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The art of teaching

"The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery".   Mark Van Doren


"The lesson should be planned so that the class is on its toes" Wilga M.Rivers

               Not anything planned can go taught and not anything taught can go learnt; other factors are at play which do affect the learning outcome. Therefore a lesson plan though it is not an end in itself, it is compulsory in order to bridge the gap between the potential language features intended to be taught and the feedback. A good built lesson plan is the most effective way to reach the objective the teacher is after. This remark is so obvious that it hardly seems worth mentioning.

               In this page I'll endeavour to display the different elements needed in the building of a good lesson plan. Needless to say that there is a variety of lessons dealing with different skills and abilities notably: Listening, Reading, Oral and Writing. Regardless of this diversity, when we are aware of the fact that language is taught essentially to convey and decode messages in the target language as well as negotiating meaning, we know that in a Communicative approach based lesson all these skills are integrated, i.e.: One skill leads to another. In brief, the objective behind any lesson plan is to make the learners able to understand and communicate ideas in the target language: here, English.

What do we mean by a lesson?

               It is a pedagogical task, a learning and teaching process. It is also a set of activities which has a beginning and an end. It is supposed to make learners learn the rules of the linguistic system to be able to learn how to perform in English. In a word, the lesson is generally meant to help learners satisfy anyone of a multitude of goals. Yet this definition is not exhaustive. It is merely indicative.

The Structure Of The Lesson

               The presumption that a good lesson follows specific steps useful for all sorts of lessons; that's to say "Presentation", "Drilling", "Exploitation and Production" is not quite true because not all lessons are designed to teach "structures". Unfortunately things are not as easy as that. The lesson plan should include a lot of assumptions related to the teacher's experience in the classroom. The teacher has to take into account the fact that a lesson starts before it practically begins. So she has to deal with it in terms of interactive practice that a lot of factors play a great role in the making of it.


  1. What do I want my students to lean from this lesson?
  2. How can I get the students' attention?
  3. What activities will be included in the lesson?
  4. Is this taking too much time?(real time check)
  5. How much time will I need for each activity?
  6. What grouping arrangement will I use?
  7. How will I begin and conclude the lesson?
  8. What are any alternative plans if problems arise with some aspects of the lesson.
(This list is not final..)


  1. Do the students understand this?
  2. How can I get the students' attention?
  3. Is this too difficult for the students?
  4. Am I teaching too much rather than telling the students to do the activity themselves?
  5. Are my instructions clear and understood?
(This list, too, is not final..)


  1. What did the students get out of the lesson?
  2. What were the main strengths and weaknesses of the lesson?
  3. Were all the students involved in the lesson?
  4. Do I need to re-teach any aspect of the lesson?
  5. What would be a suitable follow up to the lesson?(blue print)
  6. Did I do sufficient preparation for the lesson?
(This list is not final either..)

               This sort of procedure allows the teacher to be aware of the weak points in her lesson and eventually tries to redress them. This way the teacher will soon become an action researcher and gradually problems become less tough or at least spotted and rectified or avoided. Professionals at any field pass through action research to restructure their product and head towards perfection confidently.


               Every lesson goes through three important stages that should be well done so as to make sure your lesson plan won't deviate from the prearranged scheme.

1st stage: OPENNING MOVE:
               The procedure the teacher uses to focus the students' attention on the learning aims of the lesson. This can be done through a relatively short warm up: greeting the audience, jokes, riddles, chat, specifying the objectives of the lesson.. etc.

               This stage includes all the possible shifts, throughout the lesson, depending of course on the different sub-activities previously planned to attain the overall goals of the lesson. And that's what we can call "Sequencing". There is another crucial factor in this stage, notably the "Pacing". It is the extent to which a lesson maintains its momentum and communicates a sense of development.    ~ more ~

3rd stage: CLOSING MOVE
               This means the strategies which lead to bring a lesson to an end effectively. This "Closure" stage can be done through,
*Summarizing what has been covered in the lesson.
*Reviewing key points in the lesson.
*Relating the lesson to the course or lesson goals.
*Pointing out links between the lesson and previous lessons.
*Showing how the lesson related to students real world needs.
*Making links to a forthcoming lesson.(directions)
*Praising students for what they have accomplished during the lesson.

The Different Purposes Of The Lesson Beginnings

  1. How to create a friendly relaxed atmosphere: use as introductions greetings, chat, jokes etc.
  2. How to focus attention: Anything lively or unusual.. vary the beginning! Use greetings, visual stimulus, listening activity.
  3. How to create suitable physical environment: Get students to arrange furniture.
  4. How to make class enjoyable: light-hearted oral activity, games.
  5. How to get every one involved: Game, pair-work activity, go over homework.
  6. How to raise confidence: Chat, controlled activities, review.
  7. How to stimulate interest: Anything lively or unusual; challenging activities, using active learning.
  8. Provide organizing framework: Make connections with the previous lesson; describe activities or objectives of the lesson; introduce topic.
  9. How to stimulate awareness of need: Questions; quiz..
  10. How to elicit relevant linguistic knowledge: Brainstorming, oral activity.
  11. How to elicit experience: Questions.
  12. How to give feedback: Go through previous homework.
  13. Check on previous learning: Quiz; Game; ask for summary; brainstorm.
  14. How to give value for time: This has more to do with how you start than what.
  15. Minimize of students problems arriving late: Short activities, Chat.

Related Topics
* Lesson Plans Store
* Teaching Listening
* Teaching Writing
* The Quiz As A Criterion Of Assessment
* More Topics

Lessons & Exercises


The following links may interest you:

21st Century Learning
E-Education Blog
Classroom Language Vs Street Slang
Role-play for the Gen. Y Learners
More than a simple lesson plan
Paragraph Writing
Join Writing Group
Lessons and Activities
Riddles, Quizzes and more!
Teaching Tools
A Site for Teachers
~ new ~ Bridging the gap between Language and Culture in ESOL classes ~ new ~