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TKT Core Module 2: Lesson planning and use of resources for language teaching
Identifying and selecting aims


The full title of this area is

Identifying and selecting aims appropriate to learners, the stage of learning and lesson types

So, as well as identifying aims, we'll look at how they can be (or can be made) appropriate.


Key concepts in this guide

By the end of this guide, you should be able to understand and use these key concepts:

  • identifying aims
  • characteristics of good aims
  • aims vs. objectives
  • main, subsidiary and personal aims
  • lesson types and aims
  • stage aims
  • responding to learners

Look out for these words like this in the text.
There will be tests at the end of the guide for you to check that you understand the ideas.

In this guide, we will mostly consider aims for a single lesson but all the points apply also to a series of lessons.


Identifying aims

The first step is to see what an aim actually is.

thinkwrite Task 1: Which of the following are aims for lessons?
Check here when you have an answer and have written down the numbers for the sentences which are real aims.
  1. Students will exchange ideas about sports and pastimes
  2. The learners will be more confident speakers
  3. The class will practise making question forms with conditional sentences
  4. At the end of the lesson, the learners will be more aware of the importance of collocation
  5. The students will present the findings of their survey to the whole class
  6. The learners will be able to understand, use appropriately and pronounce the following 10 lexemes ...
  7. The students will improve their writing skills in terms of planning and selecting appropriate stylistic conventions
  8. I will present and revise the main uses of the present perfect progressive using a smart board
  9. The students will mingle to find someone who has selected the same three adjectives to describe their families
  10. Students will have gained a better understanding of the nature of verbs followed by gerunds and infinitives and be able to use them confidently


Good aims are ...


Here's a mnemonic to help you remember the characteristics of good lesson aims.  If you can remember the word CLEAR, it will help you.  Good aims are:

Clear and not only to you.  Learners, too, must know what they are trying to achieve.
Limited Too many aims will mean that the lesson loses focus.  Both the teacher and the learners will lose a sense of purpose.
Explicit A good lesson plan will also make it clear how the aims will be achieved.  For example, instead of ...
    The students will have learnt 10 new words to describe emotions
it would be more helpful to state ...
    The students will have understood the negative and positive aspects of the target language by using the items accurately and realistically in a personalised framework.
Achievable Aims need to be realistic in terms of the level of the learners, the amount of material and the time available.
If aims are too ambitious, learners will be discouraged because there will be no sense of progress.
If aims are too low, learners will get bored and wonder what use the lesson is.
Relevant Whatever the aims, the skills and knowledge you hope the learners will acquire have to be things they need.


Why have aims?

Good question
think Task 2: Think of a couple of good reasons to have clear aims for lessons.
Click here when you have two reasons.


Different types of aims

aims and objectives
Some people make a difference between these:
Aims are the things that the teacher wants to achieve in the lesson.
Objectives are the outcomes: what the learners will be able to do at the end.
In this guide, we will use the term 'aim' to cover both but you should know the difference.
main and subsidiary aims
Few lessons focus only on one target and one topic and a series of lessons will probably cover lots of different targets and topics.
Main aims for a lesson will probably describe the one, two or three outcomes that are most important.
Main aims for a series of lessons will be broader and more ambitious.
Subsidiary aims are often either:
    a language structure or collection of lexemes that you want the learners to revise or learn during a lesson based on a skill
    a language skill that you want the learners to practise while focusing on a language structure or vocabulary point.
personal aims
Teachers also have aims.  For example:
    I want to reduce the time I spend talking
    I will try to use only English for the whole time
    I want to change the way I get feedback
and so on.


Matching aims to lesson types

Lessons come in different sorts and will need different aims:

presentation lessons
in which a new skill or structure is met for the first time.
The aim of this sort of lesson will be quite clear and state exactly what structures or lexis or skill or sub-skill the learners will be able to use at the end and at what level of competence.
revision lessons
in which there is nothing completely new but the learners need more exposure to the form or the skill.
The aim of a lesson of this type will take into account what the learners already know but state explicitly how it is going to be re-visited and consolidated.
extension lessons
in which the aim is to broaden, widen or deepen the learners' abilities in some way.
The aim of this sort of lesson will be clear about where the learners are now and where they will be at the end.
revision plus extension
in which the learners first revise what they know and then go on to extend it and apply it.
Here, too, the aim will be clear about where the learners are now and where they will be at the end.
think Task 3: Here are examples but the lesson types and the aims do not match.
Can you arrange the lesson types to match the lesson aims?
Click on the table when you have an answer.

types and aims


Stage aims

If, for example, you intend to introduce the lesson by using a set of kitchen gadgets you have brought from home, why are you doing this?
You need to be able to state clearly what the aims of this procedure are.  They may be, simply:

To interest the learners in the topic of the lesson

or it may be more specific:

To see how well the learners can use the infinitive structure in, e.g., It's a thing to make pastry flat

Procedures can have a range of aims and aims can be achieved through a variety of procedures.
What's important, of course, is that they match.

think Task 4: It is useful at the planning stages to think about what each stage aims to achieve.
Try this short test to see if you can match the stage of a lesson to its aims.


A final point

Aims are not set in stone.
Good teachers will change the plan as they go along to respond to learners' needs so the aim of the lesson may change as the lesson progresses.
This is not a bad thing because having fixed aims and sticking to them too mechanically will mean that you can't respond to what the learners really need.
Teach the learners, not the plan.

self test

Self-test questions

Before you go on, make sure you can answer these questions.  If you can't, go back to the sections which give you trouble.

If you are happy with your progress, go on.


Tests and practice for TKT

You have done some tests in this guide already but there's one more to do.

Test 1 A gap-fill test

... return to the Module 2 index: blue arrow
or go on to the next guide which is to identifying different components of a lesson plan.