Study skills and useful expressions

Low-resource ESL lesson plan
Adult Beginner
Low-resource ESL lesson plan
Getting Started
Low-resource ESL lesson plan
60 min
Low-resource ESL lesson plan
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The focus of this lesson is on classroom communication and study skills. The students will learn some useful classroom phrases, explore a variety of free language learning tools and apps, and have some fun with a role-play activity where they exchange basic personal information.

The lesson plan starts with two optional warm-up activities to prepare your students for class. There are notes on suggested boardwork to help out new teachers. It also includes several ESL activities suitable for low-resource classrooms, a homework task to reinforce the day's learning and an idea for a fun ESL classroom game to wrap up the lesson.


Low-resource ESL classroom game

Giving personal information

The students will revise giving some personal information using language they learned during a previous lesson.

If you have already taught the students to give some personal information, go around the class and ask each student a few questions. You can build on this by adding new questions each week. For this lesson, we'll start with the items from the first lesson in this course.

How are you?
What's your name?
Where are you from?

Low-resource ESL classroom game

Vocabulary pictionary

The teacher draws images on the board of recently learned vocabulary items while the students attempt to guess what they are.

This simple warmer can be a great way to wake up sleepy students and get them thinking about English vocabulary. Start to slowly draw images on the board that represent some classroom vocabulary that the students learned during the previous lesson. When a student guesses correctly, invite them to spell it and add the spelling to the board. You can use the list from lesson 1 but feel free to add to it:

  1. desk
  2. chair
  3. pencil
  4. pen
  5. notebook
  6. bag
  7. board/whiteboard
  8. teacher


Classroom activities

Low-resource ESL lesson plan

Use of the board

The students learn some useful classroom phrases and review a few beneficial study tools and habits.

If you don't have a translator available and you have little knowledge of the students' L1 (first language), you should research some translations before the lesson.

Step through each of the classroom expressions with the students one at a time. Use the command "Repeat after me." from the first lesson in this course. For smaller groups, you can single out students to repeat phrases so that you can work on common errors. Be sure to target known pronunciation trouble spots related to the L1 of your class and spend more time on them. You may need to do some research beforehand to find out what these are. The earlier you can correct them, the better it is for the student.

The rest of the board work for this lesson is related to the other activities.

Low-resource ESL activity

All the help I can get

For this activity, you will present some of the free apps and tools available that will supplement your students' learning throughout this course.

Familiarise yourself with the following free apps and give a short demonstration of how your students can use them to supplement their learning:

DuoLingo: Language-learning website and mobile app.

Anki Flashcards: (AnkiDriod on Android, AnkiMobile Flashcards on iOS) A flashcard app where users can download decks of vocabulary flashcards for learning English. The app uses the concept of spaced repetition to help with vocabulary memorization.

Google translate: Both you and your students should be familiar with this app. However, you may not be familiar with how to use it to improve pronunciation. The text-to-speech function will transcribe what you say and translate it. Therefore, if you are not pronouncing the word correctly, you will know. You should demonstrate this particular feature with the students and encourage them to use it to help with their pronunciation skills.

Depending on the technology available to you and the size of the class, it may be better to use a projector.

If the students have smartphones, and there is WiFi available, you could let them set these apps up in the class.

Finally, advise that your students keep a separate notebook for vocabulary. If you are learning the local language, you may even have one of your own to show them. Encourage them to add any new words to this notebook and study it for 5-10 minutes each day.

One way they can do this is to record new vocabulary in a table, along with its type (noun, verb etc.), a translation and simple example sentence. Add this table to the board and add a few sample rows to demonstrate (see the board work for this lesson).

Low-resource ESL activity idea

Interview prep

The students will learn a few simple questions that they can use to get personal information from their classmates.

This activity will prepare the students for the next speaking activity. One at a time, add the following questions to the board along with the L1 translation.

  1. What is your name?
  2. Where are you from?
  3. How old are you?
  4. What do you do?

Practice the pronunciation of each by having the class repeat it after you. Do this as many times as you feel is necessary before moving on to the next one. Repetition is key at this level.

Low-resource ESL activity idea

Role-play: Giving personal information

If you have prepped the questions from the previous activity, you can now do this pair-work speaking activity.

Start by adding a table to the board with the headings namefromage and occupation. Make sure your students understand the meaning of each before moving on. Remember, if you don't have a translator available, you may have to look up the translations beforehand.

Next, demonstrate the activity by interviewing one of the students. Complete the table with their answers as you go. Use the phrase "Can you spell that please?" so the students can see it used in context. Encourage them to do the same when they are unsure of the spelling.

Finally, divide the group into pairs and have them interview each other using the questions from the previous activity. For each person they interview, they should complete one row of the table. If you have time, do this activity until they have filled four rows of their table.

If there are an uneven number of students or the group is small, insert yourself into this activity. Look out for common pronunciation errors and address these when the students have finished with their interviews. Also, You may have to translate a few occupations for this activity, so be ready for their questions.

Low-resource ESL lesson plan

Suggested homework

The students must learn and practise full sentence responses to the interview questions they learned during this lesson.

During the previous activities, the students got away with single word responses to the interview questions. Therefore, an excellent little homework activity would be to have them research and rehearse answers that are a full sentence for each of the items.

If you have time during the class, demonstrate a sample response to the first question. Inform the students that they will each have to produce answers as a warmer for the next lesson.

Classroom games

Low-resource ESL classroom game

Noughts and crosses

Students must spell words correctly to claim squares on a grid for their team.

Divide the class into two teams, draw a 'noughts and crosses' grid on the board and number the squares from one to nine. Assign known vocabulary to each square, but don't show the students. For example:

  1. name
  2. notebook
  3. table
  4. repeat
  5. whiteboard
  6. pencil
  7. old
  8. chair
  9. bag

On each turn, ask a student from one of the teams to select a square on the grid. That student must then spell that square's assigned word correctly to claim it on the grid for their team. Make the centre square the most difficult.