Lesson planning: are you solid, or not so much? If not, then have a quick read through of this ESL reading lesson plan template. It also works very well for listening lessons.
Reading skills are very important for our students. This lesson plan will help your students improve their reading fluency, as well as reading comprehension. Read more for all the details.
I Had No Idea about Planning a Reading Lesson Plan 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 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.
5 Steps for your ESL Lesson Plan
There are a few distinct steps you can follow when teaching reading skills. Although the reading passage changes, the steps do not!
Step #1: Set the Context
Context is everything when learning a language. 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.
To start you lesson off, you’ll need to do this, 100% of the time. A great teacher never forgets this!
ALWAYS help your students by providing as much context as possible either by activating prior knowledge (works well with reading or listening lessons). You can also give 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 that he 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. This is 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. Instead, they just skim or scan the page 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.
If you want to give your students a little quiz to test their comprehension, you may wish to do this story timeline activity.
Step #5: Application
In this ESL 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).
Optional: Post-Reading Activities
You may wish to include some post-reading activities into your classes. These can extend an hour long class into a two-hour one for example. Or, you may wish to do it over two classes. Some of the things you can do with your students are to have them think more deeply about the characters or plot.
Or, you may want them to:
- Find examples of a certain part of speech (10 adverbs)
- Search for examples of a certain grammar point (simple past)
- Look for metaphors and similes
- Do some worksheets
- Watch some videos about the same topic
- Listen to some related songs
- Something fun (get creative!)
You can learn more about this here: Post-Reading Activities for English Learners.
Can I Adapt this ESL Lesson Plan Template for my Own Purposes?
Isn’t it a good idea to make a lesson plan my own? Maybe, but maybe not.
Of course you can feel free to do whatever you want in your own classes (as long as it’s okay with the school). Some things may work for you, while others may not.
That said, if you’re just starting out, it can be valuable to stick pretty closely to the steps in this lesson plan sample. It’s a proven system that many, many teachers around the world have been using for years and is taught in the CELTA/DELTA courses. It’s backed by some solid education theory about learning languages.
Once you get a bit more experience, then consider adapting it to your own style, section by section. You know what works best for you, and your students. It’s a big world out there and no two students are the same! The best teachers can adapt.
Does this Style of ESL Reading Lesson Work for Any Level?
That’s another great question! This template assumes that your students have a basic level of English reading, and are able to do things like compare answers with their partner. It’s best for at least high beginners, and then can work on through up to advanced level students.
For students who are struggling with basic reading skill or vocabulary, you’ll want to focus on that first before worrying too much about reading comprehension.
Where Can I Get News Articles?
If you want to design your own reading lesson plan, then you’ll need to start with an article of some kind. It can be difficult to find good materials that are appropriate for the level of your students. This is particularly true if you teach beginners.
The good news is that there are lots of online resources out there with plenty of good stuff. Graded readings, comprehension questions, listening exercises and more awesome stuff. They’ve done the hard work of content development for you, in making the news into something your ESL students can read.
You can check out my top picks here: The Top ESL News Article Websites.
Do You Like this ESL 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. It can be difficult for students if you jump right into the heart of the lesson. Instead, ease them into English with a fun activity.
The good news is that the book is available in both print and digital formats. You can keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office as a handy reference. Or, take a copy with you on your phone for lesson plans on the go.
Check it out for yourself over on Amazon:
Learn More about How to Teach Reading
Check out this short video below for even more ideas on the steps to follow when teaching reading. Lesson plans? No problem.
Have your Say about Planning an ESL Reading Lesson
Do you have any tips or tricks for an ESL lesson plan template? Or, tips for ESL lesson plans in general? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.
And be sure to contact us if you have any questions about teaching English.
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