Online Course: Principles of Second Language Teaching: Planning, Implementing, and Managing Instruction

Use this discussion thread to share your comments on the ELL-U course, Principles of Second Language Teaching: Planning, Implementing, and Managing Instruction. Please share your thoughts on any of the following questions, or post a general comment or feedback on the course. 
  • Reflect on your current practices. What strategies, activities, or methods are you already using related to each of the topics below? What could be added to your practice?
    • creating learning objectives based on learners' communicative needs
    • using authentic materials
    • sequencing communicative activities that integrate skills and build from more highly structured to more open-ended tasks
    • assessing objectives
    • creating opportunities for learners to get to know each other
    • using classroom routines
    • using topics that are relevant to students' lives and goals
    • using thoughtful grouping strategies
  • What methods do you use for getting to know your students and/or helping them to get to know each other?
  • Share the lesson plan, learner-centered practices, and/or classroom management strategies you developed through the culminating activity.
  • Reflect on what you learned in the course. How has the course helped you to better plan your instruction to meet the needs of the adult ELLs in your  classroom? Which of the topics discussed in the course do you feel you will be able to integrate into your teaching to be more effective in meeting the needs of your learners?


I am currently utilizing all of these strategies in my classroom. I am a TESOL teacher, trained and disciplined in the field of Communicative Competence (HYMES). It makes a large difference when the teacher lets go of the classroom and not keep it under a teacher directed forum. Students learn so much more and at a much faster rate.  Fluency is a focus and I incorporate all of the discourses by Swain and Canale.

I am using a variety of the strategies listed.  One of the challenges I face is that my class is located at a place with no Internet connection and a very limited number of resources.  Therefore, I would like to  be able to aquire additional authentic materials and have the time and materials available to further develop these into successful opportunities for my students.

My students and I spend time getting to know each other on almost a daily basis.  I set up strategies for my students to share about themselves while they are also using the content we are studying.

In one of my Education courses, we folded a piece of paper into 4ths. In each box, we drew a picture responding to a question. (Our family, where we'd like to go, greatest accomplishments, hobbies/talents). At the beginning of each course, groups shared and then one person was reported on to the class each day. Very simple and fun!

We have had "Speed Date" style discussions to start conversations on a topic then the group discusses what they shared in pairs. Students often share even more about topics in the bigger group as they find out what others said in the pair discussions.

My plan is to include use the theme of a visit to a pharmacist for students to create a dialogue (in pairs) in order to communicate what is ailing them and for a pharmacist to make a recommendation.  This will be practical, learner-centered, and will provide a natural grouping opportunity for my students.  Below are the steps I followed in order to develop my plan:                                                                                                                                        

Step 1:  (Factors that may affect learning) Students who have limited L1 literacy.
Step 2:  (Lesson Focus)  A Visit to the Pharmacy

Steps 3/4/5:  (Lesson Objectives, Activities, Assessments)  (Learner Centered Instructional Practices, imbedded) (Classroom Management Strategies, imbedded)


Students will be able to communicate an illness to a pharmacist. 

Students will be able to make recommendations to someone who is sick.


As a whole group, students will brainstorm different illnesses/ailments for which they would speak with a pharmacist.

In pairs, students will read and practice dialogues that are already written.

In pairs, students will create, write, and perform their own dialogue.


*Ongoing:  vocabulary use during brainstorm; feedback/peer review during practice dialogues; feedback/teacher review during development of new dialogue.

While students are waiting for class to begin, a few times a week I place topical picture vocabulary cards in the back of the room.  Students walk through the set-up to review the vacabulary. This is also a speedy pronunciation check if needed. 

As for vocabulary learning, I give a kind of dictation quiz when I read the vocabulary item and students write the definition of it, then I read the definition of another vocabulary item and students write the vocabulary item.  After that students make up sentences or write a story to practice this new vocabulary.

In my next class I plan to have the students start on the computers with their individual work so there is less chance of their arriving in the middle of my presentation of new material.

1. Identify student characteristics and factors that may affect learning.

Students in my beginning level ESL class are all Latina women from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.  They have been in the U.S. from 3 months to 14 years, but all are supported socially by the local Hispanic community in our small town environment.  They range in proficiency from beginning literacy to intermediate low levels and have a widely varied educational background.  Interestingly, the two students who are most hesitant to commit to oral production are a highly educated master’s level physical therapist and a woman with less than one year of formal education in her home country.  They are both very attached to their native language and will only rarely “take a leap” into real communication in English.  They wish to acquire English to help their children in school,  improve their employment prospects and be able to function in the community.  Many have preschool children in the on-site daycare center. 

2. Determine the lesson focus.

At the beginning of the semester, we conducted a student interest survey and discussion, and identified shopping as a theme and understanding spoken information as a function.  This lesson is on an in-store announcement about a sale.

Communicative task:  Listening and Speaking:

Responding to an in-store message to shoppers

Functional phrases (Sociolinguistic Competence)  “Excuse me, where is aisle nine?”  “Excuse me, do you have more of the item on sale?”  “Excuse me, could I have a rain check please?”

Language skills (Discourse Competence) Asking directions in a store; Asking questions about the price of an item; Asking for clarification

Cultural Knowledge (Sociolinguistic Competence) Understanding departments in a store; understanding whom to ask for help;  understanding when it’s OK to disagree, ask for clarification, or ask for a supervisor

Grammar (Linguistic Competence)  formation of questions;  use of adjectives;  use of clarifiers

Vocabulary (Linguistic Competence) sales vocabulary:  on sale, reduced, limited time;  store vocabulary:  shoe/housewares/toy department, aisle, shelf, service department, customer service, salesperson

3. Plan lesson objectives, activities and assessments.

Lesson Focus:  Shopping and Sales

Duration:         2 hours

Objectives:  Students will be able to

1.  identify common items from a department store

2.  ask clarifying questions about price and price reductions

3.  answer questions about a spoken announcement to demonstrate understanding

Skills:  Speaking – use “do/does” to form grammatically correct questions

     - use clarifiers to enhance comprehension

Listening – developing strategies to derive comprehension from spoken information Writing – cloze dictation

Reading – reading a text of the spoken announcement

Materials:  items commonly for sale in department store – limit to 3 departments, e.g.   housewares, clothing, toys

            Instructor-created script for announcing sale item and cloze dictation sheet


Warm-up:                                                                                            20 minutes

Instructor asks if students shop at (Walmart, etc.) and asks what they buy there. Holds up item – knife, for example – and asks if they’ve ever bought one, and asks how much was paid.  Writes item and amount on board.  Continue w/other items.  Instructor asks if Ss know what a sale is; discusses/explains or asks students to explain percent off.  Instructor asks students to calculate 50% off price on the board for knife, 25% off sweatshirt, etc.                      

Activity 1:                                                                                           50 minutes

Instructor models a dialogue between a customer and a salesperson about one of the items, presenting language for asking the price, asking if the item is on sale, and what the sale price is.  Instructor conducts sidebar to review use of do/does in forming questions.  The class practices in a group, and then the instructor asks for volunteers to demonstrate the conversation with different items.  (Differentiated instruction:  more proficient students will tend to volunteer, while those less proficient will opt to listen and absorb.)

Instructor and students construct a second dialogue in which the customer doesn’t receive expected information and asks to speak to a supervisor.  Class discusses how to do this without offense.  Class practices, students volunteer, as before.

Instructor places the store items in 4 or 5 places around the room and divides the class into small groups.  Each group moves from item to item with a different pair of students using either of the model conversations to talk about the item there.  Instructor mingles and assists.  (Differentiated instruction:  lower level students may follow pattern exactly and listen to and observe more proficient peers phrasing more fluently or even improvising a bit.)

Class reconvenes and any questions or confusion are discussed.

Activity 2:                                                                                                       40 minutes

Instructor asks if students have ever heard an announcement to shoppers in a store, and asks for details.  Instructor explains class will practice understanding an announcement.

Instructor reads script 3 times, stopping after each reading to ask students what words and phrases they recognize and writing these on the board.  After the 3rd time, students direct the instructor to put the notes on the board in order and retell or paraphrase the information in the announcement.                       

Instructor writes announcement on the board and asks what words the students recognize in writing that they didn’t understand when spoken and what words are spelled differently from what they thought.  Instructor reads announcement again for pronunciation and asks students to circle words they want to learn.  Instructor notes these for future content.

Instructor distributes a cloze dictation sheet and dictates the announcement. 

Evaluation/Application:                                                                                  10 minutes

Instructor asks students to review what they learned and reflect on when they could use it.  Instructor asks students to notice items for sale when they shop and bring in details or questions for the class.

Instructor asks for other communication needs students have with shopping or related topics to plan for future lessons.

4. Implement learner-centered instruction practices.

Learner-centered practices:

students chose the topic area and function as one that is relevant and useful to them;

differentiated instruction allows learners to participate at their learning level, either volunteering to speak or listening and absorbing the presentation;

use of authentic objects and realistic scenario.

Lesson could have been improved by encouraging self-directed learning – offering picture dictionary and encouraging students to select items they need/want to know about to include in this or subsequent lessons.  The dialogue in which the customer is assertive and asks to speak to a supervisor could be exploited and expanded upon as a basis for a transformational learning experience.

5. Apply classroom management strategies.

Building community – discussion of where students shop and what they buy enhances personal knowledge and community, and usually involves humor

Routines – students are familiar with routine of practicing a modeled conversation and then altering its content;  also, students are familiar with my presentation of verb forms and will be comfortable with the review of question formation

Relevance – shopping and sales are relevant and familiar;  incorporating the need to speak with a salesperson’s supervisor is new, but useful

Grouping – conversation groups will be selected to include all levels in each group so students can benefit from each other’s  proficiency and ability to help each other


Deborah and all,

I especially like the inclusion of sociolinguistic competence in the planning and implementation of this lesson. In addition to giving students tools to express their needs, it is important to tell them why, when, and how to use these tools so they do not offend, and get the best benefit possible when they venture out to use their English. I am pleased that you are able to include this competence in your work with beginning-level learners. Your lesson also shows the importance of working with the students to create the conversation– the dialog where the shopper doesn’t get what she wants/needs is co-constructed with teacher and students. I expect this is when the teacher can take the opportunity to explain/demonstrate the appropriateness of the language used and when and to whom to use it with.

This issue of sociolinguistic competence surfaced earlier this year in the postings on Online Course: Second Language Acquisition: Myths, Beliefs, and What the Research Shows.I am interested in how teachers include this important factor in their instruction with all levels and will start a new discussion on the topic. Looking forward to further conversation on this aspect of language and language learning..





A Lesson Plan for Attendance/Absence Vocabulary and Skill

Student Need:  Class participants are parents of ELL students, who are learning the vocabulary and language skills to communicate with their children’s’ school and their own workplace regarding health and attendance. Their countries of origin vary as do their length of time in the US and their English speaking levels. Other factors that may affect their learning include their prior educational experience, access to phones and familiarity with telephone etiquette. Cultural experience regarding expectations for reporting absences may also be a factor. In previous lessons student have learned to answer basic identification questions and some health related vocabulary. This lesson teaches students to leave a basic machine message for when they need to call their child in sick for school. They will then practice calling their own boss to say they won’t be able to come to work.

Lesson Focus:  This real life problem solving issue will motivate students to participate in the class lesson and practice the new skills. Students will use and develop their listening, speaking, reading and writing in order to learn to communicate effectively with school officials and their own boss. Their learning will move from accuracy – leaving the basic information requested by the school’s attendance office - to fluency –communicating directly with their boss. The lesson allows students to share family and work information with each other as they learn the new skills. They will also have an opportunity to learn about American culture and their local school rules.

Activity:  Following a period of computer time to review vocabulary previously learned students will listen to the local school’s attendance/absence line recording to determine what information is being requested. The teacher will repeat the message three times before asking students to tell what information is wanted. The teacher then writes the list of information provided by the students on the board: your name, your child’s/student’s name, relationship to the child, reason for absence, length of absence. As students catch on to the request they can write down what they need to say in response. The teacher can repeat the school’s message as many times as students desire. The teacher will ask for a student to volunteer to share their response with the class as an example for the class. Students then will practice their information out loud with a partner and then say it for the class as assessment.

Extension:  Next, the teacher and students will discuss how this knowledge will help them call their own boss and what they still need to successfully call themselves in sick. A key point is that they usually speak directly with the boss rather than leaving a recorded message. Instead of a monologue they will need to dialogue with another person who may respond in a variety of ways. The teacher and a volunteer student will then role play a phone dialogue modeling this type of conversation. The class will discuss what additional information would help students get their message across to their boss. Then students will practice phone dialogues with a partner, those with better English skills acting as the boss and those with less calling in sick. They will change partners randomly a few times, each pair choosing who will be boss and worker, to get a variety of experience making calls. Lastly, they each will role play a call for the whole class as assessment. The teacher can act as a boss for those students with advanced English skills. Students can then discuss any improvements still needed.

Culture connection:  Following the practice for phone messages and direct conversation, the school rules regarding attendance and absences will be explained by the teacher. At this point, students will have an opportunity to discuss among themselves and create a list of reasons people use when calling in sick. Students will then evaluate the list of reasons as to their validity in American culture by breaking into two self-chosen groups. One group will evaluate reasons for a school absence and the other will evaluate reasons for work. There may be discussion related to work/school attendance/absence in the students’ home countries.

Thanks, Mari, for sharing these details about your lesson focused on making phone calls. This lesson engages learners in listening, speaking, reading and writing for real world purposes and integrates important aspects of culture regarding expectations at school and work.

We all know that using the phone is one of the most challenging tasks for language learners, so focusing instruction on the language needed when using the phone is going to be helpful to learners. Here are some resources that teachers might find useful when planning phone calling lessons: .Telephone Skills Resource Kit by Valerie Glass and set of telephone activities for adult learners provided by Claude Pesce.

If members have strategies for instruction on using the phone, please let us know.

Cheers, Susan Finn Milller

Moderator, English Language Acquisition CoP


Many good lesson plans can be developed around use of the phone.  In my multilevel class, which includes students from different countries, everyone has a phone.  We use it to practice grammar (I have a phone, he has a phone) as well as phone conversations. The students come on Saturday, which means that most of them are working during the week.  They have been in the U.S. from 2 months to two years, and their speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills are low.  I try to provide open ended activities so that the lowest and highest level students can be included and make gains. 

Successfully completing a phone call is vitally important for an ELL.  It is an authentic task, and in the case of calling a doctor for a sick child, a critical one.  It requires  a fair amount of vocabulary and grammar,  discourse competence (what information to give first, etc.) sociolinguistic competence (polite forms of address), cultural knowledge (custom of speaking to secretary or nurse before doctor, necessity of waiting), and strategic competence (switching gears to answer various questions, recognizing different words or phrases which mean the same thing, etc).

By the time I present this lesson, the class is acquainted and the students are easy with each other.  In the first few lessons of the session, students introduce each other and find their countries of origin on a map.  We do a "like" exercise to see who likes coffee and who likes tea.  I mix up the seating.  I leave the group alone for break.  I leave out food ads and magazines to look at and talk about.

Preparations for this lesson:

The students have been building  health vocabulary during the two previous lessons.  The vocabulary includes body parts (eye, head, etc) and aliments (fever, cough, stomachache etc), common treatments (drink water, take Tylenol), and other pertinent nouns and verbs (emergency, appointment, doctor, nurse, secretary, to be, to have, to need, etc)  They have also been working on grammar for present tense verbs.  Students by now are familiar with answering basic information questions such as What is your phone number?  When were you born? etc. As help with these skills, I use the Ventures Series, Book 1, especially the lesson on health.

Activites: I first ask students to tell me when they use their phone to talk to someone (as opposed to texting).  Elicit responses such as "to talk to my mom,"  and eventually to call the doctor.  When do they call the doctor?  When someone is sick, when they need to make an appointment.

Next, I write a sample dialogue on the board.  For example, A: Hello.  My name is Rosa Gonzales.  My daughter is very sick.  Can I make an appointment?

                                                                          B.  Hello.  What is your daughter's name?

                                                                          A. Her name is Maria Gonzales.                                                                                               

                                                                            B.  What are her symptoms? or What is wrong?

                                                                            A.  She has a cough and a fever.   

                                                                            B.  The doctor can see her today at 4:00.  Is that okay?

                                                                             A.  Yes.  We will come today at 4:00

This dialogue can easily be adjusted, according the students' ability. I read it aloud twice, then have students read the entire conversation.  Then we split into groups of A and B and read it again.  Then we switch groups.  Finally, students pair up to practice several times (as A and B), reading the dialogue and then improvising. Then I ask individual pairs to stand up and do the conversation, in front of the  class. 

Finally, I take the doctor's role and have students call me.  At this point I throw in a few curves (change the wording a little, add another question) to see how well they can improvise (strategic discourse!)

As a follow-up activity, I pass out "ailment" cards (headache, flu, cold).  Students form into groups (each with varying abilities) and discuss what do to if child  (or themselves) have this problem. Call the doctor?  Wait?  Take Tylenol?  Call 911? Etc.  A secretary in each group writes down the ideas and reports.  I write the ideas on the board and the entire group discusses them.




I also teach beginning ESL students.  To identify my students, most of them are Latino and migrant workers.  Therefore, most of them lack academic knowledge. They attend ESL classes with the goal of learning the language and to help their children with school activities.  One of the lessons I taught was health and visiting the doctor; this is because is one they need the most.  I started by asking students if they have been at the physician office or the hospital.  Most od the students replied they avoid going because they do not know how to communicate or express how they feel.  I helped them with the basic vocabulary, using google images and an online dictionary.  The pictures help students visualize what they are learning while the online dictionary assists with correct pronunciation.  To help the student with grammar, I assist students with a dictation using the vocabulary words.  After, they mastered the vocabulary and some other activities I made groups of students where they had to role play.  I need to address that I used a patient registration form to help and guide students on how they need to complete the form.  I also explained insurance policies and how to complete they information.  The objective of the lesson was to assist students with daily basic skills and to help them with self-confidence.  It was a success. However, this lesson took more than two weeks to complete.

Hi Nydia, I appreciate your acknowledging that these lessons on going to the doctor took time. I think sometimes we teachers rush through important topics much too quickly for learners to absorb the language they are learning. Taking time and recycling the language in a variety of ways through activities that engage learners in interacting with one another in meaningful exchanges, as you have shown, will be most effective.

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, English Language Acquisition CoP

My ESL classes take place at off-campus locations such as churches, libraries, factories and small stores, in the community. The class make-up are multiracial (over fifteen nationalities), multilevel, and multigenerational (ages range from 23-65).   Different grouping strategies, role-play, total physical response, cooperative learning, and learner-centered instruction are part of class dynamics. Through this course I would like to learn (or improve) some strategies for adjusting and adapting ESL lesson plans as well as class dynamics for multilevel classes.

Hello Abraham, You have identified an area that most teachers would agree is quite challenging, i.e., teaching a multilevel class. While all adult ESL classes are multilevel, as you know, some are a lot more multilevel than others. You've identified a number of activities that can be effectively used with learners at different levels. Through this ELLU course, you are certain to learn about additional ways to adapt your teaching to address the diverse needs of the wide range of learners you teach.

Good luck!

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, English Language Acquisition

The majority of ESOL students in my class are Latino. This lesson offers information about services in our community that help immigrants find better jobs and hope to help create happier lives. As well we hope that they can see how the U.S.A. differs from their own countries in the field of job search.Opportunity for grammar practice, new vocabulary, real life scenarios and application are part of the lesson.


It begins with a short article for the students to read.

Then vocabulary and questions are offered, as well as writing exercise, discussion and application on the web.


Meet Susan Barrett!                                                                                                                                                                               

Susan works for BRCC’s Human Resources Development Department (the same department that Stacy works for.) However, Susan works at a different location. Her office is at Goodwill Industries. It is located in the shopping mall near Applebee’s in Hendersonville. Susan is also a ‘people developer’.

 Susan counsels, motivates and helps people improve their lives. She also teaches English! Susan has two jobs. She works at Goodwill Industries and teaches English for speakers of other languages at BRCC. (Susan graduated from the Interpreter Program at BRCC. She also loves to make pottery!)

As a teacher, Susan helps students improve their English skills. Some of her students study for the U.S. citizenship test. Learning English is very important and can help you find a good job. Susan says that English language skills give you an advantage at work. If you speak English well, you will communicate better with your boss. Good communication develops trust between you and your boss. Your boss will give you more responsibility. More responsibility at work usually means more money, too.

Susan knows a lot about how to find a job in Henderson County. Most ESL families find jobs in:

  •  Agriculture: Picking & Packing
  • Starting their own small business -  (Mountain Biz Works helps with this)
  • Mexican Restaurants or businesses

But other jobs are possible if your English is good!

Susan understands the obstacles clients meet. For example, more and more companies require E-verify. E-verify researches the information on your job application. E-verify can discover if you are documented or undocumented. If you are undocumented, you cannot get many jobs.  

 If you do not have a GED, it will also limit your job possibilities. Approximately 80% of jobs require a GED. Companies select people with  GEDs  first. If you have a GED, your opportunities increase. You can get a GED in Spanish instead of English. El Centro can help you with this.  A GED in Spanish makes you Spanish literate at a 12th grade level!

Did you know that volunteering can help you find a good job?  If you volunteer you will feel better about yourself and your place in the world. Your English skills also improve when you volunteer.  You meet more people. You can tell people in your community, at church and in school that you are looking for work. Tell people what kind of work you want, and be specific. This is called networking. Seventy percent (70%) of jobs are not advertised! Network in your community- volunteer and tell people what kind of work you want.

You can do other things that will help you find a great job. You can study for a CRC Career Readiness certificate at Joblink (remember- at BRCC).  A CRC can really help you get a job. You can create a personal resume. A resume is a history of your education and work experience. A resume helps an employer learn about you and your skills. Susan helps people develop resumes. You need a resume when you apply for a job. It is also important to have computer skills. Today job applications are often totally online. You must know how to upload your resume into the computer. At the Goodwill Center, Susan can teach you these skills.

 Susan loves to help people improve their lives. It is fun and she learns so much from other people.

 At the Goodwill Center there is a bulletin board called the Wall of Stars. On that board are the names of people who found help at the Goodwill Center. You could also be a star on that wall!  Visit Susan at the Goodwill Center and get started!



New Vocabulary






bulletin board




To volunteer

To tell

To communicate

To trust

To require

To limit

To improve

To upload


Please use the following words to fill in the blanks.

pottery                   trusts

improve                upload



  1. Susan thinks that __________________can help you find a good job.
  2. If your boss ____________ you, your boss may give you more responsibility and money.
  3. When you fill out an application online, you might need to _____________ your resume.
  4.  Susan loves to make______________.
  5. Susan helps people _______________________ their lives.



In your own words……Please write complete sentences

  1. Where is Susan’s office located?
  2. What is E-verify?
  3. What is the Wall of Stars?
  4. What are some of the obstacles you might meet looking for a job?
  5. What is a resume?


For Classroom Discussion

Have you experienced Networking here in the U.S.?

How about in your own native country?


Please journal your thoughts about this lesson in your notebooks.

Write at least five sentences.



Type:    creating a resume    into your search engine.

Look at a sample resume. Start to record your own personal information for your resume.




SDome of the activities I sue for helping students to get to know each other are:

a) Ask them to choose an animal that represents their "personality," then they explain why they chose a particular animal.

b) Activity called ,Party Guests Mingle", students walk around the class introducing themselves and intrucing a friend.

I, too, have the students do presentations in class. New students (new to the class) usually tell us all about themselves. These presentations are always so informative and heartwarming. :) Students who have been in the class for some time present "how to" demonstrations. During these presentations, we learn about each other's likes and dislikes, the student gets to practice sequencing, and we walk out of the classroom with something each of us has made! These presentations are probably one of the things I like most about our class!

Hi Mary, Thanks for sharing how you create opportunities for learners to get to know one another. This is so important and goes a long ways to creating a safe space for learning. At the start of a new class, I like to have students interview each other and then create a Venn diagram of how they are similar and different. From the information in the Venn diagram, they then write a compare and contrast paragraph.This activity, requires some  academic language and engages students in critical thinking. I've had good luck with this even with learners at the beginning level. I provide models and language support as needed.

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, English Language Acquisition XCoP

Lupita is a middle-aged mother of two in an ESL class at an off-campus community college program.  She had only three years of schooling in her home country. She came to the U.S. twenty years ago, and never attended any ESL program before until now.  She understands and can communicate fairly well in English, but she cannot read or write in her second language.  Lupita is a very motivated and perseverant student, now their children (who interpreted for her in the past) are young working adults; she wants to improve her reading and writing skills to be more linguistically independent in her L2.


LESSON PLAN – Community Places

My lesson plan focuses on different community institutions where Lupita (and other students with similar goals as Lupita) may need to communicate. Class dynamics will include dialogues, role-plays, and problem solving situations.

Objectives:  Students will be able to role-play as customer, customer service staff, business owners, etc. by the end of the lesson; students will be able to communicate in diverse community service locations.

Activities:  Dialogues, asking and answering questions in different situations.

Assessment: comprehension and appropriate use of language answering and asking questions.

LESSON PLAN – Community Places

My lesson plan focuses on different community institutions where Lupita (and other students with similar goals as Lupita) may need to communicate. Class dynamics will include dialogues, role-plays, and problem solving situations.

Objectives:  Students will be able to role-play as customer, customer service staff, business owners, etc. by the end of the lesson; students will be able to communicate in diverse community service locations.

Activities:  Dialogues, asking and answering questions in different situations.

Assessment: comprehension and appropriate use of language answering and asking questions.

Learner-centered practices:  The lesson focus will be based on the students’ needs, communication in different community places.

Applying Classroom management strategies:

  1. Building class community: students will work in groups, role-play, and interact with each other.
  2. Importance of topic: students use (or are familiar) with most community places I ntown.
  3. Grouping: students will be grouped based on their L2 proficiency level and common interests.

My ESL classes take place at off-campus locations such as churches, libraries, factories and small stores as earlier stated. The classes make-up are multiracial, multilevel, and multigenerational (ages range from 23-65).   This course haves given great insights in how to implement grouping strategies, role-play, total physical response, cooperative learning, and learner-centered instruction. At the beginning of the course I did not know most of the information I learned.   

I start my first class by having each student stand and tell the class their name and their country of origin. Then I will ask various students questions such as, "Are you married?, How many children do you have?, what is your favoritite native dish?, Who is a better cook you or your spouse? Who is your favorite relative? Why?, What do you and this relative like to do together? What is your favorite family activity?" These questions invite, even compel other students to join in and comment or ask questions. This process helps the students to feel comfortable in the class and friendships are formed.

We do this with a "Pair and Share" activity. Students exchange information about themselves (country of origin, where they live now and how long they have been in America) with one other person, then that person shares the info with the class. So they are introducing the other person not themselves and that makes it easier/more comfortable.

I start my first class by having eanc student stand and tell the class their name and their country of origin. Then I ask verious students questions such as, Are you married? How many children do you have? What is your favorite native dish? Whi is a better cook you or your spouse? Whi is your favorite relative? Why? What do you and this relative do together? What is your favorite family activity? What is your favorite dish cooked by your mother? These questions invite, even compel other students to comment or ask questions. This process helps the students to feel comfortable in the class and friendships are formed.

I have been using many of the strategies, methods, and practices taught in the "Principles of Second Language Teaching: Planning, Implementing, and Managing Instruction" Course. I haven't (until now) used student self-evaluation. I also haven't been using a written lesson plan.

I start a lesson by reviewing the previous lesson and relating it to the lesson I'm about to teach.

Here is my next lesson plan:

Class Level: Beginning ESL and Intermediate Beginners

Topic: Finding a job

Class Length: 3 hours

Lesson Objective: students will be able to use adverbs of frequency , learn new English phrases concerning employment, new vocabulary words.

Enabling Skills: Predict what presentation is about, quess unknown words/phrases, use present knowledge to understand new material, identify relative points presented in new material.

Language Skill Proficiency Focus: Listening, Speaking, Writing, Reading

Materials and Equipment: Handout whiteboard, pictures

Warm up/Review: Review previous lesson, "Understanding Job Ads"

Introduction: Seguey to next lesson, "Finding a Job in the U.S." and read "Oscar's Story" about finding a job. Ask students, "How did you get your first job? How did you feel about getting your first job.

Presentation: Relate previous material to new material, check students comprehension, use pictures and gestures.

Guided Practices: Student tell ways to job search, pair work to further develop wats to job search, group work drawing pictures of job search materials, introduce adverbs of frequency.

Communitive Practice: Students interview each other (five interviews), use adverbs during interviews, Teacher gives presentation of personal interest and students mark adverbs used in presentation on handout provided, Students read 3 short stories of job search activities of others and write comprehension answers, students create (working in groups) job finding techniques brochure

Evaluation: Check list of how well you use job search techniques, Check list of adverbs and job search words you have learned and can use.

Application: Students write how they will use job search information they have learned. Students give an oral presentation of how they will conduct their job search, Role play calling a prospective employer to garner more infromation concerning jobs listed without sufficient details (pay not listed, benefits not mentioned, sift or hours not stated, name of company not mentioned, company location not indicated).

The course said that routine is welcomed by the students. I found this true while teaching in Special Education. These students don't like surprises or change. However I was of the mind that adult learners would become bored with routine. I am re-thinking this point.

When I start my first class, we play a game as an icebreaker.  Everyone sits in a circle; one student starts off saying his name and his hobby, the next student repeats the name of the fist student and their hobby and then says his/her name and his/her hobby. Everyone in the circle repeats all previous students' names and then their own.  I, as the last person, repeat all students' names and their hobbies.

This is good for all levels; students relax and get comfortable in the class with their classmates and the teacher as well. 

I have definitely learned that I need to scaffold my lessons better. I have always tried scaffolding, but I think I give my Intermediate level students too much credit. Some of my students seem to think they know more than they do and I believed the hype because they talk well but their writing skills are not the same. I will start at a lower level and build up from there. Also, I need to do more small groups. I do pairs and because of class size sometimes it is hard to do small groups. I need to use more materials like the sentence strips, colored index cards, and chart paper. I do use computers and the interactive SMARTboard. I still need to work on making it even more kinetic.I need to get back to the choral fashion of repetition that I used to do. Saw some fun games to like the fly swatter and matching the clauses.
I have definitely learned that I need to scaffold my lessons better. I have always tried scaffolding, but I think I give my Intermediate level students too much credit. Some of my students seem to think they know more than they do and I believed the hype because they talk well but their writing skills are not the same. I will start at a lower level and build up from there. Also, I need to do more small groups. I do pairs and because of class size sometimes it is hard to do small groups. I need to use more materials like the sentence strips, colored index cards, and chart paper. I do use computers and the interactive SMARTboard. I still need to work on making it even more kinetic.I need to get back to the choral fashion of repetition that I used to do. Saw some fun games to like the fly swatter and matching the clauses.

Currently, there is a large focus on fostering a sense of community, classroom management, and teaching to thee skills that my students will need in their given field, but there is certainly room for improvement. I am co-teaching with a vocational/ continuing education certificate subject area teacher and my ESL support class occurs 20 minutes after their content course ends. While I try to create learning objectives in advance, occaisionally a content area will stump them and, I must re-arrange our focus. I would like to become more comfortable creating, revising, and critiquing my the learning objectives that I create. 

5 Steps for Planning, Implementing & and Managing my class:


1) Factors affecting learning:

Even though the class is small, there are a variety of literacy levels and varying lengths of time in the US. The class is also 90% Hispanic with only one non-Spanish speaker.  motivation and confidence to speak in class also varies by student.  Some students are in the work forcea dn some are stay-at-home moms. One student is practicing to seek citizenship and one student is trying to improve his competency/certification on a machine at work. Each student has uniuique reasons for his or her presence in class.  


2). The goal for my lesson would be to have each student present a recipe to the class.  We are currently working on a unit in foods.

Lesson Focus chart:

Functional phrases: polite phrases like:

"I would like to tell you about..."  Or ""thank you for listening to my presentation."

Language skills- Discourse Comp.:

Be able to describe steps of the recipe in order so that the process make sense.


effective use of foods, containers, amounts, utensils, ordinal adjectives

Communication Strategies:

Be able to ask and answer questions offered from students in class.  Classroom students should be able to ask clarifying questions if they have them.


3) I have difficulty with formal assessment for this lesson plan.  I would use an integrated ongoing approach to my assessment but am not sure how to indicate that here.

My template is based on the one from the ESL Literacy Network Toolbox.

Plan: Students will each present a recipe to the class

Theme: foods, measure and process

Listening: Student will be able to listen to questions from fellow students and will attempt to answer with help.

Students in class room will listen to the presentation and ask clarifying questions as needed.

Speaking:  Student will present recipe step by step using ordinal adjectives and vocabulary such as foods, containers, measures and utensils.

Reading: students will read and follow along as the presenter presents the recipe.

Writing: The presenting student will provide class members with a written copy of the recipe.


4)Student Centered Learning

this activity will be guided by the teacher in preparation but the students will have the opportunity to:

-seek out their own recipes

- research the vocabulary needed for the presentation

- have access to personal' teacher and internet resources.


5) classroom management strategies:

we have already worked on introductions, discussed family structures, and explored shopping habits in other lessons so the students have some cohesion with on another.Our regular habit is to discuss the calendar in past, present and future termsat the opening of each class.   This includes ordinal numbers.  The exercise above will be a culminating lesson of language skills developed in previous lessons and are important to the learner at a life skill level for navigating a grocery store and understanding amounts.

Thank you for this opportunity to share.  I appreciate any comments.



Thanks, Beth, for sharing your lesson and for your invitation for us to comment. Here a a few of my thoughts and questions:

1. The lesson sounds very useful for language, numeracy, and cultural skills (shopping habits, eating habits, family roles, fast food culture versus real food, etc.) Do you address some of these topics during this lesson?

2. Do you discuss the difference between metric and US system of measurement?

3. It sounds like you have a good scope and sequence for where this lesson fits in. Do you discuss with your students why they are doing this lesson, what specific vocabulary and structures they will be practicing, and how these vocabulary and structures can be used in other contexts and situations?

A quick story to illustrate my comments above: When I lived in Barcelona in the late 70s, I usually shopped in a small markets or delis, or stores where I actually had to speak to the grocer – or the other customers - to be served. For example, in the bread shop I learned to ask loudly upon entering the store, “Quien es la ultima?”:  “Who’s the last one?” or as we might say, “Where’s the end of the line?” (Or we might pick up a number.) Usually I didn’t have to say it more than once or twice before someone would identify herself as the last in line. Learning that phrase was very useful for many contexts.

Other thoughts? Thanks, again, Beth.

Miriam, SME, Adult ELL


  • My ESL class, located on campus, is mostly Spanish speaking but also includes a few Hmong students. They are pre-GED level and so we use a more academically-focused approach, but also include a great deal of pronunciation, vocabulary work and interactive discussions in order to meet their varied educational backgrounds. This is also how we all get to know each other. We have recently been using a civics blog where students from all of the different level classes can interact by posting a response to a question and then commenting on each other's posts. They really enjoy learning about the many different perspectives just within our school. The computer skills they have learned have also been a plus. They have expressed a real desire to become more computer literate as they realize the neccessity.
  • I am currently using many of the techniques that were discussed in the course, but I find my biggest challenge to be the inconsistency in attendence, which makes it so difficult to really get into a large project, or build on a topic with scaffolding. Each class must be almost free-standing in scope. This has always been an issue in the ESL classes, and while I am very aware of the causes, i.e. work schedules, family issues, etc., it can greatly affect the group dynamic from day to day. However, I do try to maintain a weekly routine which helps them know what to expect and to see progress in their achievements.

The weekly routine is a great idea. I have just returned from COABE, where I attended some excellent presentations. In one of them, Dr. Helaine Marshall and Dr. Andrea DeCapua in their workshop on culturally responsive instruction for struggling language learners, pointed out the importance of routine for learners, especially those with limited or interrupted education. (See



CLT Lesson Plan for ESL Classroom

Title: How to call 911 when there is an emergency

The lesson objective is to equip each student with the ability to call 911 and clearly state their emergency, name and location to the operator.

For what level of learners is this appropriate: This lesson is appropriate for all levels of students.  After this lesson, and practice in subsequent class times, students will have the ability to call 911 in case of an emergency and give their name, address and at use at least one word to describe an emergency or a portion of an emergency.

Does the lesson present language within the real-life contexts that learners will encounter? How?:  Yes, real-life language will be taught to students. Low level students will be taught to say one or two word emergency situations such as FIRE, BLEEDING, PERSON HURT, NOT BREATHING, etc. Students will write on cards their names and addresses to keep with them in case they must call 911. Discussion about what is NOT an emergency will take place as well.

What activities does the lesson use to get learners to interact with each other to exchange information and solve problems in situations that resemble real-life communication?:  Students will write scripts for role-plays of different emergency scenarios such as a fire in their home, a loved one having trouble breathing, witnessing a car accident with injuries, etc.

How does the lesson integrate all four skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking?):  Students will write scripts for calling 911 and read them with other students. Students will listen to others presenting their scenarios. Speaking their names and addresses, as well as spelling both, will be encouraged. Students will be put in groups as well as partnered to practice these skills.

How does the lesson balance the focus on fluency and accuracy?: Low level student will be taught the most basic words to express an emergency and taught correct pronunciation to help with communication to 911 operators. Higher level students will be taught complete sentences as their understanding allows. All students will practice with each other pronunciation and whether or not the listener can understand what the emergency is that the student is talking about. Higher lever students will be paired with lower level students to help with pronunciation and comprehension.

What authentic materials does the lesson use?:  Photographs of fires and car accidents from newspapers or magazines will be used.



This was a very enjoyable and interesting way for me, as new instructor in the ESL classroom, to learn many different strategies to help my students.  I believe it is very important to present clear, usable information to ESL learners. Too many small details, especially in the beginning, can bog down a students and frustrate them. Thank you for all the great ideas and the solid information about how students learn.

Based on what I have learned I will have more concern for including all literacy skills, reading, writing, listening and speaking, in each and every lesson. I will be planning lessons that move from accuracy to fluency. As a high school educator I have always made an effort to make my lessons relevant to students' daily lives, this class has reinforced that belief in relevancy. I plan to include more opportunities for student interaction, more routines and more authentic materials in my lesson plans.


  1. Identify student characteristics and factors that may affect learning.


  • Class attendance prior to lesson
  • General well-being of student that day (work, childcare, physical health)
  1. Determine lesson focus.


  • Possessive adjectives and possessives
  1. Plan lesson objectives, activities, and assessments.


  • See Step-By-Step: T-32 & T-33
  1. Implement learner-centered instruction practices.


  • Students determine questions to ask classmates; answer their own questions, and decide who to interview
  1. Apply classroom management strategies.


  • Apply rules for giving classmate’s response. Also provide structure for returning work to teacher

Lesson Overview

Theme: Recognize and use possessive adjectives to describe people

Level: Low and Intermediate Beginning

Content Pillar: Cultural Expectations



Proficiency Descriptor:



Read and understand conversations that involve possessives of other people.

Write the answers to comprehension questions.



Write questions to ask a partner. Answer questions and write partner’s answers, as well.

Correct completion of “Practice Possessives” chart that goes with these questions.

Literacy Strategies:


Read and circle correct response for possessive cloze

Correct responses


Write four sentences about classmates and teacher

Correct sentences using possessive


Correct spelling of words

One portion of the work requires changing a possessive into His or Her. Sentences that are rewritten should be spelled correctly.

Habit of Mind:

 Use of possessives with apostrophe and interchanging with possessive adjectives

Lesson Resources:

Podnecky, Janet. Step Forward : Workbook. New York: Oxford UP, 2008. Print.

Santamaria, Jenni Currie. Step Forward: Step-By-Step Lesson Plans. New York: Oxford UP, 2008. Print.

Spigarelli, Jane. Step Forward 1: Language for Everyday Life. New York: Oxford UP, 2008. Print.


Class Level: Beginning ESL

Topic: Possessives and Possessive Adjectives

Class Length: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Lesson Objective: Students will use possessive adjectives to describe people.

Language Skill Proficiency Focus: Listening, Speaking, Writing, Reading

Materials and Equipment: iPad, CD player, Step Forward CD, Workbook p 18-19, Multilevel Activity Book p. 40

Warm up/Review: Show pictures of celebrities on iPad and says sentences about them: “His hair is red. Her hair is blond. His hair is brown.”

Introduction: Write those sentences on the board and say, “Today we will use possessives to describe people.”

Presentation: Looking at picture on p. 32, ask questions: “Is her hair blond?” “Is his hair brown?”

Guided Practice: students circle the correct answers and speak in complete sentences. Students will create 5 more sentences using different possessive adjectives.

Communicative Practice: Students interview 2 classmates about eye color, name, and hair color. They write and say sentences about partners’ answers.

Evaluation: Students will write 4 sentences about teacher and/or classmates.

Application: Similar to the game of Telephone, students write a story together about a family, passing a page around their groups.


Identify student characteristics and factors that may affect learning.

  • Class attendance prior to lesson
  • General well-being of student that day (work, childcare, physical health)

Determine lesson focus.

  • Possessive adjectives and possessives

Plan lesson objectives, activities, and assessments.

  • See Step-By-Step: T-32 & T-33

Implement learner-centered instruction practices.

  • Students answer their own questions, and decide who to interview

Apply classroom management strategies.

  • Apply rules for giving classmate’s response. Also provide structure for returning work to teacher

I have not actually started teaching yet, but here is a brainstormed lesson plan based on the class observations I have conducted, as well as the online training modules, of course!

  1. Student Characteristics and Factors that may affect learning
    • They are all from different countries and at a fairly beginning level. Most of them prefer to refer to translations they give each other than actually speaking and learning in English (we’ll work on it). All from central or south America with stable family experiences and simply want to communicate in English. Some want advanced degrees. All will eventually want citizenship, and they vary with schedules and jobs.
  2. Determine Lesson Focus
    • Functional life activities: Right now the unit we are working on describes objects in the home and community. Vocabulary/functioning discourse: describing the objects in the home. I want them to be able to send someone else to the store to buy objects, ask a cashier if they can’t find something, and be able to travel to another store to get it if they need to.
  3. Plan lesson objectives,  activities, and assessments
    • Objectives: I want them to be able to send someone else to the store to buy objects, ask a cashier if they can’t find something, and be able to travel to another store to get it if they need to.
    • Activities: First we will go over the vocab words from the section in the book, and then do a guided dialogue from the book with a partner, writing down the answers. Next, I will ask questions about where they go in the community to buy the different things from the book (food, toiletry items, and things in the home) and elicit responses. We will do some choral practice and then I will set a few lists of places and items. Given these lists, they will work with partners to create their own dialogue. Next I will ask them to work with a different partner and talk about the last time they went to the store.
    • Assessments: I will be able to walk around and listen for any problems and give feedback, and students will be able to give feedback as well. With the written down answers they will be able to self-correct as well as go back and see what we talked about that day.
  4. Implement learner-centered instruction practices
    • I think an interesting thing would be to use the board and set up three different “stores”: grocery, home/Target/Home Depot, and a pharmacy type store. They could work in groups and send one member up and if I called out an item, they could tell their group member which store to go to. I could also use corners of the room. This way, they could interact, use total physical response, and it would feel like a game. 
  5. Apply classroom management strategies
    • Journal: I really liked the journaling idea presented throughout the training modules. Even with beginning learners, I think starting to write a sentence or two at the beginning and end of class would be terrific. At the beginning I could introduce a topic or question for the day and have them write predictions, and at the end we could have a wrap-up of the things they learned or what to know more about. I would keep the journals to direct my planning for the next lessons.
    • Agenda on the board when they walk in, and once the vocab words are on the board, leave them there for the entire class/unit
    • Get to know you: I want the students to make name cards, both to help me and each other. On the inside of the folded part, we can have a different discussion topic to start each day with (countries they’re from, how long they’ve been in the states, other places they’ve traveled, etc.)


One thing I will need to brainstorm more is my grouping strategies, but that will depend on the size of the class!

Here is my assignment for this course.

1. Identify student characteristics and factors that may affect learning

This class is a small, multi-level class.  Usually about six students are present. All current students are from Mexico. Four are high intermediate, one is low beginning, and one is high beginning. Their goals and motivations include: taking better care of children and grandchildren and helping with their education, advancing their own education, traveling, getting better jobs, and working more effectively with customers in their current jobs.

The most important consideration in lesson planning for these learners is the range of levels. Another consideration is the unpredictability of attendance. In planning lessons for this class, I usually include some whole-group activities, as well as lessons and activities by level or in mixed-level pairs.  The class is too small to break into several groups, so activities such as jigsaws are difficult. On the other hand, there is time to give a lot of individual attention and feedback.

2. Lesson Focus: Public Transportation Schedules and Communication

All of the students drive in their neighborhoods and to class, but they have expressed interest in learning how to take trains or subways for trips to other cities, or when they are visiting other cities where public transportation is essential, such as New York City or Washington D.C.

  • Communicative Task: Talk about train and subway schedules and routes; ask for directions when in a strange city; ask about costs of transportation
  • Functional phrases: Asking for directions, e.g., What time, Where, When, How long, How much? For higher-level students, asking for more detailed information on train and subway schedules, e.g., how to transfer lines
  • Language skills: Reading and analyzing transportation schedules; listening to directions; reading schedules on websites; interpreting costs of transportation options
  • Cultural Knowledge: Knowing where the train or bus stations are; knowing where the train and buses travel; knowing what time they travel
  • Grammar: Question forms for present tense (When does the train leave? Where is the train station? How much does it cost?)
  • Vocabulary: Schedule; station; subway; arrival; departure; distance; etc. Also, time of day vocabulary (this is review for most students)
  • Communication Strategies: How to ask for clarification on directions; how to ask strangers for transportation information; what to do if you get lost

3. Plan lesson objectives, activities and assessments

I use WIPPEA, the TEAL lesson planning framework. Note that this lesson would probably take more than one class.

A) Warm-up:

  • Review time-of-day vocabulary and make sure students are comfortable with it. If not, review as needed. (Most students know this very well.)
  • Ask about transportation methods: How do you get to class? Do you take a train or subway? (no) Do people take the train in Chapel Hill? (no) Where do people use trains and subways to travel? (mostly in larger cities). Show a photo of a train station and elicit vocabulary.

B) Introduction:

  • Explain that the objective is to learn language for traveling by train or subway. Additional objectives are to be able to interpret schedules, plan routes, and calculate costs of travel. Elicit specific objectives from students, for example, travel within a specific city like D.C. or New York.
  • Write at least three specific lesson objectives on the board.

C) Presentation:

  • First, write a greatly simplified “schedule” on the board for a train trip. Then review question forms related to travel schedules: When does the train leave? When does the train arrive? How long does it take? (etc.) Ask and answer as a group.
  • Hand out a simple, real train schedule, for example, Amtrak for the Durham to D.C. route. Have learners work in pairs (or threes) to answer questions about the schedule. Then review as a whole group.
  • Ask and answer questions about the train schedule on the board. Check for understanding by asking additional questions. Have learners come to the board to write answers to questions about the schedule.

D) Practice:

  • Model a conversation about the schedule using a prepared dialogue with a customer and an employee. (Excuse me, when does the train leave for D.C? How much does a ticket cost?) Practice this dialogue as a group.
  • Then have learners break into pairs again and review dialogues. Have more advanced learners modify the dialogues or create their own, e.g., asking for help if you are lost.
  • Additional practice with technology: Provide a few websites with train or subway schedules, e.g., Ask learners to work in pairs to answer specific questions from the website and filling in a short worksheet. (This might be only for more advanced learners; beginners could spend more time on the dialogues.)
  • Come back together as a group and share what they found. (This could be a homework assignment as well.) Have beginners practice their dialogues for the group.

E) Evaluation:

  • Use the “red card/green card” approach to find out what learners feel confident about, and what they want to work on. Refer back to the original lesson objectives.
  • Have learners complete a cloze activity based on the schedule handout.
  • Use the results to plan the next lesson, for example, additional practice with websites or with route planning on a complex subway system.

F) Application:

  • This would depend on students’ individual interests. For example, each student could identify a city and then research the transportation options in that city online at home.
  • Further classes and class projects could be devoted to additional cities or transportation options.

4. Implement learner-centered instruction practices

  • Self-directed learning: Learners have a great deal of freedom within this lesson, to explore transportation options in cities of their interest and to create dialogues that are meaningful to them. This lesson is also differentiated, with more advanced learners using the internet while beginner learners practice dialogue.
  • Transformational learning: This lesson should open up new opportunities or possibilities for learners; for example, giving them confidence to travel in a strange city, or to plan a train trip for their family.

5. Apply classroom management strategies

  • This lesson reinforces classroom routines including forming groups and working in pairs, using technology in the classroom, and using dictionaries and reference materials for unfamiliar vocabulary.
  • It involves various grouping strategies. For the schedule reviews and dialogue practice, learners will work in multi-level pairs or groups of three. For the more advanced website research and additional dialogue practice, learners will work in like-ability groups.
  • Whole-group discussions also occur at several points during the lesson.