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Lesson Planning for Adult

ESOL Learners
Orange Campus Community
Collaborative Training
January 2007
Why lesson plan?
 Provides a clear goal and a focus for the
 Guides the tutor and the learner –
minimizing “surprises” can make a learner
more comfortable.
 Allows the tutor and the learner to assess
progress (strengths and weaknesses).
 Legitimizes the role of the tutor: you come
prepared to help your learner.
Offers learning
opportunity for goals.
practice of
with the
independent familiar.
skill goals.

Begins with
Builds on
a review
and ends
Effective knowledge
with a
Lesson and skills.
Relates to Integrates
the learner’s listening,
interests and
builds on
the learner’s writing, and
strengths. speaking.
materials the content. Adapted from resources
prepared for the UNC America
and goals. Reads! program and
developed by Priscilla Wood.
Adult Learners:
 Are different from children in experience and lifestyle:
 Use materials appropriate for adults.
 Target themes, language and vocabulary for an adult audience.
 Have valuable life experiences:
 Let the learning environment tap into their creativity.
 Create lessons that respect and capitalize on their experiences.
 Desire to be successful:
 Use success as a motivator.
 Use materials that prepare adults for success (ie: job
applications, GED test samples, writing resumes).
 Are busy people:
 Lessons and materials should be meaningful.
 Be efficient.
 Be direct and expect your learner to do the same.
 Can have specific learning goals or may need
suggestions and help with goal setting.
 Help set short and long term goals.
 Use short term goal accomplishment to help adults stay
 Can learn differently because of age and experiences:
 Take into account issues of health (i.e: eyesight) that can
influence how quickly a learner succeeds. Adapted from resources
prepared for the UNC America
Reads! program and
developed by Priscilla Wood.
Goal Setting (Assessment)
 Goal setting can be an informal
assessment mechanism to use with your
learner. The ability of a student to identify
and articulate goals in English can indicate
what level of literacy the learner has
already achieved.
 Goal setting can be achieved through
dialogue or by asking the learner to
complete a simple form.
Information on this and the next three slides is adapted from Teaching Adults: An ESL Resource Book published
by ProLiteracy America.
Needs and Skills Assessment
 NEEDS Assessment focuses on the learner -
background, interests, goals, immediate needs – to help
you determine what skills the learner needs (and what
materials to use).

Sample Needs Assessment Inventory:

How long in the United States
Jobs - in the United States and experience and work history in homeland
Personal Interests
Reasons for learning English
SKILLS Assessment Skills Skills assessment should occur 3
focuses on the level Assessment
times: when a learner begins a
program, during the program to check
of literacy. progress, and as the learner leaves
the program.

Comprehension Reading

Asks/ gestures for Reads/

Understands Reads his or
Understands you. information understands
simple directions. her name.
to be repeated. simple signs.

Speaking Writing

Pronunciation &
Writes his or
Speech is intonation Speech is
Holds a pen her name
intelligible mimic grammatically Fills in blank forms.
or pencil properly. with the
and fluent. American accurate.
Roman alphabet.
Creating a Lesson:
Understanding the Process
Step 1: Ask WHO?
- Use information from the learner profile created during the needs
assessment to develop individual learning objectives for the
lesson (or the thematic unit).

Step 2: Ask WHAT?

- Identify the vocabulary and skills needed to meet the learning

Step 3: Ask HOW?

- Select materials and activities that will best demonstrate
vocabulary and skills.
A Sample Class
Rosa – 23, Guatemalan, 2 years in the US, cleans rooms at a hotel, wants to teach kindergarten, married, no
children. Rosa speaks enough English to be understood by coworkers and can read schedules and work
materials. She likes to play soccer.
Lee Song - 45, Chinese, 5 months in the US, has an engineering degree, works as a assemblyman, married, 2
children (12 and 8). He studied English in China and can read & write English but has difficulty with
pronunciation and cannot be understood.
Marta - 66, Mexican, 10 years in the US, lives with her son and grandchildren (8,6, 2), wants to be able to help
with their homework. Marta works part-time at a florist’s shop. She is understood in English but cannot read or
write well.
Pablo – 30, Brazil, two months in the US, no job, wants to help his family in Sao Paulo and prepare for them to
join him in the US, he speaks little English and has difficult writing in Spanish and Portuguese. Pablo enjoys
listening to samba music.

Materials in the Library

“Summer League Needs Coaches: Youth Soccer and Baseball” – a local news article
Collaborations workbook – Literacy Level (level 1 in the series) Classified ads – “Help Wanted”
Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Suess “China Banks Open to Foreign Competition” – an AP news article
Sample questions from a TOEFL exam “Space Shuttle to Dock with Space Station” – an AP news article
How to Do Homework Without Throwing Up by T. Romain & E. Verdick – a homework helper for kids and parents
The Story of Helen Keller and Ann Sullivan Macy by Joseph P. Lash Music in Brazil by Jonathan Murphy
information and testing schedule from the NC Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors
Chicken Soup for the Soul, to Grandma with Love by J. Canfield & M. Hansen
Who What How
“Summer League Needs Coaches;” Read article, compare soccer
Short Term Goal: improve
Sample TOEFL questions; vocab, get more info, apply for
level of literacy
The Story of Helen Keller and Ann job.
Sullivan Macy Sample questions assess her
Long Term Goal: enroll in
literacy level. Will help focus
teacher education program
time and support college goal.
The Story -thematic unit - to
reading, speaking and writing
skills. Analysis, talk about role
of teachers, arrange classroom

Lee Song “China Banks Open to Foreign Read article – exercise to work
Short Term Goal: improve Competition” or “Space Shuttle to Dock on free conversation and
pronunciation with Space Station” speaking with a topic that is
Oh the Places You’ll Go familiar.
Long Term Goal: become a Information from the NC Board of Oh the Places uses many
licensed engineer in NC Examiners rhymes and tongue twisters.
Lee Song can practice sounds
that are difficult with the goal of
reading the story to his
Information will help Lee
prepare for the licensing exam
– topics, sample questions,
etc. – which will improve his
job potential.
Who What How
Oh the Places You’ll Go Oh the Places - a simple
Short Term Goal: better
How to Do Homework reading activity to help boost
communication with
Chicken Soup for the Soul skills. Goal: read to the kids.
Homework can be used to help
Marta think of activities to use
Long Term Goal: better
with her grandchildren. Trying
reading and writing skills
them develop speaking skills.
Chicken Soup can be used to
develop LEA writing activities
where Marta shares stories
about her life and grandkids.

Pablo Collaborations Use the workbook to guide

Short Term Goal: Classified Ads vocab and basic expressions.
employment Music in Brazil Use the unit on jobs.
Use classified ads to practice
Long Term Goal: English job vocab and to select jobs
language literacy Pablo is qualified for. Work on
the application process.
Music in Brazil – chapter on
samba or CD of samba music
can develop an LEA activity for
The preceding exercise was writing and reading. It is a
adapted from the Verizon topic Pablo enjoys and may
Literacy Network online
courses, Working with English feel more comfortable
Language Learners and expressing himself about.
Working with Adult Learners.
Step 4: Write the Lesson

 Remember that good lesson plans have a variety of

 Keep in mind:
 Total Physical Response (TPR) is an activity that does not
require a low level student to speak. He or she simply watches,
listens, and mimics.
 Graphic organizers, media, and music can help illustrate
vocabulary and concepts. Seeing something can be as
important as learning to recognize the word.
 Activities can build on each other and on previously mastered
skills. This is strengths based lesson planning.
 Adult instruction should build on the four basic areas:
comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, and phonemic
awareness/word analysis.
Information on this slide is adapted from Teaching Adults: An ESL Resource Book published by ProLiteracy
 Group 1: Olin

 Group 2: Amaliya

 Group 3: Sachiko

 Group 4: Benito
Sample: Learner Profile and Lesson Plan
• Age: 34
• Homeland: Tlaxcala, Mexico
• How long in the United States: 10 years
• Family: 2 sons, ages 11 & 14; family in Mexico
• Job in the United States: Housekeeping for local hospital (6 years)
• Work experience in homeland: housekeeper, factory work, house wife
• Education: completed secundaria para trabajadores (education for
working students) and finished her formal education
• Personal Interests: music of Carlos Santana, fan of Universidad
Nacional Pumas (fútbol), loves to cook (especially
• Goal (short term): to be able to speak with her sons’ teachers and to
be able to speak more English at work
• Goal (long term): to enter a nursing education program and become a
nurse at the hospital
• Reasons for learning English: to better communicate with family and
community; for job advancement
• English skills: verbal communication more advanced than reading and
writing. Has developed the English vocabulary to work and to survive in