1. Formal and Informal Planning
Before we go into a lesson it helps to be clear about exactly what you want to do. As a general rule: prepare thoroughly, but in class, teach the learners-not the plan. This means that you should be prepared to respond to the learners and adapt what we have planned as you go, even to extent of throwing the plan away if appropriate.
The remainder of this section looks at three different approches to lesson planning a detailed formal plan (as used on training courses or when a supervisor or inspector visits), a detailed informal plan, and brief note of a running order for activities.
a. Formal Plan
A formal lesson plan often contain two parts: (1) an outline of the procedure of the lesson (a description of the activities, their order and predicted timing) and (2) background information (ie aims for the lesson, target language, material used, predicted problems, etc)
b. Informal Plan: Anna’s lesson
The aim of this part of the section is to let you observe an experienced teacher preparing a lesson. Although her situation will be different from yours, it may be useful to see the kind of things she considers and the reasons for some her decisions.
c. A Brief ‘running order’
The simplest type of lesson plan, and one used by many teachers, is a basic ‘running order’ of activities, perhaps with a note of specific language points or materials that will be used. This plan has the advantage of being something you can do on the bus in to work or on the back of an envelope In the staff room five minutes before going into class!.
For every lesson you teach, and for every activity within that lesson, it is useful to be able to state what the aims are. It is important to separate mentally (a) the material you use; (b) the activities that will be done; (c) the teaching point (ie the language skills or systems that the lesson will work on); (d) the topic or contexts that will be used;(e) the aims of the lesson.
You may decide the aims of a lesson before you teach it. You may realize what they are while you are teaching. It may be that you are only clear about what was achieved after the lesson has finished.
The teacher may have aims of various kinds for actual running of a lesson to do with himself or to do with the classroom or to do with individuals. The most important aim ussually concerns intended student achievement; things thay they will have learned, skill they will have improved, points they will have reached by the end of the lesson. In order to distinguish this important aim clearly from others, I shall refer to the main aim of a lesson as the objective.
3. Syllabus and Time Table.
A syllabus is a list of particular topics and subject to be covered. Thus you might know that in one of the lessons in the coming week you will need to deal with giving directions. You are now informed as to the subject matter in terms of language systems or language skills.
From this you can devise your objectives. For example – by the end of the lesson the learners will have been introduced to seven common phareses used in asking for and giving directions and have had oral practice in using them appropriately and accurately to exchange information.
If you have a clear objective for a lesson, you can bear this mind all the way through the class. Knowing where you are going enables you to make moment by moment decisions about different paths or options to take en route, while keeping the main objetive always clearly in front of you.
Good lesson planning, and especially good specifying of objectives, does not therefore restrict you but in clarifying the end point you intend to reach, sets you free to go towards that point in the most appropriate ways in class.