dreams, ideal jobs, the perfect school, and the best pet. For more advanced topics, have students discuss the best place for a homestay, or what makes a good teacher. For really advanced students, get them to discuss performance-enhancing drugs at the Olympics, or whether guns should be legal/illegal!
Most of all, let your students guide you in what topics to choose. The more you get to know them, the more you will understand the things they are interested in. Allow students to propose topics for the next class, and then design a lesson around that. Above all, student engagement is key.
Engaged your students in friendly competitions.
The good thing about most ESL students is that they love to engage in activities that challenges what they already know. But of course, they will also weigh in the benefits that they can get from participating in competitions. For instance, if you want them to feel more determined in developing their writing skills, you have to give them added motivation. Let’s say for instance, the article written by the winning student would be published in a famous magazine or website.
In this activity, you can also use the topic that you’ve discussed previously such as their dream vacation. Since they already talked about the topic, it would be easier for them to get more creative in their writing. You can also throw in some questions as well as some specifics like number of words, time to finish, and the likes.
Get them reading while enhancing their imagination and creativity.
In this lesson, you can pick a travel article. However, note that you would only provide your students with the middle part. Encourage them to make their own introductions and conclusions. As much as possible, ask them to think that they are writing their “own” experience. After completing the travel article, ask them some questions about the finished article. Then, make them exchange their papers with other students and ask them to read the outputs of others and then prepare a set of questions for each one as well.
The good thing is, you can also tweak this activity if your goal is to improve your students’ listening skill. There would only be minor changes to the drill. Instead of giving them print outs, provide your student with an audio recording about a particular travel story. Let them listen on the middle part only and encourage them to record their own introductions and conclusions. Aside from the listening skills, you are also helping them improve their speaking skills.
Improve their vocabulary and grammar by playing a game of continuity – and develop on these.
Who said advanced lesson plans for ESL students have to be dull? There are plenty of activities that you and your students can do to improve grammar without stressing them out. One of the activities you can include in your lesson plan is to have your students sit in a circle. You can start the conversation by saying, “If I went to Japan, I’d eat lots of sushi.” Have your student continue the story by saying, “If I ate lots of sushi, I’d…” The next one will continue the sequence. You get the picture. It’s a fun game, and you’ll never know what might come next!
However, it’s a very simple game. Remember, activities like these may be fun for a short while, but to make them truly engaging you need to develop on them. Get your students to make a list of everything they can remember from this simple game, then have them prepare a 4-day tour of Japan that experiences as many of these ideas as possible. Extend the activity by introducing specific regions of Japan, or another country, and have students make a presentation on the ideas they come up with. Have them discuss why they chose the ones they did, and what a foreigner might be familiar with if they were playing the same game.
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