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Friday, October 29, 2010

How do you Structure an English Language Lesson?

How Do You Structure an English Language Lesson?

How Do You Structure an English Language Lesson?

By Sarah Handsworth

There is no simple answer to this question but this article will describe a typical journey through a lesson that is often used. The journey is aimed to take the student through an introduction and through individual components that he or she will be able to use in a final phase at the end of the lesson. This process is often described as PPP or presentation, practice and production.

The start of a lesson is often initiated with a warmer which can be a short fun activity designed to settle the class into learning mode and raise the energy of the class.

A presentation is designed to inform the students of what they are going to be tackling in the lesson. It allows the teacher to assess how much the students already know of the aim of the lesson and maybe adjust accordingly.

Practice is where the students are given tasks by the teacher that focus on individual language skills. These should be geared towards helping students complete the final phase of the lesson. The activities used in the practice part of the lesson are often referred to as 'controlled practice' in contrast to the production phase of the lesson which is often referred to as 'authentic practice'. Here the teacher sets strict parameters as to what the students can do in terms of their language.

The production phase of the lesson is where the teacher sets an activity that requires students to use language in as real and as an authentic way as possible. Here there are no definite parameters for language use, rather, the task sets an aim for students to achieve with whatever language ability they may have.

In planning this kind of lesson it is perhaps a good idea to work backwards, considering what the students are going to be doing at the end of the lesson. In this way the teacher can consider the language skills necessary to achieve this and thus plan to teach these components.

Here is an example: the teacher decides that the students will write about what a partner did on their last holiday. In order to do this the students will have to be able to ask past simple questions and write about the past. Therefore the teacher can plan a logical sequence of activities starting from a presentation in which the class find out what the teacher did for his or her last holiday and are shown the forms for past simple questions (for example), the lesson then moves onto a practice phase which would include various past tense practices (speaking, listening, gap-fills, error corrections etc.) and thus leading to a final phase where students interview each other and write out their findings.

There are of course many other types of lesson structure but PPP, presentation practice production is the structure that is most commonly taught in English teacher training courses as a good basis with which to plan lessons.

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