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Five top tips for writing a CELTA lesson plan

Updated: Jan 18

Five top tips for writing a CELTA lesson plan
Lesson planning on CELTA doesn't need to take forever!

When we meet people at the end of their CELTA courses, one of the comments they often make is that they didn't realise just how much time lesson planning would take. Lesson planning is a new skill for many trainee teachers and it's one that takes some time to learn. Here are some ideas that might make it a bit easier!

1. Plan backwards

Start at the end! Think about what you want students to be doing in the final stage of the lesson. Then think about what they will need to be able to do this. What vocabulary or grammar will they need to know to do this final activity? What context will they need? What information about the theme and setting might be useful? Will they need an example or a model of what they need to do in the final task? If you're worried that you won't finish your lesson in the 40 or 45 minutes you've been allotted and that you have overplanned, have a look at the plan and ask yourself which activities aren't necessary in order to help students achieve that final stage.

2. Remember the lesson aim

A reading lesson should centre around a reading text. A grammar lesson should mainly be about grammar. Examine your lesson plan from the point of view of your main aim. Are you really focusing on it? Maybe you have a lovely speaking activity that you're really looking forward to and have spent a lot of time preparing, but if it's not relevant to the lesson aim, is it actually necessary?

3. Prepare to be flexible

Lessons are unpredictable, even for experienced teachers. Students can take a lot longer to complete a task than you expect. Equally, they can finish a task that you thought would take a long time in just a few minutes. The only way to be ready for this is to be ready to be flexible. Have an extra activity in your back pocket that you can use if you have extra time,. Look through your lesson plan and decide in advance which activity you could leave out or shorten if things are taking longer than expected.

4. Make it varied

Doing the same thing for a long time is boring. People get distracted and find it difficult to pay attention. A lesson is the same. Plan for variety. There are lots of ways of introducing variety into a lesson. If students do one task in pairs, maybe they can do the next task in groups of three, or maybe they can work with another partner. If students do a few paper-based tasks in a row, maybe they could do a task that involves standing up and mingling. If the teacher is eliciting and clarifying language at the whiteboard at one stage, the students could be doing most of the speaking in the next stage.

5. Do it yourself!

One of the best tips for planning is to do the things you expect students to do. If it's a listening lesson - listen to what you'll be playing for the students while reading the questions they'll have to answer. If it's a grammar lesson, complete the grammar exercises yourself. Ask yourself why each answer is correct. The more familiar you are with the tasks the students have to do, the better you'll be able to answer their questions or cope with any difficulties they have.

Dr Connor O'Donoghue hails from Ireland and he started teaching English as a foreign language in Poland in 2003 and he became a CELTA trainer in 2008. He has taught and trained in Ireland, the UK, France, Italy, Slovenia, Macedonia, Poland, Russia, Kazakhstan and Vietnam. Connor also holds a Masters and a PhD in Education from Trinity College in Dublin. He has previously managed large teacher training centres in Vietnam and in London before founding DC Teacher Training.


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