Planning Ahead

Planning Ahead
by Sophia McMillan
(Shane Training Centre, Japan)

Routines are very useful in classrooms and apply to both adults’ and children’s classes. These routines include:
* Following the same format in each lesson
* Learners always do the same action upon starting or finishing an activity e.g. putting their hands on their head, saying ‘finished!’
* Always carrying out tasks in the same format. E.g. The teacher does the activity by themselves or with one learner, then two learners do the activity (with prompts form the teacher), finally the class do the activity.
* Consistent application of classroom rules.
* Reacting to children in a consistent manner. i.e. do not accept on type of behavior one week and then suddenly react very strongly the next week.
* Introduce, check and practice new language in a complete fashion.

Advantages of routines in the classroom:
* Learners know what is happening at any stage of the lesson
* It can help with classroom management. Young learners know what will happen at different stages of the lesson and so know what type of behavior is expected of them based on previous experience.
* Increase confidence in the teacher. Learners know that you will follow all necessary stages.
* Reduce unnecessary questions. Learners often panic if they do not understand something immediately thinking this is their only chance, if they know there will be further work on it coming up they will wait to see what happens.
* Help learner uptake. Learners will understand the stages of learning and so will be more aware of what they need to take out of each section of the lesson.

Classroom Language
Classroom language is language used outside of the target language. Often this language relates to the environment of the classroom, how to set up tasks, feedback (praise and correction).

Classroom language

(e.g. sit down, look at the board, turn to page 64) is very useful to assist the learning process. It is easy for learners to pick up, as the meaning is usually immediate and clear. Classroom language is usually taught as a lexical chunk (i.e. not breaking the sentence down into the meaning of individual words) and introduced passively.

Be careful as introducing too much language, even passively, might overwhelm the learners in the first week.

Schemes of work
Schemes of work are a way of planning above the level of individual lessons or units (appendix 1). They involve looking at what the learners will be doing over an extended period of time, this could be over a quarter (11 weeks at Shane), over an entire year etc.

Lesson planning focuses just on what will happen in a particular lesson. Schemes of work involve looking at how each lesson fits into what will happen over the course. This can be done formally, e.g. producing a chart, or informally, e.g. making mental notes about what is coming up.

Advantages of looking at lessons over a longer period of time:
* It will make teachers’ lives easier. Rather than planning everything from scratch every week they will already have some idea of what they will be doing.
* It is easier to make sure language is recycled and all areas are covered.
* When planning on a week to week basis there is a tendency for less immediate concerns to get put off. In schemes of work it is easier to make sure that everything will be included.
* Ensures a balanced course and consistency.

Final Thoughts
Looking at classes over the long term will help make teacher’s lives easier as well as making sure learners get consistent, high quality instruction.

About kintaro63

Writer and teacher in Japan
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