A Guide to Lesson Planning: Aims

There are several different types of aims you should have on a lesson plan, typically the main aims of the lesson, the subsidiary aims of the lesson, your personal teaching development aims as well as an aim for each stage of the lesson. Confused as to what goes where? Read on for a succinct breakdown in the first of a series of blog posts on writing lesson plans.Screen Shot 2018-07-06 at 11.04.38

Main Aims: As the name says, these are the things you want to achieve by the end of the lesson. On a CELTA course if you do not achieve your main aims, it is difficult for the lesson to be graded “To Standard”. In real life, if you do not achieve your main lesson aims, you need to question yourself as to how effective or useful the lesson really was.

Typically in a grammar, lexis or function lesson your main aims might be to introduce/ revise and practise a certain language area in a certain context. If I were introducing present simple to an A1 group of students I would probably start with the following aim:

  • To introduce and practise, in a  controlled and freer way, the present simple positive form in the context of daily routines.

In a skills lesson, your aims would focus on that particular skill, for example:

  • To provide practice in listening for gist and for detail in the context of a discussion about envirnmental issues.
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Include the type of practice you are providing as well as the context in your aim.

Subsidiary Aims: These are also things you want to achieve in your lesson, but are less important. If your lesson focus is grammar, a subsidiary aim might focus on providing fluency practice for your learners as this will happen in the freer practice activity. It is less vital to achieve your subsidary aims, for example if you run out of time.

Teaching Development (TD) Aims: These are areas you want to focus on in your own teaching. On the CELTA course they might be areas your tutor has picked up on as a point to work on in a previous TP, especially as one of the CELTA critieria you need to achieve is to show you can respond to (tutor) feedback. In real life, a TD aim could be something you know you are not very good at, something you often forget to do or something that was not effective in a previous lesson. A TD aim could be something as simple as:

  • To ensure I allow time at the beginning of the lesson to prepare technical equipment.

or something a little meatier such as:

  • To ensure my presentation is student-centred.

Stage Aims: Each part of your lesson is a stage and for each stage you need to think about what you want to achieve. If we take the lesson mentioned above of introducing the present simple, I might introduce the language by providing a short text about someone’s (possibly my own) daily routine. The students could be given the text to read and answer some true/false questions about the text before focusing on language (find out more on reading skills). The T/F questions would involve scanning the text to find the answers. My stage aim here would therefore be:

  • To provide practice in scanning a text for specific detail

as well as

  • To expose the students to the target language.

Here are a couple of “bad” aims I have read recently on lesson plans, can you see what is wrong with them?

  1. To introduce and provide practice in the language on p36 in the context of the present perfect.
  2. To practise fluency.
  3. To introduce the conditionals. (to a B2 group)

1. The context is actually the topic of the lesson eg the environment, daily routines etc. not a particular grammar area. Also the type of practice the teacher is providing is missing (controlled/ freer). We do not need to know where to find the grammar topic in the course book but we need to know what the grammar topic is. A better aim would be:

  • To introduce and provide controlled and freer practice in the present perfect in the context of lifetime experiences.

2. This aim is just not detailed enough, it could refer to sitting and having a chat with the students, this would also practise fluency.

3. It is unlikely that a group of B2 students have not met the conditionals before so rather than introducing them, the teacher is more likely reviewing them. Also, conditionals is a very broad topic, more likely they are focusing on specific types of conditionals. The context is also missing, as well as the type of practice, unless the teacher is going to spend the whole lesson on a presentation stage which would not be very useful for the students!

What difficulties do you have writing aims?

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Author: Amanda Momeni

A CELTA tutor, English language tutor and co-author of The Ultimate Guide to CELTA

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