Six Steps to Planning an Effective English Language Lesson

dreamstime_l_39119483A highly effective English language lesson should be fun and engaging with lots of teacher modeling, guidance, visuals, games and hands-on practice. Every English lesson should include all four modes of language; listening, speaking, reading and writing. Each mode of language uses a different part of the brain. When students use all four modes of language in a lesson, they have more brain power and thus better retention of the skill. Here are six steps for planning an effective English language lesson and productive follow up activities:

  1. Objective: Decide which specific language words and skills the students need to learn and practice. You can look at the Common Core Language standards to get some ideas.
  2. Materials: Gather and prepare materials to use with the lesson. These might include word and picture cards, stories, hands-on items, posters, videos, games, writing and drawing supplies, and/or white boards.
  3. Introduction: How will you introduce the lesson objective in a comprehensible and memorable way? Stories, videos and colorful posters showing examples of the language skill are perfect to use for an introduction.
  4. Guided Practice: Plan an activity which will engage students in the skill as the teacher supports and coaches. Reading, sorting, matching, talking, playing a game, drawing and writing are good ways to practice the skill with teacher guidance.
  5. Independent Practice: Prepare an activity which will engage students so they can continue to practice the skill independently or with a small group of students. Card games, board games and digital games are great activities for independent practice, because they are engaging, easy to differentiate and provide repeated practice.
  6. Writing: Plan a writing activity that can begin in guided practice and continued in independent practice. Writing is usually the most difficult of the four modes of language, so it’s important to provide students with many opportunities to write. Writing is one of the most differentiated activities, because students will write from their own personal experience and at their differing language levels. Instead of giving students a worksheet to fill in, have them write and illustrate their own meaningful sentences using the words or skills they have learned.

Here is the first in a series of English language lessons I created in response to many teacher requests.   Click here to download a blank lesson planning page.

1 ELL lessons cover

Reading Aloud to ELL Students

read aloudA strategic and engaging read aloud experience is an effective way to model fluent reading and develop language, vocabulary and comprehension for ELL students. Here are some steps to making read aloud beneficial for students who are learning English.

1. Choose interesting books that have some words and content new to the students. The choice of book depends on the English level of the student. I would suggest teaching five to ten new words during a read aloud.

2. Activate prior knowledge by finding out what students already know about the topic. In a narrative text have students make predictions about what might happen in the story by looking at the pictures.

3. Preteach new vocabulary by bringing in actual objects or photos of objects from the text. During the reading explain and discuss vocabulary  in context. Encourage students to let you know if they do not understand a word.

4. During the reading make comments and explain ideas in the text. Encourage discussion by asking questions and allowing students to ask questions. Share the strategies good readers use to make meaning of text.

5. Provide a closing activity that provides practice and review of  vocabulary and content. Creating a graphic organizer,  writing and/or drawing  about the story and oral retelling with a partner are some good closing activities.

There are many, many wonderful read aloud books to choose from. Because of the great visuals and cultural content, I like to read aloud to my English language learners from multicultural picture books.

Click here for a list of some of my favorite multicultural picture books.