How to Plan a Successful Online Lesson

Teaching Pre-Planned Lessons

Since starting my TEFL journey at the start of the year, I have taught on a couple of platforms along with teaching my own students. This has really helped build my experience and confidence teaching online. Both methods have their own positives and drawbacks. Teaching on a company platform usually means lessons are pre-planned, although this isn’t always a guarantee, so make sure to check first so you know what you’re signing up for. Having lessons pre-planned definitely saves a lot of time, especially if a lot of the same material is used across different students. When you have pre planned material, you can generally spend half an hour or so going through new lessons making sure you are confident with what you are due to teach. For lesson material you have taught before, minimal time is needed, more just a refresh to check nothing has changed etc.

Just because pre-planned lessons save planning time, it also means you have no control over what you are teaching. You may end up teaching a topic that you do not feel is relevant or the student has no interest in. Sometimes there is room for developing the topics and expanding the material, but again it depends on the company and sometimes there may not be much room for change.

Planning Your Own Lessons

If you’ve come through the TEFL route, lesson planning is a key part of the course and provides a wealth of information on planning the perfect lesson. Before I plan my lessons, I always have a free lesson/ call with my students first to find out what their English learning requirements are, along with what their interests and hobbies are, so I can plan interesting and relevant lessons for them. Another element that impacts lesson planning, is age, level and how many students will you be teaching! Teaching a 1 on 1 lesson will be very different to teaching a group lesson, and teaching a child aged 5 will be very different to teaching Business English to an adult. All these things need to be taken into consideration when preparing your lessons.

Once you have an idea of what your student’s goals are, you can start planning your lessons! Its important to always start the lesson with a warmer activity or introduction to the topic, so students know what they will be learning about during class and can get into ‘study mode’. The warmer can be a game for a group/ children’s lesson, or just a few questions/ quick conversations on the topic ahead, if it’s an adult class.  Here you can also go over what the aims of the lesson will be with the students, so they know what is expected of them.

The majority of the lesson needs to be around the main lesson topic – again depending how long the lesson is, and the content, you may have a few different topics to teach. Whether the main focus of the lesson is reading, writing, listening, or speaking, this will affect how you will plan your lesson. For example, if you are teaching a vocabulary lesson based on farm animals for children, you can have a warmer activity as a song or quick game. Then the main lesson content can be the farm animals you have chosen to teach, with a picture scene, individual pictures of the animals along with their spellings for example. This will fill the bulk of the lesson, and you can add a couple of games and lots of interactive activities to keep the children engaged and interested for the duration of the lesson.

Before finishing the lesson, its key to ask a few Concept Checking Questions (CCQs) to check the students have understood everything you have taught in the lesson. It’s great if the students have enjoyed the lesson and had fun in the process, but if they haven’t remembered anything that’s been taught…

 Timing is Key

With pre-planned lessons, they are obviously planned to fill the lesson time correctly so there isn’t much need to worry about over running etc. When planning your own lessons, you need to make sure you have planned the lesson time accordingly and planned the relevant content. It is always best to have too much content so that you can leave some out, however you don’t want to have planned your lesson and then run out of material before the end of class! The perfectly planned lesson will ensure your lessons run smoothly and all the material you want covered is.

About Catherine

I am a native English teacher and TEFL qualified. I provide English lessons online via a secure platform and based around each students individual learning requirements. I cover all aspects of English language and conversation ..