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Teach English in BaiyanhuA Zhen - Bayannao'er Shi — Bayan Nur
The best tool a teacher can have is a lesson plan. Having lesson plans can benefit teachers in many ways. It clarifies the aims and objectives of the course. Sharing and understanding the class’s goal with students also benefits them. Lesson plans also help teachers keep track of time, making sure they are utilizing their classroom time efficiently. Lesson plans provide teachers with confidence and they will stumble less while teaching. Past lesson plans help keep track of what teachers have taught and aid them with what they will teach next. This assures that teachers and students are always on the same page, creating a good rapport. Teaching both young learners and adults, I have found that each group of students have their own needs and a teacher must be prepared to change gears when teaching different groups. A lesson plan assists with that. A tool that has helped me plan effectively is the Engage, Study, and Activate (ESA) teaching methodology put forth by Jeremy Harmer and introduced in this course. After taking the TEFL courses, I started applying the ESA methodology. The ESA method grounds me and organizes my thoughts. It has also helped me develop my own teaching style. I believe I teach better now because I have spent time utilizing the ESA method. I have noticed some differences when lesson planning for young learners and adults. A barebones version of my English language lesson plan usually goes like this: general greetings in English, asking about the weather and the date, an explanation of today’s objective, an engage activity, a study period, an activate activity, and then a reflection time where students write about what they have learned, how confident they feel about the material taught, and generally how they feel about the class. This type of lesson plan utilizes the “straight arrow ESA” pattern. I feel the mentioned barebones version of my lesson plan is extremely effective for young learners. The age range of young learners I teach is from the age of zero to fourteen. This lesson plan I mentioned is enhanced and expanded in many different ways to fit each class, but generally does not waver too far from its original version. The reason being that I have found routine and familiarity is best for young learners. Knowing how the class is arranged is not only comfortable for young students, but also enforces and encourages the usage of everyday classroom English. Because of this familiarity, young learners are usually already comfortable using English the moment we start greetings. The Engage activity then enforces the usage of English throughout the class. Young learners generally have higher energy and are easier to engage with. Thus the need to waver away from the straight arrow ESA lesson plan is less demanding. For adults, lesson planning requires a little more creativity and control. Often, I find that the changing from the straight arrow lesson plan is more demanding. My adult students range from age thirty to the sixties. With the straight arrow lesson plan, my adult students often elongate certain sections of the lesson plan. For example, I have allocated ten to fifteen minutes for the Engage portion of the lesson plan, but my students start to delve into explaining their elicited answers. This lengthens the time for the Engage portion, but decreases the time for the Study and Activate sections. To remedy this, I used a timer, but some Engage activities require that all students answer and this too, extends the time. Adult students also like to delve deeper into explanations during the Study portion. I save time here by saving questions until the end of the Study portion or writing the questions on the board as they appear and answering them at the end. Though this saves time, students may become lost or lose interest if they do not understand while going through the Study section. The Activate phases also draw out. Adult students want to practice and demonstrate their English ability, often using as much time in each ESA section possible to speak in English. These issues however, are easily remedied by simply changing the lesson plan from a “straight arrow ESA” to a “boomerang” or “patchwork” ESA lesson plan. Though I always write and present the schedule of the class to both my young learners and adults students, when I deviate from the straight arrow lesson plan, I have a better control of the class. The differences between planning for young learners and adult usually fall into two categories: level of English and engagement. Since young learners are relatively new to English, a straight arrow lesson plan is more effective. As for adult students, they have had some type of English exposure and are more focused on using grammatical English. Though adults are just as engaged as young learners, their engagement towards English is more academic than singing or playing games. The lesson plan in turn also has to reflect that type of engagement. Adult students need a variety of routines to effectively use their English. Simply using a straight arrow lesson plan limits adult students’ English usage. There are some drawbacks to lesson planning such as not being able to teach everything on the lesson plan as explained above. However, teachers can transfer what they did not teach into the next lesson plan. If the teachers taught everything and is left with extra time, the teacher can review learned material by referring to past lesson plans. The ESA teaching method is especially kind in this regard because of how flexible it is. Lesson planning has become much easier since I have started utilizing the ESA methodology. By using the ESA method, I have started to realize the differences between my young learners’ and adult students' needs. It has helped me create better lesson plans for my students.