7 Helpful Tips for Creating an ESL Lesson Plan

By Altiné Moumouni
Proper lesson planning is the difference between a good teacher and a bad teacher

An ESL lesson plan is one of the things that can make your class fun, exciting and engaging if you do it properly. Basically, proper lesson planning is the difference between a good teacher and a bad teacher

A lesson plan is an ESL teacher’s road map of what students need to learn and ways to conduct a classroom properly. 

A successful lesson plan includes three essential components:

  • Learning objectives
  • Learning activities
  • Homework or assignments for checking students’ understanding

Here are the seven steps involved in creating a successful ESL lesson plan.

1. Determine the learning objectives

Imagine you are given an airplane to go anywhere you want; however, if you don’t decide where exactly you want to go, you will be drifting in the air. 

The same goes with learning objectives; they keep you focused. Learning objectives tell you where you want to go and how to get there. 

For example, your learning objectives can be a particular grammar topic, such as practicing the present progressive. 

I wrote two articles: Tips for Teaching Grammar and How To Make Teaching Grammar Fun Again; I encourage you to read these two articles for more details on delivering exciting and engaging grammar lessons. 

2. Create an outline for your lesson plan

Outlining your lesson plan includes the activities your students will need to engage in to acquire the knowledge and skills required to demonstrate effective learning on the topic.

As you prepare your outline, estimating how much time you will spend on each activity would be a good idea.

  • What is the best way to explain the topic?
  • What activity, including games, will help students acquire the necessary knowledge?
  • What are some engaging and relevant examples you can use during your lesson? 

3. Pick ESL activities to achieve your lesson plan objectives

Choose classroom activities that help your students understand your learning objectives by applying and articulating new concepts and knowledge. 

As a teacher, picking suitable activities will also provide feedback about your students’ learning.

I encourage you to check out these ESL activities and classroom ideas for future lesson planning

4. Create a practical timeline

When creating lesson plans, most of us tend to get too excited and underestimate the time it will take to present our lessons properly.

I suggest you narrow your learning objectives to two or three key concepts, ideas, or skills that you want students to properly comprehend in the lesson.

Most importantly, always be flexible and be willing to adjust your lesson plan to students’ needs, especially if you teach students with mixed abilities

Here are a few tips to remember when creating a lesson plan: 

  • Evaluate the time necessary for each activity and plan an extra few minutes
  • When creating your outline, next to each activity add the expected time for that activity
  • At the end of class, reserve a few minutes to summarize key points and answer questions your students might have
  • In case you have time left, always have an extra activity for your students to do

5. Delivering your lesson plan 

Always start your classes by letting your students know what they are expected to learn to keep them more focused and on track. 

I suggest you write a brief agenda on the board to tell students what classroom activities they will do and what they will be learning in class. 

Consider all the tools and materials you need to deliver your lesson plan properly and ensure they work properly. 

Image your create an excellent visual aid and find out during your class that the class projector or computer is not working. 

Whatever you need to present your lesson plan, ensure it is available, and in some cases, I suggest you create backup lesson plans. 

6. Properly end your class 

Properly ending your lesson helps solidify your students’ understanding of the learning objectives.

Here are a few ways I generally end my lessons: 

  • By summarizing the learning objectives
  • Sometimes, I ask one of my students to summarize what we learned
  • I ask every student to summarize what they learned in their notebooks
  • I write assignments or homework on the board

7. Take time to reflect on your lesson plan

Taking time to reflect on your lesson plan will enable you as a teacher to find ways to improve your lesson planning skills. 

After each class, I advise you to take a few minutes to reflect on what went well during your class and what you should have done differently. 

If needed, adjust the lesson plan for the next time. 

Written by Altiné Moumouni for Teflnet August 2022
Altiné is from Toronto, Canada, and currently teaches mathematics at a high school in Guangzhou, China. He has a master's degree in International Economics and Finance from Ryerson University in Canada and is passionate about helping people worldwide through his blogs. He writes about TEFL Teaching and Health and Fitness. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, running, traveling, and anything that allows him to experience the beauty of nature. You can find him at altinify.com.
© Teflnet


  • Altiné Mni says:

    You are very welcome. Glad you enjoyed reading the article.

  • Leonor García Botello says:

    Altiné: Thank you so much for sharing such helpful tips for creating an ESL lesson plan.

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