Planning a Young Learner Lesson

by Sophia McMillan
(Shane Training Centre, Japan)


What should I teach?

The first thing a teacher needs to decide is WHAT they want to teach. What do children need to learn?
• Vocabulary - These should be concrete items in the children’s environment, grouped by category, as vocabulary is easier to remember that way.
• Functional Dialogues - Things children say every day.
• Listening - Children learning a foreign language can understand more than they can say.
• Grammar - Simple, useful structures that children can substitute vocabulary items into and make their own sentences. It is important to include statements as well as questions and answers.
• Phonics/Reading/Writing - Children learning English need lots of support, reading and writing are hard skills to master and require patience and practice.

The Lesson Plan
A basic lesson plan makes planning easier. Lesson plans are needed by the learners in order to provide structure and routine to their learning, the parents need one in order to have confidence in the teacher.

Below is a basic outline for a young learner lesson:
Warmer (Review) 5 minutes
Introduce new material 5-10 minutes
Practice new material 5-20 minutes
Bookwork (including homework) 10 minutes
Follow-up 5 minutes
Round up 5 minutes
TOTAL 55 minutes

Warmers are used to get the children thinking in English again, some need to be calmed down and others need to be energized. For this reason we use warmers to review, in a fun way, something they have already learnt. They should be quick, easy and enjoyable. For example: Partner Search – Using two sets of cards (pictures, words, dialogue lines etc). Give each learner a card, making sure that at least two have the same card. The learners search for the other person with the same card by saying the word, dialogue etc – they are not allowed to show the card – as they walk around the class,

When introducing new material it should always be introduced orally first, with the books closed.

Practice activities give the learners an opportunity to practice and consolidate the language they have been taught. Below are some practice activities:
• In Order (Vocab) - Give each child a different review picture or word card. Name the cards in random order. Learners must stand up and make a line in the given order. Name the cards again, faster and in a different order. In large classes, use eight to ten cards each time. The class can act as 'jury' and decide whether the order is correct.
• In The Dark (Phonics) - Place objects beginning with target letters on the table. Blindfold a learner, or have them close their eyes. Say a letter or sound (not a word). The blindfolded learner tries to find an object on the table beginning with that letter or sound.
• Behind Your Back (Grammar) - A learner stands up with his hands behind his back. Place an object in his hands and ask “What's this?” The learner responds with 'It's a ___.' If they are correct, they sit down. If not, they continues guessing until they correctly identify the object.

After the new material has been practiced it is an ideal time to get the books out, allowing the children to see the material in another context, and listen to the CD. It is vital, however, that they remain involved so ask them to point to vocabulary items, or characters in the book etc. Alternatively they might be doing a listening exercise where they are required to repeat, tick boxes or circle something.

Setting homework is important for all learners as it reinforces what has been covered in the class. Good homework is: achievable for the learners, follows the curriculum and makes for easy review. It is vital that the homework task is demonstrated clearly so that when the children leave the class they are aware of what is required of them.

The lesson should end on an enjoyable note, sending the children home feeling good about learning English and wanting to come back again. Follow-up and round-up games might consolidate material learnt in class or offer an opportunity to use the material in a slightly different way or review previously covered material. For example: Guess the Drawing - Choose five to ten cards to be reviewed. Divide the learners into two teams standing in two lines. Show the same card to the first person in each team. Both learners run to the board and draw that item. Their team tries to guess the item. The first team to guess correctly is awarded a point. The team with the most points wins.


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