An ESL Listening Lesson Plan Template | Teaching English Listening

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ESL listening lesson plan template

I Had no Idea about How to Teach ESL Listening

I’m always surprised when I get reader questions or talk to people preparing for their upcoming job interviews that they don’t know how to make a basic lesson plan. But, it’s not so crazy and I actually had no system of any sort until I took the CELTA course a few years back. After that course, I could recite the basic ESL listening lesson plan in my sleep! Thank you CELTA! (If anyone is interested in doing the CELTA course in Korea, you’ll need to see this post: Is it possible to do the CELTA in Korea?)

The ESL listening lesson plan that I’m going to share with you today is modelled after that and it can provide you a solid foundation upon which to expand and adjust to suit the needs of your own class. There are five basic ESL lesson plan steps and one optional step for a class focused on listening that I’ll describe below.

ESL Listening Plan Template

Step #1: Set the Context

It’s really difficult for our students if we start the class off by getting straight into the task. Think of a car on a cold, cold winter day (I’m from Canada!). First of all, all sensible people will plug their car in overnight in order to keep a bit of current running through the engine. Then, you put on your cold-weather gear for a little sprint out to the car and cross your fingers, hoping it’ll start. Once it does, you go back into the house for a few minutes to give it some time to get the juices flowing and ready to go. If you neglect warming up your car, it may start but you’ll cause more wear and tear than if you gave it a few minutes to get going which is going to cost you in the long-run.

What I’m saying is that you need to help your students ease into the lesson by letting them get used to speaking English again. They also come into your classes with plenty of prior knowledge so it can be really useful if you take advantage of this so that later on in the lesson, students can connect the old with the new.

During one of my CELTA lessons, I was given a listening exercise dealing with medical dilemmas. I started off the class by asking students to talk with their partner for a couple of minutes about any medical dilemmas that they’ve seen or heard in the news the past few years.

Don’t forget to set the context at the beginning of your ESL listening lesson.

Step #2: Pre-Listening Task

In the pre-listening task, you move from the more general of step #1 into the more specific as you now begin to focus on the actual listening exercise that your students are going to do. I often like to do prediction exercises where I reveal a little bit of information and then students have to make a guess about something. Then, in the next step they’ll have to listen to see if their guess was correct. It’s the perfect way to give your students a reason to listen.

However, in the case of this medical dilemma lesson, the vocabulary was quite difficult. I was pretty sure that most of the students in the class wouldn’t be familiar with a lot of it. I gave the students a little worksheet to do with their partner to help familiarize themselves with the key words and then I asked some “CCQ’s” (concept checking questions) in order to make sure they really understood the words.

Step #3: Gist Listening Task

Students will listen to the passage twice. The first time is to get the big picture of what’s going on. The second listening is to get the finer details. If they get everything the first time, it’s too easy. If they need more than two times, it’s too difficult.

You should always give your students a reason to listen or read something so be sure to set a task. But, make it pretty easy such as a few True/False questions dealing with the big picture stuff, or they can see if their prediction from the previous stage was true.

Students compare answers and then you can quickly check. But, don’t get into the nitty-gritty details at this stage-that come’s next.

Step #4: Main Listening Task

In this stage, the students will listen a second time to the passage. Give them a task such as short answer or fill-in-the-blanks questions. They can be a bit trickier and focused on some of the nuances at this point.

Have students again compare answers with a partner. Then you can check answers as a class. You can go into the finer details if necessary.

Step #5: Post-Listening Task

I usually like to have students give their opinion about something that they heard in the listening. For the medical dilemma one, the woman in the story wanted the doctor to help her commit suicide but it was illegal in her country. The question was whether or not doctors should be able to help patients do this.

(Optional) Step #6: Speaking Task

I often like to throw in a speaking task at the end of a listening or reading lesson because it can lighten up the mood a little bitt. Additionally, lots of speaking is often what students expect in our classes! For the previous example, I had students switch partners and then I gave them a new medical dilemma. They had to assign for/against roles and then have a mini 5-minute debate. They switched partners again and this time changed roles.

Looking for other kinds of ESL Lesson Plan Templates?

ESL Speaking Lesson Plan Template

ESL Reading Lesson Plan Template

Like this ESL Listening Lesson Plan? 

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  1. Tania

    this kinda helps but then it kinda doesn’t. I have to do an imaginary listening lesson based on an article for intermediate students 19-24 age. And I have studied looked thought and tried to come up with a stage lesson plan and I can’t. could you help me? I have been working on it for 2wks now and don’t know what to do.

  2. Troy

    Ah yes, the classic Comprehension Approach. The fundamental problem with the CA, of course, is that it tests, not teaches; that is, the CA focusses on the product of listening rather than the process of decoding the stream of speech, which is the challenge for learners of English. If you, or anyone reading this comment, is interested in going beyond the basic – and flawed – CELTA approach to teaching the listening skill, I strongly recommend reading John Field’s Listening In The Language Classroom. Your students will thank you.

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