Published on January 12th, 2016 | by tefl


How to prepare a TEFL Lesson Plan

During your time practicing and prepping lessons plans as a student, you may have noticed that most schools and universities will supply their own blank lesson plans on school stationery, and they usually provide a great rough outline of what you can expect when setting up your lessons.  However, in this article we will be explaining how to build your own from scratch, adapt the plan as time goes on, and provide a few tips on what you can do to make the most of your available teaching time.

The Three Ps

An ESL lesson plan can be easily separated into three key stages: presentation, practice, and production.   If we are to use the example of a standard forty-five minute session, the presentation of the lesson would come first and should last about fifteen minutes, or one-third of your lesson time.  The presentation of lesson should include first a brief overview, followed by explanation. Practice is the next step, in which your pupils put into practice what they have just learned from your presentation, and many TEFL teachers use a combination of book, group, and game exercises in order to engage their students.  Reserve the last five to ten minutes at the end of the lesson for your production time and give a brief recap of the day’s lesson as well as any written or oral quizzes.

If you start with these three pillars as the outline to your lesson plan, planning the TEFL lesson becomes far easier.  You will obviously want to flesh out each step for each individual lesson, making note of important points you want to make during the lesson and planning out your activities and exercises for your students in advance.


As mentioned previously, the presentation stage consists of the TEFL teacher introducing and teaching the lesson the students are required to master.  Here are a few key points that any teacher should consider when writing the presentation stage of a TEFL lesson plan:

  • Can you incorporate any aids into the presentation? While it heavily depends on the subject matter you may want to consider if there are any visual or auditory aids that may help show what is being taught, such as videos, audio tracks, or other written works not supplied by the school.
  • How will you motivate your students? It’s important to motivate your class in the presentation stage, as you want them to be engaged and learning, but more importantly able to apply the lesson themselves afterwards.
  • Do you have a plan B? Sometimes you will have the scenario arise in which you’ve just given a lesson and the majority of your students do not seem to understand, and it happens to every TEFL teacher at some point.  Sometimes it’s helpful in this case to move along to the practice stage, allowing you to be free to walk around and help each student with their questions individually.  It’s important to recognise you may discourage your students if you continue to press forward on a subject until they understand, and demotivating.



The Practice stage consists of activities and exercises planned around the lesson in order to add to students’ comprehension.    You will want to plan this stage with the following in mind:

  • Are you asking the right questions? Asking questions is a great way to check understanding, but make sure you aren’t falling into a trap of asking the “yes or no” variety.  Always check that the questions you ask require demonstration of understanding from the student, with answers that require them to tell, explain, or show.
  • Are you giving too much guidance? While students are practicing both individual and group exercises in this stage of your lesson plan, it’s your job as a TEFL teacher to be actively involved, checking for understanding, and guiding students who may be lagging behind the rest of the class.  Yet it’s important to remember that it is also the role of a teacher to inspire confidence in their students to take the lesson and apply it themselves.
  • How will you test your students’ understanding of the lesson? The exercises and activities can range from quizzes, written assignments, sentence transformations, substitution drills, listening activities, roleplay games and so on, and will need to fit in with your lesson’s objective.


In the final stage lesson activities are wrapped up as the TEFL teacher gives a brief recap of the day’s lesson along with any oral or written quizzes planned to check for understanding. Here are a few points to consider:

  • Did you cover everything? The production stage is a great time to briefly go through your lesson plan and check for anything left out, as well as any parting notes you may have set up.  Using your lesson plan should give you a strong and effective recap on closing.
  • Did you test for understanding? This will vary from teacher to teacher and lesson to lesson, but oftentimes there might be a question session at the end of a lesson where the students are required to perform what they’ve learned verbally, or a quiz in written form.  It’s important to gauge whether or not the lesson was effective so you can make any adjustments to your plan later.

Revising Lesson Plans

Lesson plans are best thought of as a work in progress; as you gain more experience and insight as a TEFL teacher your methods will evolve, and as such your lesson plans should evolve with you.   Don’t be afraid to add notes into the margins of your plans as you go for future revision.  Some helpful points to consider:

  • Was the lesson interesting and were the students engaged?
  • Was there a clear objective and did I stick to it?
  • Did the class understand the lesson?
  • Were the students able to relate to the lesson through planned activities or exercises?
  • Did the students perform to expectations during quizzes and exams?
  • Was it motivational?

As you begin to test the waters with any new lesson plan, you will inevitably find that some techniques work and some do not, and what works for one of your classes or students may not work for the rest.  It’s important to look at building a solid TEFL lesson plan as your OWN lesson, one that you will master overtime.  By making notes, you can make small tweaks to your lessons over time.

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