A hilariously bad TEFL course model lesson plan

Discovered this while researching something else and my jaw just dropped with its awfulness (and I say that as someone who still has to teach with materials made up by random teachers in other branches of my schools). I’ve highlighted parts which I think are particularly worth a bitter giggle or two, then given my own commentary, with all my comments in italics. I’ll reveal which TEFL course provider is responsible for this monstrosity in a fuller post on them in the next day or two.

 

Topic: Talking about future plans

Aim: The aim of this lesson is for the students to be able to relate and talk about their future plans. They will also practice and improve their reading and writing skills. In this lesson the students will focus on communicating in the future tense and understand the correct grammar and functions related to the future tense. They will also work on improving their sentence structuring.

Materials: A copy of the hand out to every student.

Anticipated problems: The students may be unfamiliar with or find it difficult to understand the correct grammar points and functions. They may also be confused with when to know how to use either will or going to in the future tense. They may also be unfamiliar with some of the vocabulary in the hand out and their spelling may also be weak.

Solutions: I will first write the following words on the board and give the Thai (for example) translation.

Probably:

Definitely :

Biggest :

Hope:

I will then draw a time line on the board to explain the grammar points.

PAST——————–PRESENT——————–FUTURE

was am will /going to

Controlled practice:

I will explain how and when we use either will /going to in the future tense. I will explain to the class that it depends on the question form. I will write the following 2 question’s on the board as examples for the class.

Q1: Where are you going tomorrow?

A1: I am going to………….

Q2: What will you do tomorrow?

A1: I will……………

I will explain to the students that you’ll is short for you will. I will explain to the students that we use going to if it is in the question.

Free practice: I will then have the students give their answers to the questions. I will walk around the class monitoring the students, checking for correct grammar and sentence structure. I will then put the students into pairs and have them ask each other the questions.

Controlled practice: I will then have different pairs stand at the top of the class and role play out the questions to the rest of the class. As always depending on time, I will go through as many students as possible.

Approved by: (school representive)

 

Sample work sheet for lesson plan above

There would obviously be spaces below each question, allowing students to fill in their answers

Q1. What were you doing five years ago?

Q2. What do you think you will be doing in 15 years’ time?

Q3. Where are you going after this lesson?

Q4.Name one thing you will probably buy today.

Q5. Name one thing you are definitely not going to buy today.

Q6.Name one thing you will probably eat today.

Q7.Name one thing you are definitely not going to eat today.

Q8.What is your biggest hope for the future?

 

It’s difficult to find anything good to say about that lesson and its accompanying plan. In fact, it’s difficult even to know where to start with tearing it apart – so I guess I’ll begin at the beginning and work my way through. I’ll then comment on the info at the top, before looking at how well it matches what they recommend their trainees do (not well!) and what trainees should do more generally.

 

Lesson plan with comments in bold italics

 

Solutions: I will first write the following words on the board and give the Thai (for example) translation

Probably:

Definitely :

Biggest :

Hope:

Not much of a warmer (which they recommend, see below) and nowhere in the rest of the booklet do they recommend translation. I also can’t imagine why someone who needs translation of “biggest” is being taught Future Continuous etc… Also, I can only guide a taxi and ask for the bill in Thai, but in languages I know more thoroughly “hope” and “probably” are very difficult to translate correctly, with “hope” being often confused with “wish” and “look forward to” and common translations of “probably” not having that around 70% probability

I will then draw a time line on the board to explain the grammar points.

PAST——————–PRESENT——————–FUTURE – Again, why is someone who doesn’t know the difference between the past, present and future studying several future tenses at the same time?

was am will /going to – “will be”/ “going to be” surely, if you really want to stick to that one verb “be”?

Controlled practice: – Half of this is actually the presentation.

I will explain how and when we use either will /going to in the future tense. I will explain to the class that it depends on the question form. – This is simply not true. You can and should say “I don’t have any plans but I’ll probably just watch TV” in response to “What are you going to do tonight?” if that is the case for you. It also doesn’t even start to explain why there are two tenses and how they are different from each other – something that students will probably ask and a beginner teacher needs to prepare themselves for, surely the main reason for writing a lesson plan like this.

 

I will write the following 2 question’s on the board as examples for the class. – I know that’s an easy punctuation mistake to make that isn’t always picked up by Word, but remember that this is a model lesson plan…

Q1: Where are you going tomorrow?

A1: I am going to………….

Q2: What will you do tomorrow? – A rather bizarre question, asking them to make predictions about the next day… I don’t know about you, but I’ve almost certainly never asked or been asked this question in my life.

A1: I will……………

I will explain to the students that you’ll is short for you will. I will explain to the students that we use going to if it is in the question. – No elicitation in this lesson at all, despite it being something the booklet mentions all the time. Also not sure why “You’ll” (rather than “I’ll”) will come up in this lesson.

 

Free practice: I will then have the students give their answers to the questions. I will walk around the class monitoring the students, checking for correct grammar and sentence structure. – How is this free practice??? Not 100% clear that he means write the answers, but I guess so. Also not clear if he wants full answers to the questions – unnatural if he does and pointless if he doesn’t.

 

I will then put the students into pairs and have them ask each other the questions. – Not clear if they can look at their written answers during this stage. Pointless stage if they can. Also, how should the people asking the questions react to the answers? Are they at least encouraged to indulge in a little actual communication by asking follow up questions?

Controlled practice: I will then have different pairs stand at the top of the class and role play out the questions to the rest of the class. As always depending on time, I will go through as many students as possible. – Not a roleplay by any stretch of the imagination, and completely pointless, particularly as the rest of the class has no task while listening. That leaves this as a lesson with no real communication/ production stage, e.g. a chance to ask their own questions with the forms or communicate without prior written preparation. Again, this is despite the booklet really emphasizing PPP.

Approved by: (school representive) – And finishing on a high with an actual spelling mistake…

 

Sample work sheet for lesson plan above

There would obviously be spaces below each question, allowing students to fill in their answers

Q1. What were you doing five years ago? – What is Past Continuous doing in this lesson?? Are not all those future tenses confusion enough??

Q2. What do you think you will be doing in 15 years’ time? Future Continuous in the same lesson as introducing future tenses for the first time???

Q3. Where are you going after this lesson? – Not clear if that is supposed to be the (common) shorter form of “going to go” or yet another tense (Present Continuous). Needs more explanation or at least preparation for student questions either way.

Q4.Name one thing you will probably buy today.

Q5. Name one thing you are definitely not going to buy today.

Q6.Name one thing you will probably eat today. – From these examples, students will probably draw the totally wrong conclusion that “going to” is used with negative sentences but otherwise with exactly the same meaning as “will”. If anything it makes more sense to talk about predictions with “will” with negatives, as who makes negative plans??

Q7.Name one thing you are definitely not going to eat today.

Q8.What is your biggest hope for the future? – And yet another future form stuck in at the end, as if there weren’t enough already…

 

And the same for the top bit

 

Topic: Talking about future plans – Most of the forms in this lesson have nothing to do with plans.

Aim: The aim of this lesson is for the students to be able to relate and talk about their future plans. They will also practice and improve their reading and writing skills. – Reading questions and writing answers is not a reading and writing skills lesson. Also “relate and talk about”??

 

In this lesson the students will focus on communicating in the future tense and understand the correct grammar and functions related to the future tense. – There is no communication in the lesson at all. They will also leave the class more confused about future forms than they were before they came into the lesson.

 

They will also work on improving their sentence structuring.????

Materials: A copy of the hand out to every student.

Anticipated problems: The students may be unfamiliar with or find it difficult to understand the correct grammar points and functions. They may also be confused with when to know how to use either will or going to in the future tense. – But they will get no help, and their teacher will be completely unprepared if they do ask for a proper explanation.

 

Not only is that a terrible lesson, the plan itself misses out several things that are recommended in the very same chapter and therefore it is supposed to be modelling:

  • No summary of all the (many) grammar points introduced (they might have realized that “hope”, “going to” – or possibly Present Continuous, “will”, Future Continuous and adverbs of possibility/ probability was a bit too much if they had…)
  • No warmer/ review of previous lesson
  • No preparation for elicitation
  • PPP format not clearly labelled, and no proper production stage
  • No attempt to make the language relevant and interesting for the students
  • No drilling or other pronunciation presentation or practice, or preparation to do so if students have problems with it (despite this being one of the trickiest things about “will”, especially when it comes to comprehension)
  • No final conclusion to the lesson

 

And then there are the many vital things on a lesson plan that they forgot to mention in the booklet at all:

  • Justifications for the overall lesson and the stages in it
  • Description of previous class(es)
  • Description of the students, with their strengths and weaknesses, interests, motivations for learning English, etc.
  • Timings (!)
  • Preparation for student questions
  • The actual instructions/ explanations they will use, written out in full (preferably in speech marks)
  • Numbered stages
  • Alternative stages/ Fillers/ Plan Bs

Instead of which, they wasted time and space writing their lesson plan in full sentences.

 

So, whodunit? All will shortly be revealed, along with some frankly even more shocking info…

This entry was posted in Online TEFL certificate, Teacher training, Teaching English in Thailand. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to A hilariously bad TEFL course model lesson plan

  1. Pip says:

    After reading that I feel rather more confident in my teaching abilities. 🙂

  2. alexcase says:

    Maybe it was to convince anyone that they can teach better than that and so get them into the world of TEFL…

    Here is the organisation that we can blame this on:
    https://tefltastic.wordpress.com/2014/10/08/the-tefl-university/

  3. mikecorea says:

    Thanks for this. Fun times.
    I also sort of dig the (what is called) “free practice” before the “controlled practice.”

  4. alexcase says:

    Yup, that’s also a good un. The rest of the booklet really bangs on about PPP, and then they can’t even get that right…

    Also, one of the authors has apparently done a CELTA in 2012 according to his online CV – how did he not at least learn to write a lesson plan in table format with timings etc??

  5. I think I’ve found my go to thing to look at when I need to feel like I don’t suck as a teacher.

  6. LanguageBug says:

    Great analysis. I think it goes to show several things:

    1. As teachers, we have to be diligent when it comes to things that seem obvious to us. The chopping and changing of tenses, (in a tenses lesson, nonetheless!) makes sense to a native speakers. “What have you been doing?” versus “What will you be doing?” makes sense to an English and is related. To a non-native speaker, it’s talking about something completely different and will confuse them because they’ll associate future and past. Just wrong.

    2. “Hope” is a vocabulary term. When teaching grammar constructions, stick to the necessary information and no more. So, “I will be going to” (Subject + will + to be + “going to”, etc.) Leave other stuff like “hope” and “wish” to a different section, if not a different lesson. Ideally, I’d split up talking about probability and an introduction to future tenses into two lessons.

    3. This lesson plan is a mess. I’m sure the person who wrote it knew what they were planning, (or at least I hope they did?) but it’s not a lesson plan at all as it stands. For instance, if I were called in last minute to give this lesson, I couldn’t follow that plan and succeed.

    4. Actually, reading the article again, this whole thing can be put down to the author not having a full grasp of the future (and other) tenses and how they work. ESOL Teachers need to be very diligent with their knowledge of grammar, otherwise trying to teach it is futile.

  7. alexcase says:

    I’d agree that this lesson plan is the sign of someone who doesn’t even know how to teach as well as someone who rushed out their lesson plan without even bothering to check it properly. And yet this person and his partner in crime feel themselves justified not only in giving out certificates saying that people know how to teach, but actually issuing BA degree certificates. The more I think about it the madder I get…

  8. alexcase says:

    If they really wanted to do a class on contrasting future forms, here’s some help:
    https://tefltastic.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/classic-future-tenses-explanation/

  9. Matthew says:

    Truly horrid…

  10. Matthew says:

    “Controlled practice: I will explain how and when we use either will /going to in the future tense. I will explain to the class that it depends on the question form. I will write the following 2 question’s on the board as examples for the class.”

    I could hardly make it past this point…and that’s very, very early on! Ouch and I mean OUCH.

  11. Thank you for the invaluable analysis.

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