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), there is something to be said for fresh inspiration – sometimes you just need to introduce some new material into your routine.
In that spirit, we’ve put together a list of 68 ESL lesson plans and templates (broken out by topic) that you can start using today.
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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.
In the Thai ESL job market and others, it’s not unheard of for schools to ask foreign ESL teachers to teach other subjects like biology or chemistry. Such requests may sound exceedingly difficult to oblige – nonetheless, you might find yourself in need of a high-quality science/ESL lesson plan.
Feel free to edit these lesson plans to suit your own classroom, such as the hurricane lesson in order to reflect the latest hurricane disaster. You could even create a fictional hurricane for your lessons.
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.
- Breaking Hurricane News
- Brain & Senses
- The Problem with Robots
- Space – the Sun, Moon, Stars and Planets
High School ESL Lesson Plans
Keeping teenagers engaged in their education can be a struggle. If you’ll notice, the topics, concepts, and accompanying terms might be a little advanced for some students, so you may want to adjust accordingly.
This list of lesson plans can help you prepare for the weeks ahead by supplementing any syllabus with educational and interesting topics.
- Doing the Right Thing
- Writing Drama Scripts
- “Back Door” History Lesson
- Compare and Contrast
- Relationships and Dating
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 below 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 quickly and efficiently with maximum comprehension and retention is a cornerstone of English fluency.
Many students will enter the classroom with little to no previous knowledge of English phonetics, grammar, or vocabulary and, depending on their level, it’s up to you to take them from recognizing letters to forming sounds to reading (and absorbing) entire paragraphs.
These reading ESL lesson plans will help you craft lessons for various age groups and can be adapted to suit different levels. Your students will be reading classic English novels in no time.
Grammar ESL Lesson Plans
English grammar is exceptionally challenging for many ESL students. This is largely due to the frequent and vast differences with their native language, as well to the unique complicated structure of proper English.
Accordingly, teaching grammar is a tall order no matter what level your students are. Even experienced teachers sometimes struggle to convey rules that they may have forgotten or had to relearn in the interest of themselves delivering effective ESL instruction.
These grammar ESL lesson plans serve well as the tip of the spear – the basis upon which a strong grammar lesson will be built and a familiar framework upon which less-experienced teachers can rely.
- Using the Conditional
- Past Simple and Asking Questions
- I Spy Lesson Plan (noun + verb + direct object agreement)
- Possessive Adjective
- How To Teach Prepositions Of Place
Pronunciation ESL Lesson Plans
Pronunciation is a particularly difficult skill to teach to non-native speakers. It’s also one of the most-demanded skills by schools that hire foreign teachers.
As a native-speaking foreign English teacher, chances are good that you’ll be asked to focus heavily on pronunciation in your lessons.
In addition to fluency, proper pronunciation can improve the students’ placement in future classes, the ability to get a job, and self-confidence when conversing with other English speakers.
Here is a sampling of the top ESL lesson plans with an emphasis on pronunciation.
- Beginner Pronunciation
- Working with Minimal Pairs
- The One-Computer Classroom
- Pronunciation of Voiceless ‘th’ Sound
- What Did You Say?
Business ESL Lesson Plans
Teaching “business English” effectively — often, by the way, to demanding “type A” corporate personalities with high expectations — poses unique obstacles for an ESL teacher.
Not only are the best topics often advanced, they may be made up of material that falls outside of your expertise. Accordingly, you may need to invest in a bit of self-education on a given topic to prepare for your next business class.
Business ESL lesson plans can play an invaluable role in this situation; not only do they provide a solid foundation to plan your class around, they also provide a template through which you can easily familiarize yourself with the material.
- The Job Interview
- Giving a Presentation
- 4 Business English Lesson Plans
- Teaching Telephone English
- Marketing – Business English
Beginners ESL Lesson Plans
Teaching beginners can be as fun as it is strenuous.
Beginner classes are often filled with younger students full of energy. This classroom dynamic potential makes lessons a lot of fun to teach – but also requires optimal lesson planning to keep their attention.
New teachers are often overwhelmed in terms of 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.
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.
- Absolute Beginners
- Number Recognition
- How to Teach the Alphabet
- What Color Is It?
- Introduce Yourself
Adults ESL Lesson Plans
Adults, having experience in life, tend to appreciate topics that are a bit more “worldly” and relatable. As with all age groups, tailoring your ESL lessons to typically adult interests can encourage greater participation and, ultimately, greater learning.
To accommodate this preference, these ESL lesson plans for adults are almost all based around role play. They 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. As a teacher, your lesson plans pay off most when they stress interaction and, in turn, maximize emotional buy-in from your students.
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 structural similarities in these ESL lessons for kids that you can apply broadly across all your lessons.
Listening ESL Lesson Plans
A student’s ability to listen to and understand 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. You can set the tone for effective listening 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.
- Basic Listening Comprehension
- Listening Comprehension Related to Jobs
- English Listening Lessons (from basic to advanced levels)
- A Man without Money
- How to Listen (/w Ted Talk)
Vocabulary ESL Lesson Plans
No matter what your students’ ages or abilities, learning new vocabulary is a continual process. Even the most advanced native speakers regularly discover new words or phrases they didn’t know existed.
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.
Generally speaking, the most successful vocab-focused lessons introduce and/or reinforce new vocabulary at the beginning of each lesson, then structure the rest of the class around the new terms.
Writing ESL Lesson Plans
Owing to the peculiar grammatical structure and the immense vocabulary of English (English has one of the largest vocabularies of any language on Earth), teaching writing effectively to non-native learners can be taxing – for the teacher and the students.
It’s also one of the most valuable skills for non-native speakers, 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 with impactful ESL lesson plans.
The issue of “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 writing is a muscle that needs to be exercised to stay strong.
- Writing with Style
- Reading, Writing, and Discussion Related to CNN
- Developing a Writing Lesson Plan
- Writing a Creative Story
Preschool ESL Lesson Plans
Of all the age groups to devise an engaging ESL lesson plan for, the preschool age may be the most challenging.
When you instruct this demographic, you will learn quickly just how basic you have to make the lessons if you hope to make them “stick” in the minds of your students. After all, many preschoolers are just beginning to master their own language, much less English.
You’ll also want to make sure that you accommodate your very young learners’ limited attention span when you are planning your lessons with them.
The basic ESL rule of thumb for this age bracket is to keep it short, keep it simple, and keep it fun – i.e., tons of fun games, videos, and interactive activities.
- Actions, Verbs & Tense.
- Shapes in the World.
- Lesson Plan Template for Young Learners.
- Food I like/don’t like
Kindergarten ESL Lesson Plans
How to best develop an ESL plan for your kindergarten students depends heavily on their current skill level: Are they completely new to English, or do they have some basic foundational grasp on the language?
If English is all new to your 5-6-year-old students, you’ll want lesson plans focused on the most essential foundations of English such as the alphabet.
If your kindergarten students have a bit of English education under their belts, you might opt for lesson plans that include slightly more advanced (yet still simple and fun) vocabulary. Introducing the most basic grammatical concepts to this age group may be wise as well.
For maximum absorption and retention of the material, always remember to keep the subject matter light and include lots of moving around to maintain your very young students’ attention throughout the lesson.
Want more? Here are some of the best online resources we found for ESL lesson plans and templates: