Lesson Frameworks

There are seven general lesson types based on the four language skills (reading, listening, speaking, and writing) and three system frameworks (Present-Practice-Produce (PPP), Test-Teach-Test (TTT), and Text-based) that can interchangeably be used for the three main language systems: vocabulary, grammar, and functions. 

Remember:

Advice from an anonymous teacher

Below are the stage frameworks for each of the main lesson types. 

The Four Skills (Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing):

The four skills are sub-divided by receptive (reading and listening) or productive (speaking and writing). Each skill has their own particular lesson framework to follow. Receptive skill lessons (reading and listening ones) follow the same framework while productive skill ones follow two different frameworks (one focusing on speaking and the other on writing). Below are summaries of each of the lesson stages with links (just click the relevant headings) to a detailed description of each one including examples and video demonstrations. 

Receptive Skills:

Reading Lessons & Listening Lessons:

  • Lead-inEngage the students in the context of the lesson. Generally, a good practice for a lead-in is to elicit a keyword relating to the topic, and then give them a pair-speaking activity also relating to the topic. Try to keep the lead-in to be around 3 minutes minimum and 7 minutes maximum. It’s good practice to tie the lead-in with what they’ll be doing in the productive activity.
  • [Vocabulary Language Clarification/Pre-Teach Blocking Vocabulary]Teach words (typically 4-7) that might be difficult for the students to understand and that will block their ability to comprehend the main idea and important details of the article. 
  • Introduce Reading or Listening Text with a Gist Question(s): Introduce the reading or listening with a comprehension question(s) so the students can practice reading or listening for the main idea. 
  • [Vocabulary Language Clarification/Pre-Teach Blocking Vocabulary]: Teach possible challenging vocabulary for the students to understand after the gist but before the more detailed or specific info reading or listening  comprehension questions that will follow.
  • Further Comprehension Questions: Give the students further reading or listening practice with more specific comprehension questions. Typical comprehension questions focus on reading for detail (to get a deeper comprehension of the written text) and scanning for specific information (i.e. looking for keywords such as a specific time, number(s), or word(s) etc.)
  • [Preparation]: Here the students can do some sort of quick activity to help them prepare for the proceeding productive activity i.e. brainstorming, writing down some notes, speaking in partners, doing a modified version of the productive task etc. These activities are optional, and if done, should be done so rather quickly (perhaps 2-5 min tops). Typically, if writing takes place during this stage, it should be done via quick notes rather than full sentences or paragraphs.
  • Productive Activity (Speaking or Writing): Give them an activity that has them practicing a productive skill (speaking or writing) for fluency, meaning that you want to have activities that promote student-to-student interaction speaking with an uninterrupted flow or a writing activity that promotes writing at the paragraph level with connected sentences (not just writing notes, bulletin points, or separate individual sentences). 
  • [Productive Activity (Speaking or Writing) 2]: Sometimes it’s nice to have two productive activities time permitting. Both could be two writing or two speaking activities, though, might be nice to have, perhaps, one focused on speaking and the other on writing. Just note, if you have two productive activities, make sure they both focus on fluency development and realize that reading out loud (i.e. something they wrote in the previous productive activity) is NOT a true speaking activity (that would be reading out loud). Speaking requires with coming up with language on the spot, not reading a pre-written script (which would be more focused on pronunciation).

Note: The stages in [ ] are optional; in terms of the vocab focus stages, usually you will do either/or i.e. either pre-teach after or before the gist task but not both. Also, if you do not think there is any blocking vocabulary that needs to be taught, then you can bypass teaching vocabulary all together in a receptive lesson. The preparation activity is completely optional. 

Productive Skills:

 Speaking Lessons:

  • Lead-inEngage the students in the context of the lesson. Generally, a good practice for a lead-in is to elicit a keyword relating to the topic, and then give them a pair-speaking activity also relating to the topic. Try to keep the lead-in to be around 3 minutes minimum and 7 minutes maximum. It’s good practice to link the lead-in with the final speaking task (e.g. could have a brainstorm during the lead-in that relates to the final speaking activity). 
  • Introduce Text/Gist Question(s)/Demo of Task: This stage usually provides some form of text (and by ‘text’ it could be either reading or listening) that sets the context and ideally acts as some kind of demo of the final speaking task. Whenever you introduce a text, you should introduce it with a gist question (a comprehension question that focuses on the main idea). Alternatively, you can do a model of the task as the teacher in front of/with the students e.g. If you want them to do a presentation of the city they’re from in small groups, you can start by doing one in front of the class about the city you’re from. 
  • [Noticing/Analysis Task]: The noticing task will draw the students’ attention to the target language of the lesson used in the previous text (if a text was used), which will be focused on in the next stage. 
  • Language Clarification/Language Focus: Here you will clarify meaning, form, and pronunciation (or MFP) of the target language (the ‘TL’). You can decide to clarify grammar, vocabulary, or functions depending on what will be most useful in terms of facilitating the final speaking activity (i.e. If it’s a role play at a restaurant, perhaps phrases like: “Could I get the…”, “Does the __ come with __?” etc.)
  • [Preparation]: Here the students will do some sort of activity to help them for the final speaking task i.e. brainstorming, writing down some notes, doing a modified version of the final task etc. 
  • Productive Speaking ActivityHere is where the main aim of the lesson will take place; the students will practice speaking for fluency in some sort of communicative activity format. The bulk of the time of the lesson should be dedicated to this stage.  Think of having various layers of different stages and interaction patterns here to give the students plenty of time to practice speaking for fluency.

Note: The stages in [ ] are optional.

Writing Lessons:

  • Lead-inEngage the students in the context of the lesson. Generally, a good practice for a lead-in is to elicit a keyword relating to the topic, and then give them a pair-speaking activity also relating to the topic. Try to keep the lead-in to be around 3 minutes minimum and 7 minutes maximum. It’s good practice to link the lead-in with the writing task. 
  • Introduce Model Text with Gist Question(s): In this stage, you introduce a text that will typically act as a model for the type of writing that the students will be writing later in the lesson e.g. reading a review of a product before writing their own review of a product. Note, whenever you introduce a text, you should introduce it with a gist question (a comprehension question that focuses on the main idea of the text). 
  • [Noticing/Analysis Task]The noticing task will draw the students’ attention to the target language of the lesson (or the ‘TL’), which will be focused on in the next stage. 
  • Language Clarification/Language Focus: Here you will clarify meaning, form, and pronunciation (or MFP) of the target language (the ‘TL’). However, note that pronunciation focus is NOT mandatory for a writing lesson because the main aim is for them to write, not speak (and, therefore, do not need to clarify pronunciation, though, by all means can be done). 
  • [Preparation]: Here the students will do some sort of activity to help them for the final writing task i.e. brainstorming, writing down some notes, speaking in partners, doing a modified version of the final task etc. 
  • Productive Writing Activity/Writing 1st Draft: Students write first draft focusing on fluency development, which should be done in an uninterrupted flow without the students stopping their writing to ask questions about content organization, grammar, or vocabulary use (which can be dealt with later during the editing & revising stages). Remember that fluency focus needs to be aimed at writing at the paragraph level e.g not just notes, bulletin points, or individual sentences.  
  • [Self Editing]: After having already written in a somewhat quickly and uninterrupted manner focusing on fluency, the students then self edit their work in terms of both content (text organization, ideas etc.) and language (i.e. grammar, punctuation, accurate use of target/specific language etc.). 
  • [Revision]Students then revise their papers based on the previous editing stages.
  • [Peer Editing]Students trade their papers with other students – either in partners or maybe even in groups – and edit ideally in terms of both content (text organization, ideas, etc.) and language (grammar, punctuation, accurate use of target/specific language etc.). 
  • [Revision]Students then revise their papers based on the previous editing stages.
  • [Teacher Editing]Teacher gets the revised edition from the previous editing stages and edits the paper. Make sure that you have some set criteria of which to focus your editing on because editing every detail of an ESL students’ work can be quite the time-consuming task – and if you give too much error correction feedback, it could even be overly discouraging for your learners.
  • [Revision]Students then revise their papers based on the previous editing stages.
  • Publishing: Students publish their writing piece, which can be done either inside the classroom by sharing their papers with other students (i.e. posting their papers on the walls of the class and having other students read them, passing them around, leaving them on the table, or giving a presentation on it etc.), or perhaps even on some kind of blog or other platform outside of the classroom (i.e. WordPress site, Facebook, Yelp, Blackboard, Edmodo etc.)

Note: The stages in [ ] are optional in terms of which of them you employ depending on your classroom dynamics, size, and time schedule.

Productive Skills Comprehension Check:

1. Which stages are the same in the writing and speaking lesson frameworks? 

2. Which stages are different? 

3. Which stages are optional in the writing lesson? Why do you think they’re optional?

4. What do you think the lesson timing of a writing lesson should be? 

Systems (Grammar, Vocabulary, and Functions):

The three systems lessons are grammar (e.g. teaching verb tenses), vocabulary (i.e. words or phrases), and functions (e.g. language used to perform a function like ordering food in a restaurant e.g. “Can I get the …”). Systems lessons differ to skills lessons because the type of lesson framework is not based on the category of system focus (i.e. vocabulary, grammar, or functions) but on three different framework templates that can be used for any of the system lesson types i.e. you can use the ‘TTT’ framework (see below for details) for either grammar, vocabulary, or functional language lessons, for example. 

Present-Practice-Produce (PPP)/Situational:

  • Lead-in: Engage the students in the context of the lesson, generally, a good practice for a lead-in is to elicit a keyword relating to the topic, and then give them a pair-speaking activity also relating to the topic. Try to keep the lead-in to be around 3 minutes minimum and 7 minutes maximum. It’s good practice to tie the lead-in with what they will be doing in their freer activity. Note: you should NOT focus on the TL (the target language) of the lesson at this point i.e. the grammar, vocabulary, or functional language point you are teaching. The main aim of this stage is to set the context NOT teach a language point. 
  • Eliciting: Elicit examples of the target language (the language you want to focus on in the lesson) based on the context you set during the lead-in and perhaps using some kind of additional tools such as visual aids (i.e. an image of a vocabulary word). Eliciting requires getting the students to come up with the target language examples (rather than just giving it to them) e.g. to elicit the word ‘pizza’ you could ask the students: “What do we call that piece of food that is round and is made of bread, tomato sauce, and cheese?” or you could show them an image of pizza and ask the students if they know what we call this type of food. 
  • Language Clarification (Present): Clarify the TL (the target language) in terms of meaning, pronunciation, and form [MPF (or MFP)]. You can clarify via presentation mode (i.e. explaining the TL in front of a white board) or via a guided-discovery activity (an activity where the students discover the rules regarding MPF from examples of the TL). 
  • *Controlled Practice (Practice): After clarification, you give them a controlled practice activity so that they get practice using the TL with a focus on developing accuracy.
  • *Freer Practice (Produce): Give the students practice using the TL (target language) in a freer less restricted environment that ideally will also have them practicing speaking or writing for fluency as well. Remember that for this activity using the target language is the main aim of the activity, so, therefore, it is necessary for them to use it.  

*Note: After language clarification, you can add as many controlled or freer practice as you like to any of the system frameworks – time permitting.

Test-Teach-Test (TTT):

  • Lead-inEngage the students in the context of the lesson, generally, a good practice for a lead-in is to elicit a keyword relating to the topic, and then give them a pair-speaking activity also relating to the topic. Also, try to keep the lead-in to be around 3 minutes minimum and 7 minutes maximum. It’s good practice to tie the lead-in with what they will be doing in their freer activity. Remember, for a systems lesson, you do NOT want to focus on the TL (target language) explicitly during the lead-in; however, you can expose the students to it implicitly i.e. discussing an anecdote with the TL imbedded in it. The main aim of this stage is to set the context, not teach a language point. 
  • Test #1: Diagnostic (Controlled Practice OR Freer PracticeYou give the students a ‘blind’ activity – by blind, I mean giving the students an activity before explicitly focusing on the grammar, vocabulary, or functional language of the activity. This test is aimed at ascertaining the knowledge/ability of the students before going into clarification as well as cognitively engaging the students in trying to ‘figure out’ how to use the target language without prior instruction. Usually this activity is a controlled practice one; however, if you are feeling a little more daring/creative you can have this activity be a freer one. 
  • Language ClarificationClarify the TL (the target language) in terms of meaning, pronunciation, and form [MPF (or MFP)]. You can clarify via presentation mode (i.e. explaining the TL in front of a white board) or via a guided-discovery activity (an activity where the students discover the rules regarding MPF from examples of the TL). 
  • Test #2 (*Controlled Practice): After clarification, you give them a controlled practice activity so that they get practice using the TL with a focus on developing accuracy.
  • *Freer Practice: Give the students practice using the TL (target language) in a freer less restricted environment that ideally will also have them practicing speaking or writing for fluency as well. Remember that for this activity using the target language is the main aim of the activity, so, therefore, it is necessary for them to use it.  

*Note: After language clarification, you can add as many controlled or freer practice as you like to any of the system frameworks – time permitting.

Text-Based:

  • Lead-inEngage the students in the context of the lesson, generally, a good practice for a lead-in is to elicit a keyword relating to the topic, and then give them a pair-speaking activity also relating to the topic. Also, try to keep the lead-in to be around 3 minutes minimum and 7 minutes maximum. It’s good practice to tie the lead-in with what they will be doing in their freer activity. Remember, for a systems lesson, you do NOT want to focus on the TL (target language) explicitly during the lead-in; however, you can expose the students to it implicitly i.e. discussing an anecdote with the TL imbedded in it. The main aim of this stage is to set the context, not teach a language point. 
  • Introduce Text with Gist Question: Introduce reading or listening text that has the target language you’d like to focus on imbedded in it (the grammar, vocabulary, or functional language of the lesson). Do so with a gist activity (where students read or listen for the main idea of the text before you bring their attention to the language you want to clarify in the next stage). 
  • [Noticing/Analysis Task]: The noticing task will draw the students’ attention to the target language of the lesson (or the ‘TL’) to focus on in the next stage. 
  • Language Clarification/Language Focus: Clarify the TL (the target language) in terms of meaning, pronunciation, and form [MPF (or MFP)]. You can clarify via presentation mode (i.e. explaining the TL in front of a white board) or via a guided-discovery activity (an activity where the students discover the rules regarding MPF from examples of the TL). 
  • *Controlled PracticeAfter clarification, you give them a controlled practice activity so that they get practice using the TL with a focus on developing accuracy.
  • *Freer Practice: Give the students practice using the TL (target language) in a freer less restricted environment that ideally will also have them practicing speaking or writing for fluency as well. Remember that for this activity using the target language is the main aim of the activity, so, therefore, it is necessary for them to use it.  

Note: The stages in [ ] are optional.

*Note: After language clarification, you can add as many controlled or freer practice as you like to any of the system frameworks – time permitting.

Mixing the Frameworks Together:

Here is an example that mixes the frameworks together to practice a variety of different language skills and systems together. Typically, such a framework would require around 60-90 minutes – leaning more towards the 90 minute time-limit.

  • Lead-inEngage the students in the context of the lesson. 
  • [Vocabulary Language Clarification/Pre-Teach Blocking Vocabulary]Teach words (typically 5-7) that might be difficult for the students to understand and that will block their ability to comprehend the main idea and important details of the article. 
  • Introduce Listening Text/Gist Question(s): Introduce the listening with a comprehension question(s) so the students can practice listening for the main idea.
  • [Vocabulary Language Clarification/Pre-Teach Blocking Vocabulary]: Teach difficult vocabulary from context after the gist but before the more detailed comprehension questions. 
  • Reading Audio script/Further Comprehension QuestionsGive the students an audio script along with further comprehension questions so that they can practice reading for more detail and/or specific information.
  • [Noticing/Analysis Task]: The noticing task will draw the students’ attention to the target language of the lesson (or the ‘TL’) to focus on in the next stage and which will be associated with the final freer/productive activity of the lesson. 
  • Language Clarification/Language Focus: Clarify the TL (the target language) in terms of meaning, pronunciation, and form [MPF (or MFP)]. You can clarify via presentation mode (i.e. explaining the TL in front of a white board) or via a guided-discovery activity (an activity where the students discover the rules regarding MPF from examples of the TL). 
  • Controlled PracticeAfter clarification, you give them a controlled practice activity giving students practice of the target language with a focus on developing accuracy.
  • Freer/Productive PracticeGive the students practice speaking or writing for fluency with a focus on using the target language (TL) within the general context of the lesson. 

Note: The stages in [ ] are optional.

Overall Comprehension Check:

  1. What’s the first stage in every type of framework? And why is this stage important?
  2. What’s an important point to take note of for lead-ins of a language systems’ lesson?  
  3. If you are teaching the 2nd conditional (i.e. If I were.., I would ..) in the context of being stranded on a desert island, what should the content of your lead-in be focused on? Being stranded on a desert island or teaching the 2nd conditional? Can you give an example of a lead-in?
  4. In regards to input and output (on part of the students), what’s the general trend of all of the frameworks? Which comes first and leads into the other?
  5. In regards to controlled and freer activities, what’s the general trend of all of the frameworks? Which comes first and leads into the other? 

Answers:

(Don’t Check Until You’ve Attempted to Answer the Questions in the Comments)

Productive Skills Comprehension Check:

1. Which stages are the same in the writing and speaking lesson frameworks? A: Lead-in, Introducing a text with gist question(s), [noticing task], clarifying language/language focus, and preparation stage. 

2. Which stages are different? A: Productive speaking vs. writing task, [Self editing], [peer editing], [revising], and publishing. 

3. Which stages are optional in the writing lesson? Why do you think they’re optional? A: The editing and revising stages. They are optional because practically speaking they can take a long time to do, so depending on your lesson time frame, you might want to skip those stages i.e. if you want to fit your lesson into a 40 minute time-frame. Also, you might just have one student in which case doing ‘peer editing’ wouldn’t be an option. Finally, it can be awkward to edit and revise using paper and pen if computers not available. 

4. What do you think the lesson timing of a writing lesson should be? A: It depends on the class, teacher, time-frame, and lesson aims. A writing lesson can be 40, 60, 90 minutes long, or even span over a couple of days – i.e. when you include the editing and revising stages. 

Overall Comprehension Check:

  1. What’s the first stage in every type of framework? And why is this stage important? A: The lead-in. It engages the students in the context of the entire lesson. 
  2. What’s an important point to take note of for lead-ins of a language systems’ lesson?  A: You should not focus on the TL (or any language point for that matter) during the lead-in. Focus on the setting the context instead. 
  3. If you are teaching the 2nd conditional (i.e. If I were.., I would ..) in the context of being stranded on a desert island, what should the content of your lead-in be focused on? Being stranded on a desert island or teaching the 2nd conditional? Can you give an example of a lead-in? A: Being stranded on a desert island. For example, show a video clip of ‘Castaway’ and ask the students where is Tom Hanks (A: on a desert island) and what’s his problem (A: he’s stranded). 
  4. In regards to input and output (on part of the students), what’s the general trend of all of the frameworks? Which comes first and leads into the other? A: Input typically comes before output so that you can clearly set the context of the lesson, give them examples of use of the target language, feed them ideas to be creative, and feed them language so that they can be prepared to do output at the end of the lesson (i.e. in a freer or productive activity). 
  5. In regards to controlled and freer activities, what’s the general trend of all of the frameworks? Which comes first and leads into the other? A: Typically controlled comes first so that they can first get used to using the language and work on accuracy before going to a freer environment, which focuses more on fluency. 

Reflection:

Do you agree or disagree with the suggested answers? How about the organization of the frameworks? Is there anyway that you could adapt and/or mix and match them?

Leave a comment below. 

2 Comments

  1. Luis Pérez Bravo

    Thanks a lot for all this info. It is of great use.

    Reply
  2. luciana da silva

    thanks for sharing

    Reply

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