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TKT Core Module 2: Lesson planning and use of resources for language teaching
Planning an individual lesson or sequence of lessons


As was said at the beginning of the previous guide, very few teachers have the time to write full lesson plans for every lesson they teach so what follows is based on the ideal world.
If you are taking, have taken or will take a practical teacher training course, you will probably have to write full plans.


Key concepts in this guide

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

  • lesson types and structures
    • PPP
    • TTT
    • TBL
  • lesson purposes
    • presenting
    • extending
    • revising
  • staging lessons
    • structures
    • skills
    • revision
  • sequencing lessons
    • targeting
    • learning
    • integrating
    • assessing

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.


Three alternative lesson structures

There are almost as many ways to plan a lesson as there are teachers to teach them.
Before we can begin to plan a lesson or a series of lessons, however, we need to be clear about what sort of lesson we are designing.
Here we will consider three basic lesson structures and look at what they are appropriate for and how we can plan them.
Here's a picture:
three structures
And here's the explanation:

  1. PPP refers to Present → Practice → Produce.  This is a very common framework for lessons of all kinds.  It is familiar, simple and often effective.  It usually works like this:
    1. The topic and target are introduced at the outset.
    2. The core of the lesson lies in progressively less controlled practice.
    3. At the end, the learners can use the language in a personal way for real communication.
  2. TTT refers to Test → Teach → Test and is almost equally common and but is less straightforward to plan because the teacher must respond and adapt to what emerges from the first testing stage.
    1. The lesson begins with tasks to test the learners' ability to do things with the language.  This alerts both the learners and the teacher to what needs to be improved or learned.
    2. The actually teaching and practice come next with the focus on analysing and practising.
    3. Finally, the tasks are repeated or new, parallel ones are set to allow everyone to judge how well the lesson's targets have been achieved.
  3. TBL refers to Task-Based Learning.  This is not common as a structure but has great advantages in terms of requiring the learners to use their language skills to the full right from the beginning.  It is also useful if you have a very mixed-level group of learners because they can all achieve the task in some way.
    There are differences in how people plan lessons of this kind with some preferring to teach language first and some preferring to teach the language after the task is complete so the sequence could be:
    1. Possibility 1:
      1. Presentation of the task
      2. Do the task
      3. Report back on the task outcomes
      4. Analysis of the language produced with correction
      5. Practice of the language the learners needed to command.
    2. Possibility 2:
      1. Practice of the language the learners will need
      2. Presentation of the task
      3. Do the task
      4. Report back on the task outcomes
      5. Revisit, revise and extend the language skills and systems

All three lesson types can be used to target skills, systems and integrated skills and systems.
All three structures can also be used for all kinds of lessons although some are better suited to presentation of new language and skills and some to revision and extension of language and skills already learned.


Three alternative lesson purposes

Lessons can have three main purposes, too, although many lessons have a combination of these.

  1. To teach something completely new: presenting
  2. To extend knowledge and skills from what is already known: extending
  3. To revise and provide more practice: revising

Task 1: Think about these situations and decide what lesson structure(s) is/are best suited to the targets of the lesson.
Click on the eye open when you have thought what goes in the right-hand column.

Target ... is a suitable lesson structure ... because ...
Teaching past-tense forms to a group of beginners
eye open
If they really are nearly beginners and have never met the forms then a PPP approach is probably well suited.
A TTT approach would not be helpful because the answers to any test would be random.
A TBL approach at this level for this target would be difficult to design and manage.
Revising and practising intensive listening skills
eye open
A TTT approach would be useful because it would focus the learners on using the skill to perform a task at the beginning.  The teaching could then focus on listening strategies and the class could practise applying the strategies at the end.
A PPP approach would be in danger of being dull because the learners already know about intensive listening.  They need practice not information.
A TBL approach is usually unsuited to focus on a single skill as it intentionally provides integrated language and skills practice.
Focusing on questions forms and functions to do with giving and getting opinions
eye open
A PPP approach could work well if the class are at a level where they need a focus on question forms before using them to perform the function of asking about opinion but this approach would also need to focus on giving opinions and that might be too much for a presentation.
A TTT approach could work if the task at the beginning alerts the learners to the fact that they need more language and more options to perform the functions successfully.
A TBL approach centred on a task to survey the opinions of other students (or the general public or staff at the institution) could work very well because the topic is suited to some kind of report presentation.


Decision time

Before you can get down to planning a lesson, you need to decide:

  1. What is the purpose of my lesson?
  2. What lesson structure(s) would be suited to this purpose?

Once those decisions are made, you can proceed.  Not before.


Staging lesson procedures

A PPP presentation lesson

These will need three stages at least.  Here they are:

  1. presenting the new language or skill
  2. carefully practising the language or skill in a situation which avoids too much error.  In other words, this stage must be quite tightly controlled
  3. using the new language or skill more freely and in a way which is personal and clearly relevant to the learners

Now you need to download an example of a plan of this sort.  Click here to do that.  The plan will open in an new tab so you can have it on screen or print it out (or even use it!).

downloadread Task 2: Read through the plan to identify:
  1. When the language is presented
  2. When controlled practice happens
  3. When the learners use the language more freely
Click here when you have done that.

The lesson staging can be used for many different purposes.  For example, it could easily be adapted to present and practise things you are allowed to do (I can ...) and things that are forbidden (We can't ... / mustn't ...).  All that's needed is some different pictures and a change to the worksheet.

skills lessons

downloadread Task 3: Now download a skill lesson plan and do the same thing.  Read through the plan to identify :
  1. When the skill is presented
  2. When controlled practice happens
  3. When the learners use the language more freely
Click here when you have done that.

revision lessons

think Task 4: There's no example for this because, rather obviously, it depends on what you are revising.  For the two lessons above, however, think for a moment about how you might revise the targets and then click here.

The important thing is that language and skills lessons need to be revised.

There are some more examples of plans you can copy, use adapt or analyse in the teachers' section of this site.


Sequences of lessons

Planning sequences of lessons is a matter of applying the same sort of thinking but on a bigger scale.  Over a series of lessons, a range of purposes and appropriate lesson structures will be useful.
This will add variety to the course and keep the lessons fresh and engaging but it will also mean you can match the lesson style to the stage of the course.  A short course series could look something like:

series of lessons

Some notes:

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

There is only one test for this short guide.

Test 1 A matching task
Test 2 A 15-item gap-fill test

... return to the Module 2 index: blue arrow
or go on to the next guide which is to choosing assessment activities.