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Planning Your ESL Lessons

ESL LessonsMotivating students in any subject area can be difficult. It can be even harder when faced with the challenge of teaching students in a new language. The role of the ESL teacher is vital to students’ future success, and as the population of English language learners continues to grow in the United States, more teachers will be needed. There are many resources on the Internet for designing quality lessons for your students, including Dave's ESL Cafe and California Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, which offers ample links to ESL teaching resources. The following are five tips for planning quality lessons for English language learners.

1. Play games.

Games can help energize and motivate students. TEFL Net offers seven games to integrate into the ESL curriculum, ranging in levels from beginner to intermediate. With Secret Word, a student leaves the room and the class chooses a secret word. When she returns, the class asks that student questions to try to get her to say the secret word. When she says the word, she loses. The more fun learning is, the more motivated students are to learn!

2. Use grammar and mechanics resources.

It takes too long to create everything from scratch; you will never have enough hours in the day. There are many grammar and mechanics resources on the web, but they are not all equal. The Purdue Online Writing Lab has resources specifically tailored for ESL teachers, including a page devoted to grammar and mechanics. Grammar rules are clearly and explicitly laid out with examples. How to use adjectives, subject/verb agreement and prepositions are just a few of the topics explained.

3. Use film and video.

Students enjoy interacting with media, as they do this regularly outside of class. ESL Partyland offers resources for incorporating television and movies into ESL instruction. The site offers handouts and complete lessons to go along with videos. For one of the films, Do the Right Thing, the site offers a launch activity, vocabulary, a listening activity and discussion questions. All of the site’s resources are free.

4. Find pre-created lesson plans.

While you will want to create many of your own lessons, time is valuable and there are many excellent lesson plans on the Internet. Dave's ESL Cafeoffers links to sites with complete ESL lesson plans. Many of the sites allow you to share your own lessons, in addition to borrowing others.

5. Use authentic reading materials.

Learning needs to be both relevant and meaningful for students to be engaged. TEFL Net suggests using authentic newspaper and magazine stories that students can easily relate to. The site offers links to stories from a variety of topics, including headline news, entertainment, science, business, sports, technology, lifestyle and features. The sources that provide the stories are updated every 15 minutes, so the students will not be reading outdated, irrelevant reading materials. The more you match stories to students’ personal interests and preferences, the more focused they will be.