Planning your teaching

Subject: Linguistics. Course: Student teacher sessions in Morphology and Syntax. Study level: BA. Size of class: 10-25. 

Motivation for the activity

New teachers sometimes find it difficult to plan their teaching. You have to assess how long the individual activities will take, and how much you can get done in one lesson. A lesson plan is a simple tool that can help you to solve this problem.

Description of the activity

In my experience, the time spent on various activities in the classroom can be managed in many different ways. This is because there are major differences between the teachers, students and classes involved. What might take 15 minutes in one lesson can easily take 30 in the next.

So I always start by making a semester plan containing the overall topics and objectives of each lesson. Then I make an individual lesson plan for each session. This lesson plan is made using a fixed format, with approximate indications of time for all elements of the teaching, but allowing room for flexibility. 

For instance, a lesson plan might contain:

  • Exercises/activities/presentations/group work
  • An approximate indication of time for each element
  • Learning objectives for the individual activities
  • Notes on practical aspects and information for the students
  • Questions about the text/theory/assignment for each session

View a lesson plan template (Danish only) or a completed lesson plan (Danish only). 

Using a lesson plan makes it easier to decide whether I am getting the students sufficiently involved, and whether I am varying the forms of instruction enough. Defining specific learning objectives for each activity makes it easier to assess whether the students have learned what I had in mind, and whether the course is progressing satisfactorily.

At the bottom of the lesson plan I make room for notes, for instance any questions I need to follow up during the next lesson, which activities went well (or not so well), and anything we need to do in the next session because we ran out of time. Keeping all these things in one place in connection with the lesson concerned helps to make things clearer and gives your teaching a sense of logical progression.

Lesson plans are personal, and of course they need to meet your specific needs as a teacher. You can always add extra details to your lesson plan (or expand on the points you have already made). 

Useful tips

It’s a good idea to have two or three extra discussion exercises or examples up your sleeve in case the time passes more quickly than you expected (see Warm-up and cool-down exercises).

If the exercises take longer than expected, it is important that you have already decided which exercises should be given top priority. The least important activities can be placed at the end of the lesson.

Some questions and areas of interest always seem more important to the students than others. I always make sure I leave room for this in the lesson plan.

Here are some examples of different kinds of oral and written preparation.


Vibe Kromann, student and instructor at Linguistics.

What do I need to know before the teaching begins?

Template and examples

Lesson plan template

Here is an example of a lesson plan template which you can fill out yourself (Word) (Danish only).

Examples of lesson plans

Linguistics Morphology and Syntax (PDF) (Danish only)

Arab and Islamic Studies: Introductory Arabic (PDF) (Danish only)

Information Studies: Business and Technology (PDF) (Danish only)

Scandinavian Languages and Literature: Theory and Method of Literature (PDF) (Danish only)

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