What are ESL Lesson Plans and Why do I Need Them?

Lesson planning is vital when it comes to teaching ESL both online and in the classroom. Lesson planning is essential for creating a lesson’s framework and structuring its content. It may be easy as an experienced and qualified teacher to walk into a classroom and completely wing it! But, you must ask yourself – are your students getting the full benefit from their 60 minutes. The answer is, definitely not! Fortunately, there are some great websites, where you can find high-quality free ESL lesson plans.

There are a million and one ways to prepare for your lessons using different techniques. However, if you are a newly qualified teacher and you are asking yourself how to make a lesson plan, then following the PPP method is a good place to start. In short, the PPP method is Presentation, Practice, and Production. Simply put, for those of you who may not know, the teacher presents the target language and then allows students to practice it through very controlled activities.

Eventually, when you have a bit of experience under your belt you will start to create your own techniques and methods. You’ll be able to structure the lessons that suit you most as a teacher. Creativity is so essential when teaching. However, we all need to have the basics under our belt and want to have access to materials to help build the perfect lesson plans easier and more efficiently. This is why we love lesson planning guides! In this blog, we’ll go through the benefits of lesson plans, what we offer to our students and how to get free lesson planning resources from the web.

The Benefits of ESL Lesson Plans

Creating a lesson plan, without a doubt, is key! There are a large number of benefits that come with it. Here are our top three:

1. Timing

​​A lesson plan enables the teacher to keep track of time in the class and also allows time to make appropriate adjustments throughout the class (if needed). As a teacher, it is not nice to look at the clock to realize that you have only completed the first stage of the lesson. Alternatively, look at the clock with the lesson completed and you still have 20 minutes to go.

Top Tip: Regardless of lesson plans, always have a couple of activities/games up your sleeve in case you are ever twiddling your thumbs.

2. Feeling prepared

Preparing a lesson plan allows the teacher to feel prepared. This leaves the teacher feeling at ease and stress-free. The last thing you want is to walk into a classroom looking like a headless chicken.

Top Tip: Although a lesson plan gives a class structure, it’s crucial to remember that things don’t always go as planned in the classroom. You should allow yourself a little flexibility.

3. Self-improvement

Whether you are creating a lesson plan for adults or a lesson plan for young learners, you are allowing yourself to constantly improve. As well as taking the time to prepare the lesson, you should take the time to evaluate the lesson afterward. Look at what worked well and look at what didn’t. Learn from your mistakes and create a better lesson plan the next time! Here at the TEFL Institute, we look at mistakes as opportunities to get even better. Every. Single. Time.

Top Tip: Take the time to reflect on your lessons on a daily basis. It will only take you five minutes after each class. This is much easier than leaving it to build up to a Friday when all you want to do is watch your favorite Netflix show and switch off for the evening.

esl lesson

The TEFL Institute Resources as a Student

Don’t forget that as part of the Student Alumni here at the TEFL Institute, you have access to an array of guides, materials, and resources that will help you create the perfect lesson plan. We have several guides that are included as part of some courses. Our personal favorite is the Warmers, Fillers, and Coolers guide. This is a handy little resource that includes activities to use if you have time on your hands. We like to have this book up our sleeves at all times!

We also have a lesson planning guide that will guide you through building the perfect lesson plan, as well as a grammar guide to help with those sticky Advanced English class questions we all dread.

Another fantastic resource is our tutor support team. Once you have enrolled in any of our courses, you will be assigned a personal tutor. Our tutors are industry experts and are more than happy to help you with any questions that you have. They know all the ins and outs of creating ESL lesson plans and sometimes they even host free webinars where they share all their wisdom. Check out all our webinars on our YouTube channel.

Free ESL Lesson Plans

Even if you know how to design lesson plans, having access to free ready-made lesson plans to mix things up in class and save time is a plus. They can be especially beneficial to freelance teachers who are teaching online or starting their own business, as developing a full curriculum as well as hundreds of lesson plans from scratch can take time.

On top of this, watching what other teachers are doing in their classes can be beneficial to all teachers. Find below our favorite websites that have free ESL lesson plans, as well as activity ideas and printable resources to go along with them.

  1. Online English Expert
  2. ISLCollective
  3. Online English Expert
  4. Busy Teacher
  5. Perfect English Grammar
  6. The British Council

These specific websites offer an array of teaching resources including lesson plans, printable worksheets, Audio and visual content. Most importantly, they cover the four key areas of teaching English – Reading, listening, writing, and speaking.

Online class


Q: Where can I get free lesson plans?

There are huge amounts of free resources on the web. Googling “Free Lesson Plans” on the web will get you over 2 billion results! Getting free lesson plans is easy, but getting the swans among the ducklings is a little harder. Read our blog above to see the ones that we love most!

Q: How do I do ESL lesson planning?

There is no straightforward answer to this question. As mentioned above, there are lots of different methods and structures to ESL Lesson plans. However, if you are struggling and this is the start of your TEFL journey, we suggest using the PPP method (Presentation, Practice, Production)

Q: What should an ESL lesson plan look like?

An aim or statement of learning goals should be included in your lesson plan: The core of your lesson plan is your objectives. Keep all of your materials in one place, labeled for your class, and have extras on hand. Include any links or media you’ll need for your class, as well as any materials you’ll require.

Q: How do you structure an ESL lesson plan?

The first stage of a lesson plan is the presentation of the target language. This is where the lesson might look the most traditional. Meaning that the teacher spends most of their time here focusing on using mime, gesture, realia, and pictures to explain the target language. The teacher then will use individual and choral drilling (pronunciation and repetition) to get the students practicing the target language. After this, the teacher will write the target language on the board (or zoom whiteboard) so the students can see the target language written. This stage is all about accuracy! The teacher should make time here for error correction

The second stage of the lesson plan is the Practice stage. This involves the teacher dividing their students into pairs. Where they can use exercises such as dialogues, role-plays, worksheets. The main aim of the game here is to have students conversing or working in pairs together discussing their answers. The main role of the teacher here is to monitor the students while they practice. Make sure to not correct too much that you disrupt the flow of the students. We strive for a balance of fluency and accuracy at this second stage.

The third and final stage of the lesson plan is the Production stage. Some teachers deem this stage of the lesson the most important. The Production stage is all about fluency, communication, and group work. A group activity for this part is typically prepared by the teacher. An example of a group activity might look like; Find someone Who, a Chain Story, a Competition, Pictionary, or Charades. It is normally a fun activity that gets the class up and moving around. The main focus of this stage is Fluency. The teacher doesn’t correct the students but focuses on the activity to keep flowing. As long as the students are using the target language (even though they might be making mistakes) that is all that matters!

Q: What should be taught in a lesson plan?

A lesson plan is not subject-specific. One thing’s for sure – you should outline your objective before building a lesson plan. The main areas of English learning are vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation.

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