Class structure is simple; you need to implement your esl lesson plan into four essential stages. Don’t stray from these stages as they are proven to be most effective when learning a foreign language. When creating a lesson plan on paper or otherwise you need to divide the class into a warm up stage, a presentation stage, a practice stage, and finally a production stage. Class periods usually total 50 minutes and you should spread these stages according to the model below.

Warm-up (5-7 minutes)

The warm-up is purely designed to engage your students in the topic of the day. It is most essential and you shouldn’t start without it. It usually involves something that will shock your students into paying attention. You may also want to open with a short guessing activity that challenges your students and makes them active.  Or your warm-up could be something as simple as a discussion. For example, if the lesson of the day is on describing objects. Start the lesson by writing on the board, “Bread is square, but why is sandwich meat round?” Spend five minutes in an open-ended discussion on why this could be. Elicit answers to questions such as, “Is this true for your sandwich?” “What does your sandwich look like?” “What color is the meat?” “What do you put on your sandwich?” “Do you cut it into halves? Do you cut it triangular or rectangular?” 

While this is just some random example I just created, I’m sure you can come up with better. Create an interesting idea and get people to talk about for five minutes. This will not only lead into what you will be teaching, but it will give students a purpose to learn the material. Maybe some students wanted to say something on the topic, but just couldn’t express it. So now they know they need to learn how to describe objects and things to have a discussion about a real life situation. If you engage them they will be more willing to learn.

Presentation (10 minutes)

This is the most important stage for the learner because you will be presenting material for the student to be able to practice in real life situations. During this stage new language will be taught in a meaningful context. This is where you will wear both your controller and facilitator hat by delivering a model for material in an eloquent way. Deliver the material to students, but also provide questions and elicit answers during this stage.

Generally speaking you want to do lots of eliciting, keeping attention, checking student’s comprehension and responses, and ensuring equal participation.

Practice State (10-15 min)

This is the stage for the learner to be able to practice what they learned for accuracy and can focus on reading, writing, speaking or listening. Learners essentially are getting ready by rehearsing for our next stage. The teacher will act as a facilitator by checking in with students and seeing progress. You want to create tasks for students that are controlled. This means that students will not use newly learned material in a free or open context, but rather be provided with worksheets that allow them to solidify the materiel. Some examples of controlled exercises might be pairing students up to accomplish a matching or ordering activity, have students answer true or false questions, or complete information gap exercises. An information gap exercise is usually when Y student has ‘Y paper’ and Z student has ‘Z paper’ and they must help each other to complete the YZ exercise. The gist of these tasks is that they all have definite right or wrong answers and students will be able to self-check when the exercise is finished.

Production (15-20 minutes)

The goal of production is for students to use what they learned and place it into contextual meaning and produce fluency of material. Students are given an ESL game or activity and must create their own meanings of the material and are able to personalize it to their needs. Generally during this stage students are placed into groups to create a particular project. This can be accomplished with assigning tasks such as role-plays, dramas, games, debates, interviews or writing. Students use the material and focus on fluency rather than accuracy.