15.1 The Four P’s
Why should teachers plan a lesson?
A significant responsibility of any teacher can include mapping out the long-term goals for the course and the school term and outlining the lesson plans for every lesson.
How can teachers plan a lesson?
To efficiently plan a lesson, teachers need to think about the lesson in its entirety- the point from which you sit down to plan the lesson right through to delivering and concluding the lesson. These are often called the 4 P’s, which consist of:
Of the four Ps, preparation is crucial as it determines the other facets of the lesson plan. While experienced teachers might only spend 10 minutes preparing for a class, do not be surprised if some need two hours to plan a forty-minute class when they are first starting.
A typical lesson should cover the following:
- Topic—The context in which the language item will be taught (Example: Food).
- Aim- The aim describes the learner’s direction in terms of what they might learn or what the teacher/training will deliver.
- Objectives— An objective is a more specific statement about what the learner should or will do after the lesson.
- Resource/Materials—This is what the teacher will need to conduct the lesson. (Example: textbooks, crayons)
- Learning Activities—This is a breakdown of the methods and activities that will be practised throughout the lesson. Teachers usually list these in a specific order.
- Level – The language level of the students (beginner, intermediate, advanced).
- Lesson duration—The length of the overall lesson as well as the anticipated time of each activity.
- Date/Time—The date and time when the lesson is scheduled to take place.
- Potential Problems— Are there any foreseeable issues with the students, classroom, content, etc.
The presentation stage of the lesson is when the teacher introduces new information. The teacher leads the presentation, but there may be learner input or cooperation. The presentation may be inductive (where examples are presented, and the students draw outcomes based on them), deductive (where the teacher declares a rule or generalisation and continues to explain or illustrate it), or some mixture or variation of inductive or deductive.
Because the teacher will have various students with different educational and personal experiences, they may or may not be accustomed to the topic. That is why teachers might start with an activity or question to gauge students’ understanding of the subject or their preconceived ideas about it. This further information can help form the presentation and learning exercises.
For example, they can take a simple poll:
- “How many of you have heard of…..?”. Teachers can also gather background information from their students before class by giving learners a questionnaire or ask them to write comments on index cards.
Once the teacher has introduced new content, they will get the students to understand it and practice it. This should be a guided practice with the teacher correcting crucial mistakes and often starts a little mechanical. For instance, they can begin the practice stage with repetition or substitution drills. How will students practice the language? An excellent way to plan for this is to take the points below into consideration.
- Will the students do an oral exercise?
- Will the students practice a written dialogue?
- Will the students discuss a topic?
- Will the students do focus, paired practice to complete a task?
- Will the students do written exercises?
- Will the students do fill-in-the-blank activities?
- Will the students write a list/paragraph?
- Will the students practice individually or with others?
- Will students practice with the whole class and teacher?
- Will the students’ partner in a paired activity?
- Will students practice with a small group of 3-4 students?
This is where students learn and generalise a new language skill. Teachers should allow/encourage the students to talk about themselves, their lives, or specific situations using their information but focus on the target language taught in the presentation and practised in the previous activities. Teachers should calmly explain what they will need the students to do and encourage and correct them in their use of the target language.
Typical Production activities include role-plays (where students act out the dialogue as realistically as possible between two or more people, e.g., doctor and patient), communication games, debates, discussions, story-writing, etc. Below are some questions for teachers to consider when planning the production aspect of a lesson:
How will students show me that they can use the item I have taught them?
- Will it be by explaining in their own words?
- Will it be by writing something using the language item, such as a dialogue (role play) or paragraph?
- Will it be by performing a role play?
- Will it be by conducting a survey?