Killer Classes: The 4 Hour ESL Lesson Plan

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4 hour ESL class lesson plan

Do you have some ridiculously long English classes and are struggling to figure out what to do in them? Then you’re certainly in the right place.

I’m going to give you the low-down about what I do in my 4-hour classes with advanced level students. Yes, it really doesn’t have to be gruelling, terrible, boring, or whatever negative word you usually associate with them!

And yes, you don’t just have to show movies to kill time. Instead, fill the hours with productive activities.

4 Hour ESL Lesson Plan: One Coherent Theme

At my Korean university, there’s this overseas internship preparation program where there are 4 hour classes, with the same teacher and same students. It’s a bit killer on the teacher, as well as the students but I try to make it as painless as possible for everyone involved.

It’s not easy, but I try my best. The temptation is to just do 2 or 3 different, random things but I try to avoid that if possible and have some sort of coherent theme that ties everything together. This just seems to work better for the students and I hope that what I was teaching was more memorable for them because of this.

Youth Unemployment in Korea Lesson Plan

Here’s a 4 hour ESL lesson plan on the topic of Youth Unemployment. Of course, if you don’t teach in South Korea, you probably shouldn’t use this lesson plan for your classes!

That said, the principles are the same, so just choose a topic more relevant to your students. Ideally, you could choose a similar reading or listening passage about youth unemployment in your own country and then much of the world would be done for you.

Here are steps I followed for this advanced ESL lesson:

Warm-up riddles + Setting the Context

Lots of students come late so I do some riddles for 5-10 minutes while people stream in. This was the only thing that was not related to the main theme of the lesson.

Then I have the students talk with a partner and then the whole class together about some general questions related to hopes for the future in terms of jobs, etc. Basically, I want to set the context and get my students thinking about what’s coming up.

Reading-first time

I had the students read the passage quickly (less than a minute, CELTA style) and then asnwer some true/false questions. Then, they compared their answers with a partner and then whole class. Here’s the article and questions that I use for this lesson plan.

Reading-second time

This time, the students read slowly and have to answer some difficult comprehension questions. After that, they talk with a partner or small group at first and then quickly together as an entire class. This part often leads to some pretty interesting discussions so in a class this long, feel free to let the students take it where it might go.

Youth Unemployment Video-first time

What is the program about from this video? My students have to talk with a partner and then we discuss the video with the whole class.

Video-second time  

Would this program work in Korea? Talk with partner and then with whole class.

Kiva Microfinance Organization

Show the website and talk about what they do, watch their short video, etc. Choose someone to “lend” money to. I then talk about why I love to use Kiva.

Speech time  

Groups of 4 students brainstorm ways to reduce youth unemployment in Korea. Each person choose their favorite and prepare a 2 minute speech about why it’s the best solution. Give speech to group and other 3 members must ask a difficult question each. One person from each group can share their solution with the class.

Follow Up for the Topic

If there’s still time at the end, I’ll have an emergency activity or two. It usually involves writing a paragraph about something related to the topic.

Even more ideas for making your time in the classroom awesome

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Learn More about How to Plan an ESL Lesson

Check out this short video below for even more information about making your English lessons awesome:

Have your Say about this ESL Lesson Plan!

What are your thoughts about this lesson plan for a super-long class? Do you have any tips or tricks for planning an English class that’s this long? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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