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Time-Saving Tips for Preparing TESOL Lesson Plans

Preparing TESOL lesson plans can turn into a teacher’s least favourite past-time.

Some of the tips below seem to be little more than common sense, but when time becomes scarce we find ourselves cutting corners and taking care of immediate needs (such as photocopying or marking the latest quiz we gave our students) and we end up having less time to devote to lesson planning and preparation.

This, in turn, makes certain small tasks more cumbersome and, before we know it, lesson planning becomes a black hole that consumes more and more of our time.

If the following tips are followed consistently, lesson planning will become natural to you and take less and less time as you become an experienced teacher.

Learn to use PPP, ESA, TTT, and TBL lesson planning formats with the 250-hour TESOL Diploma!-

Write a Real TESOL Lesson Plan

When we plan lessons, we are saving valuable time that can then be spent in assessing students and using that assessment to inform our practice.

It is best to have lesson plan sheets ready to be filled out. This can be done in soft copies or on paper (hard copies).

The format the lesson plan takes should be one that we feel comfortable with and helps us remember the skills, grammar structures, and interaction formats that need to be included in each class.

Creating term, monthly and weekly plans will also ensure better time management and help us to be able to reach curriculum deadlines.

Read: Planning a Series of Lessons

Material For Preparing a TESOL Lesson Plan

Learning how to create and design handouts is an invaluable skill.

Learning the ins and outs of a word processor that allows us to embed images, charts and other visual aids is indispensable when planning lessons.

If necessary, it is worth investing in lessons to learn how to use Microsoft Word or Pages (Apple users) extensively in order to create engaging and effective handouts that can be saved, improved, and re-used term after term.

Preparing material ahead of time is another key element.

If a textbook is not available, having reading sets that can be reused saves a considerable amount of time and paper.

So does the use of overheads, PowerPoint or keynote presentations, and any other kind of technology that allows us to present material to our students without taking our precious time.

Read: 5 Strategies to Make the Most Out of Your Lesson Plans

Having a well-organized filing system for material, handouts, and resources helps when similar lessons need to be planned every term.

When saving handouts, it also helps to add notes regarding the advantages and disadvantages or possible improvements for each of them.

When using them again for another lesson, we don’t have to create a new one or try to remember whether it was effective or not.

Including answer sheets with handouts that are saved is also an important way of saving valuable preparation time.

Having a class binder with the handouts that are given out every day will allow students to check for missing handouts or assignments if they were away, without taking away from class time or any time before or after the lesson.

Read: How to Make Impressive and User-Friendly TESOL Material

Keeping a record of movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, comics, songs, or any media that can be used to teach English as a Second Language or practice different grammar points, can become an irreplaceable resource.

As we interact with media, we often think of what could be used for in class.

Completing a log or list of these resources at that time is easier and more useful than trying to search for material when the need presents itself.


Having strategies ready to make students participate not only helps with time management during lessons but also ensures that we don’t have to think about this or prepare it for every lesson we plan.

These strategies include random name selectors (available online), students’ names on cards to be drawn out of a bowl or hat, student numbers, or different selection criteria are written on cards (i.e. whoever is wearing blue).

Finally, having sets of ready exit or entry cards for students to show when they come into class or at the end of a lesson, cuts down on homework preparation time and engages students in a very active and positive level.

Read: Fostering Participation in the Classroom

Preparing TESOL lesson plans can seem superfluous sometimes; however,  professional lesson plans are the secret of successful teaching, and these tips are meant to help us approach lesson planning in a practical and efficient manner.


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