64 Free ESL Lesson Plans and Templates


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When it comes to teaching abroad (or teaching in general), one of the most challenging parts of the job is creating and updating ESL lesson plans.  Depending on your role, you may need to use dozens of lessons spread across multiple classes during the term – and sometimes there is just not enough gas left in the tank to come up with something new every time.

While many teachers might opt to wing it or reuse old lessons (both of which I was guilty of when teaching in Korea), I do think there is something to be said for fresh inspiration – sometimes you just need to introduce some new material into your routine and we’ve put together a list of 51 ESL lesson plans and templates (broken out by topic) that you can start using today.

Other Free Resources:

Science ESL Lesson Plans

This group of lesson plans will arm you with current, up-to-date science topics. These lessons can be tailored to fit any age group and any fluency level. You may have to slightly change some things, such as the hurricane lesson in order to reflect the latest hurricane disaster or you could even make one up in your class as an ongoing activity. If you are looking for a specific topic, one of these plans just may be the right model for you to write your own lesson plan off of.

High School ESL Lesson Plans

To say keeping teenagers engaged in their education can be a struggle is an understatement. This list of lesson plans can help you prepare for the weeks ahead by supplementing any syllabus with educational and interesting topics.

Middle School ESL Lesson Plans

These lesson plans are great for use in the slightly younger crowd of learners, as many of these lessons incorporate different types of media, as well as fun activities to keep the lessons interesting.  All lesson plans are based more or less on the same basic structure; however, these are tailored to middle school aged students where attention span may not be very long.

Reading ESL Lesson Plans

The ability to read is a cornerstone of English fluency and one of the most complicated things to teach as an ESL teacher.  Many students will enter the classroom with little to no previous knowledge of phonetics, comprehension, or vocabulary and it’s up to you to take them from recognizing letters to forming sounds.  These reading ESL lesson plans will help you craft lessons for various age groups and can be adapted to suit different levels.

Please note that these lessons will be easier if your students have a bit of English instruction under the belts – if not, scroll down to the lessons for beginners. 

Grammar ESL Lesson Plans

Teaching grammar is a tall order no matter what level your students are and even experienced teachers struggle to convey rules that they may have forgotten or had to relearn in the interest of ESL learning.  These grammar ESL lesson plans can serve as the tip of the spear for teachers – the basis upon which your class will be built and a familiar friend on which less-experienced teachers can rely when trying to think back to how exactly you teach possessive adjectives.

Pronunciation ESL Lesson Plans

Pronunciation is a particularly difficult talent to teach as a student’s native language often interferes with the process.  It’s also an extremely valuable skill as it can improve the students’ placement in future classes, the ability to get a job, and self-confidence when conversing with other English speakers.

Without getting too deep into how to teach phonetics, it can be advantageous for teachers to incorporate some basic pronunciation ESL lesson plans into their classes if only to familiarize their students with the methods.  Consider beginning with how to form each sound and moving into evaluating entire words and phrases.

Business ESL Lesson Plans

Teaching business can be a challenging endeavor for a teacher – not only are the topics often advanced compared to reading and comprehension, they may often be made up of material that falls outside of your expertise.  For example, if you are tasked with teaching marketing, it’s likely you will learn a lot along the way as well unless you’ve been a marketer!

Business ESL lesson plans can plan an invaluable role in this situation – not only do they provide a solid foundation for your classes, they also provide a template through which you can easily familiarize yourself with the material.

Beginners ESL Lesson Plans

Teaching beginners can be as fun as it diverse.  Beginner classes are often filled with younger students full of energy and excitement which makes lessons a lot of fun to teach.  However, new teachers are often overwhelmed with where to start when it comes to new learners because they need to learn everything from ABCs to introductions.  This is where a good beginner lesson plan comes in, and even more importantly, a good curriculum.

These lessons can be adjusted to fit students of any age and serve as a great ESL template for teachers looking for ways to improve their other classes.

Adults ESL Lesson Plans

I’ve found that when it comes to teaching adults, there is a tremendous benefit to introducing vocabulary and reinforcing it with real world examples.  To accommodate this teaching style, these ESL lesson plans for adults are almost all based around role play but can be amended to focus more on the vocabulary or grammar part of the class.

One of the things I loved about teaching adults was the ability to engage in discussions that might escape the comprehension of lower levels.  Use this to your advantage and push your classes to discuss topics that will challenge their ability to learn as well as think.

Kids ESL Lesson Plans

Teaching kids is easiest when teachers rely heavily on stories and games.  These tools serve not only to provide entertainment but also to reinforce the lessons in fun and memorable ways.  If you teach young learners, you might find some similarities in these ESL lessons for kids that you can apply to your other classes – the structure is quite similar throughout each. 

Listening ESL Lesson Plans

A student’s ability to listen and understand even basic English is paramount for a good classroom experience – not only are they able to better comprehend instructions, they will have an easier time interacting with their fellow students.  Luckily, a solid ESL listening lesson plan begins with the teacher and you can make the overall process much easier just by speaking slowly and clearly, facing the class, and engaging in warm up activities that promote both listening and speaking.

Depending on your students’ ability you may also want to incorporate role play, movies, and even TV shows into your classroom material and homework.

Vocabulary ESL Lesson Plans

No matter what your students’ ages or abilities, learning vocabulary never really goes away.  New lessons beget new words and it’s important to teach them in a consistent and effective way.  While using repetition, context, and games are all beneficial tactics, how you structure your vocab into your ESL teaching template is also something that can make or break a lesson.

Your mileage may vary, but I’ve seen the most success introducing and reinforcing vocabulary at the beginning of each lesson and then working the rest of the class around it.

Writing ESL Lesson Plans

Writing is one of the things that frustrated my students the most – they may have been able to understand and speak basic English but the writing was a constant struggle.  It’s also one of the most valuable skills for non-native speakers and one that can make the difference between getting a job or not, or placing into a higher level English class.  With this in mind, I believe that it’s never too early to introduce writing into your classes through ESL lesson plans.

The how is obviously dependent on your students’ level, but even just practicing ABCs on the board (make a game out of it!) will be invaluable as they progress into bigger words and even sentences.  If your students are well beyond the basics, make sure you are having them write regularly as it really is a muscle that needs to be exercised.

Want more?  Here are some of the best online resources we found for ESL lesson plans and templates:

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