Wednesday, November 20, 2013

ESL Lesson Plan Ideas and Resources

Creating lessons plans every week that will keep you and your students entertained can be a stressful ordeal for any teacher. I myself am still waiting for Pixar to put out an entire school year’s supply of animated shorts, preferable tied to textbook lessons. Until then, whether you’re just in a creative rut, have exhausted all possibilities on Waygook and Busy Teacher, or need a small hoard of lesson materials for a Winter Camp or after school class, here is my ultimate list of places to look for lesson plans, material, inspiration, and time killers.

Lesson Plans
Here are some sites where you can find free lesson plans and materials:

  • you can find lesson plans and material shared by English teachers from all over South Korea.
  • Busy Teacher- this site has tons of lessons and material divided by topics and age level. Be sure to check out their articles, as well as their lesson plans for great ideas!
  • Genki English- good for the younger set, this English teacher from Japan provides lots of lesson ideas and actually has some pretty good videos on teaching techniques, as well as  lesson and activity demos.
  • also for the younger set, this site is dedicated to lessons for preschool and kindergarten students
  • ESL Clarissa- you’ll have to dig through the blog a bit to find lesson plans and activities, but I’m always impressed by her creativity. For examples: using Baby Shower games as speaking and listening practice.
  • Barry Fun English- you have to pay a small fee for his materials, but I know plenty of teachers who think his games and materials are worth it. 
  • Film English- similar to the above site, these lessons are a bit more theme based than grammatically based.
  • these aren’t full lessons but if you need to teach grammar this site has tons of worksheets for drilling basic and intermediate grammar topics, and provides related activity ideas.
Openers, Closers, and Games
  • Improv Games. A great way to get your students to warm up and speak spontaneously. You can find common improv games here and here. A quick Google search for “improv games” will yield tons of results.
  • Summer Camp Games. Traditional camp style games and activities are always good for filling time. They can involve speaking or just be a good way to get kids moving.
  • ESL Games. ESL Gamesbox provides tons of ESL game ideas and free printables for games that require them. It will also point you to some great resources, like this Taboo app for your phone. 
  • Konglish Jokes. If you understand Korean, or can at least get the delivery right, these jokes might get a few chuckles from your students (though not always…)
  • Google World Wonders and the Google Art Project. You can give students a tour of your hometown or check out major cities with Google Street View.  Having your students help you navigate is a great way to practice giving directions. If you really want to impress however, Google Maps now allows you to go inside thousands of famous landmarks! You can check out a map of all available tours. The Google World Wonders site will give students an even more detailed view of dozens of famous places, like this tour of Versailles for instance. If your students are interested in art, the Google Art Project also gives you access to high quality images of thousands of works. 
  • Sounds. While images are a great way to stir conversation and jog students’ memories, you can also try using sounds effects. You can have your students identify sounds in English or use them to tell a story. You could also use this site to play recordings of different English speaker accents from around the world. There is also the International Dialects of English Archive, which provides an interactive map of the world and samples of non-native English speakers, including South Koreans. Hopefully your students will gain some more confidence when they realize that a perfect “Hollywood accent” isn’t everything, and that English is as adaptable as it is global.
  • Phone apps. Korean students are addicted to their smart phones, literally. Try to use it to your advantage and take screen shots of English games and apps. You can talk about different games, technology vocabulary, and how to use phone applications in English.
  • Quality videos. When you’ve had enough of low resolution fail and cat videos, YouTube rival Vimeo has a vast selection of quality short films and animations to choose from. You can browse by category or look through the Staff Picks for the best videos. The most superficial of searches on Vimeo led me to this gem, great for a “what happens next?” lesson. I also really like to show tilt shift videos (those films where everything looks super tiny). Vimeo user Keith Loutit has a great series of them called Bathtub.
  • Animation. Most teachers already seem to have a list of go to animations, but if you need more, try sifting through a list of Oscar nominated animated shorts. They tend to cover a range of lesson related themes, but don’t have dialogue so they can be easily adapted to different activities. My favorite find is French Roast, a “don’t judge a book by its cover” story with a poignant twist ending. There is also Short of the Week which posts up and coming shorts and allows you to select films by country, genre, or medium.  
  • Subtitles! If you need subtitles for recent TV shows or movies, you can search for them here. It’s in Korean but you can search for the titles in English. You use the subtitles together with the video file in GOM Player (it’s like the Korean Windows Media Player).
  • TED. TED talks provide great short video lectures on a number of topics, but can be too difficult for students to understand. There a Korean TED site with translations, including a popular lecture from Hyeonseo Lee, who escaped from North Korea. 
Games and Puzzles
  • Online kids magazines. If you’re from America you might remember reading Highlights magazine while sitting around and waiting at the doctor’s office. My elementary school teacher friends tell me this site is an endless source of entertainment for their students. It’s a great kids magazine and their website contains animated stories, games, crafts, science experiments, and a number of other activities to keep young kids occupied.
  • Game Makers. If you need to drill vocabulary with your students, you can create all kinds of word puzzles using the Armored Penguin generator. If you want to review with a Jeopardy board, you can create your own Jeopardy game template easily here!
  • Sporcle. In college I was addicted to Sporcle. It’s a website filled with timed quizzes covering everything from history to television. If you can bring it up on a projector screen, you can try to complete quizzes together as a class. There are lots of word and spelling related quizzes. I myself am a big fan of the geography quizzes. Can your students name all the countries in Asia in English? You can now create your own timed quizzes as well!
  • No prep. The best teachers can always change pace quickly when things don’t go according to plan. In case your computer breaks down or you have extra time, always have a list of no prep games handy! Busy Teacher always has lots of them! 
  • News. I know some people who use Breaking English News, which provides news stories at different reading levels, for reading material.  If your students read at middle school level, many reputable news outlets also have news sections especially for kids and teens. I like the ones provided by TIME magazine and the New York Times. The NYtimes also has a great “what’s going on in this picture” section.
  • Comics. Many Korean students, from elementary to high school, love reading online comics and graphic novels. If you can get the title of their favorite series, perhaps you can get them to read it in English!
  • Stories. Eslfast has links to hundreds of short stories and conversation ideas.
Grammar Instruction
  • Tense timelines. English has many complicated tenses, so I like showing students these visual tense timelines from to help them understand sentences. My own Italian professor used similar timelines and I found them extremely helpful in college. In addition to other grammar topics, the site has timelines for all the English tenses, along with great explanations, examples, and related practice.
Best Time Killers
Sometimes you just need to be able to pop open YouTube and hit play for a few minutes…or a whole class. It’s probably no secret to you by now that Koreans love slap stick humor. I have had success with all of these:

  • The minimalist Italian cartoon series La Linea has also given my students a few laughs, and there are dozens of episodes.
  • If you want live action there is always Mr. Bean.
  • If your students are more sophisticated perhaps you could turn to the antics of Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton, who was well known for his death-defying stunts.
  • One of my favorite blogs, This is Colossal, has videos of all kinds of amazing artworks, installations, and animations. You can blow some minds with videos like ScreenGrab.
  • You’ve probably already noticed that Koreans also love all things cute. Animal Planet has a Too Cute web series. Your students might not be able to follow the English but I’m sure they will love watching adorable animals. Bath Time for Baby Sloths is a favorite of mine.
  • Kids of all ages are usually dazzled by the visuals in the cartoon Adventure Time (the link has all episodes with Korean subtitles; the occasional mild adult humor will probably go over their heads, and they will love the Korean speaking unicorn). Episodes are only 10 minutes each, but there are tons of them.
  • After a lesson on amusement parks I discovered that my students loved watching front seat videos on rides and roller coasters. ThemeParkReview gets you a front seat on rides and roller coasters around the world. I've honestly spent almost an entire class on this!
  • Music videos are always a great option. You’re probably already familiar with Eat Your Kimchi, but if you’re like me and are totally oblivious to what K-Pop your students are listening to these days, you can have students select videos from their K-Pop Music Mondays chart or have students give their Korean Indie Music Playlist a go. My students loved the layout of the site (though I had to avoid explaining DICKS, Discussing Interesting Contemporary Slang, and WTF, Wonderful Treasure Find, etc).

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