I Had No Idea, too
I’m always surprised when I get reader questions or talk to people preparing for their upcoming ESL job interviews that they don’t know how to make a basic lesson plan. But, it’s not so crazy I guess and I actually had no system of any sort until I took the CELTA course a few years back. The ESL reading lesson plan that I’m going to share with you today is modelled after that and it can provide you with a solid foundation upon which to expand and adjust to suit the needs of your own classes.
(If your classes are focused on speaking, check out this ESL Speaking Lesson Plan Template).
There are five basic ESL lesson plan steps for a class focused on reading that I’ll describe below.
Without Further Ado, the 5 Steps for your ESL Lesson Plan:
Step #1: Set the Context
Context is everything when learning a language and without it, our students are just learning random bits of grammar and vocabulary but they don’t have a way to put it together into a cohesive system within their brains. ALWAYS help your students by providing as much context as possible either by activating prior knowledge (works well with reading or listening lessons) or by giving your students situations in which they can use the language (vocabulary or grammar lessons).
An easy way to do this in a reading or listening lesson is have students talk together for a couple minutes about something. During the CELTA course, I had this story about a man who was living in an airport. I was lucky, perhaps, in that it was something that the students were really interested in! In order to set the context, I had students talk about five things that people do when they have to wait in the airport for a long time (sleep/watch TV/eat + drink, etc.).
Step #2: Pre-Reading Task
This is where you have students do something related to the reading. You can teach/have students review some of the key vocabulary in the passage, or do something like a prediction task.
In the case I mentioned previously, I told my students that they were going to read a story about a guy who lived in an airport for 17 years and only left eventually because he got sick and had to go to the hospital. The students had to guess why they think he stayed there so long.
I elicited five answers and wrote them on the board to lead into the step #3, making sure that one of the answers was the correct one.
Step #3: Gist Reading Task
You should always have students read for gist because it gets them out of the extremely bad habit they often have of reading every single word in excruciating detail. When people read in their first language, they never read all the words and instead just skim to look for the information they need. You need to help your students get practice doing this in English. It’s also useful if they’re doing any sort of English examinations because they often contain quite long reading passages which students have to digest in a limited amount of time. It can really help them if you teach them how to read and only look for specific information.
For the airport example, I gave students only two minutes and they had to quickly skim through the passage to find out why the man stayed in the airport for so long.Always have students compare answers with each other and then check as a class. But, this is a gist reading task so give the correct answer but do NOT go into any sort of depth. Students will have another chance in the next task to catch all the nuances of the passage.
Step #4: Main Reading Task
This is where students take a more detailed look at the reading and can read more slowly and carefully. You can give them some short answer, True/False questions, etc. However, at this stage I try to break students of another bad habit: always looking at their cell-phone dictionaries. I tell them that they can use it only one time, but otherwise they can just guess and use the surrounding context to give them some clues.
Students compare answers with a partner and then you can check together as a class. You can go into a bit more depth with explanations at this stage if necessary.
Step #5: Application
In this ESL reading lesson plan stage, students take the ideas and go a bit deeper with them. For the airport example, I had students work together with a partner to think of five interesting questions that they’d ask the man if they had the chance to meet him in person.
After that, I had one person pretend to be a journalist while the other one had to be the man in the airport. The journalist conducted an interview and made sure to ask a few follow-up questions as well.
I finished off the lesson by talking about what eventually happened to the man (I looked it up on the Internet).
Like this ESL Reading Lesson Plan Template?
You’ll probably enjoy this book as well: 39 ESL Warm-Ups for Teenagers and Adults. Get your classes started off on the right foot with these low-prep activities and games that your students will love.