The introductions and your first few lessons are over, so now is the time as an ALT in Japan when you should be getting the hang of things. However, sometimes ALTs aren’t really prepared to create a basic lesson structure. That’s where this A Little Training for ALTs post comes in.
Today, we’ll go over a typical lesson plan and break down what should be included in each part. This structure can be adapted for any class and any level. So, if you’re in doubt or curious about what an actual ALT’s class entails, then please this article is for you.
Keeping the same structure when you come up with your lessons will not only make them easier to create, but it will make it easier for your students to understand what you are teaching. For example, they will expect you to greet them at the beginning of each lesson as you have done so far while teaching them. So, when you arrive, they will be ready and have their minds set to “greeting mode.”
The same will go for the other part of the lesson. So, let’s begin.
You always want to start the class with some form of greeting. The students — depending on the period in which they have English — may have other classes or school events on their mind. This will pull their focus to English mode and have them ready to speak in another language. You can keep it simple with the first and second graders just by saying “Hello” and “How are you?” Just keep adding more greetings as they improve or as you teach the higher grades. For example for the fifth- and sixth-year students, questions like, “How is the weather” or “What day is it?” are par for the course
2. Warm up
In this section, you can review a previous lesson’s topic very quickly. You could use the last lesson’s activity to make sure the students still have the topic in mind. Repeating an activity will not only remind them of what they learned but reinforce the point so they don’t forget. You can also do a very quick warm up such as a song or a simple game that will get them moving around. You can have them greet friends or have them ask a question. Just like working out, you don’t want to start the new exercises with your body still cold.
Repeating an activity will not only remind them of what they learned, but reinforce the point so they don’t forget.
Here, you will introduce new materials or topics to the class. Essentially, you are doing exactly what this section is titled: “practicing.” This is important because — as the teacher — you can make sure the students understand the rule or pattern. Make sure they repeat and polish before you start your activity or game. If they don’t understand — or cannot say — the new material, there is no point.
4. Activity or game
This is the part the students look forward to the most. Preferably, you always want to have a fun game that incorporates the new material you’re teaching and they can practice. Coming up with a fun game each and every time is difficult, however, so you can also do general activities that will help them use as much English as possible. Make sure you explain your game or activity with very clear, slow and simple English. Demonstrating with the class’s Japanese teacher of English (JTE) is also a very good idea. If you have time, or your game was short, you can always have them participate in two activities per lesson.
You should make time before the end of the class to review what was taught and make sure that students understood the topic of the lesson. This also helps calm everyone down if you happened to have had an exciting game or activity.
The end of the lesson is your chance for goodbyes and simple banter. This tells the students that English time is over and gives them closure before they move on to their next class. This can be whatever you like, you can even have them stand up. Be sure to compliment them and set an encouraging tone for the next time you meet.
By following this template — or using it to create your own — you will make things easier for yourself when it’s time to make lesson plans. As an ALT in Japan, you will be busy in class every day, so you don’t want the added stress of preparing lesson plans each time. What you do want is to focus on having the best games and activities for your class and making their English learning experience as stimulating and positive as possible!