English lesson made easy
“Wait a minute,” I said to my friend, “How is the start of an English lesson like a piece of bread?”
“Well, you have to tell the students what the lesson is going to be about, right? That’s what the bread does. It tells people ‘I’m a sandwich!’ Without it, no-one knows what it is, or what to do next.
Same in preparing an English lesson. You have to tell people what’s coming
Then they know what to do. If they don’t know what to do, they are nervous. They will have a lot of trouble!”
I had been having trouble planning an English lesson the other day. I thought, what should I do? I asked a friend. He said, “It’s like a sandwich!”
I thought about it for a moment. Then I said, “Sandwich? How is it like a sandwich?”
He said, “Think about it. In a lesson, first, you tell them what you are going to teach them. Then you teach it to them. Then you tell them what you taught them. That helps them remember the whole English lesson.
A sandwich is like that. First, you have the bread on the bottom. That is the base. You build the sandwich on that. Then you put in the meat and other fillings. Then you put the top piece of bread on it. That holds it all together. And the top and the bottom are really the same!”
“Ok,” I said, ” So bread on the bottom is the start of the lesson. You make the lesson clear to the students. But what about the filling?”
“That’s the most important part! That’s what you really want to give to the customer… I mean the student. That is what you want to teach them!”
“So the meat is, say, teaching the past tense?”
“No, they already know the past tense. The meat is how to say the past tense in English. Give them the forms.”
“Then the meat is practicing the forms, right?” I asked.
“No, it is just showing them the forms… it is giving the basic information. The lettuce is the practice. They have to chew it, again and again, to get it right into themselves. If they don’t chew it enough, it can’t get into their bloodstream, right?”
“The bloodstream, eh? I think I get it. But what about the mustard? What’s that?”
“That is the spiciest part! That’s when you give them a chance to use the past tense in their own story. Practice is controlled. You set it up. It is necessary, and you make sure they use the past tense.
But mustard is the uncontrollable spicy part. You give them a chance to use the language in their own story. It is authentic then, and more difficult for the student. It also gives them a chance to make a mistake. And that’s the best part.”
“You mean its best if they make a mistake?”
“Of course! Then you know what they don’t know. Then you can help them correct it. If you don’t give them a chance to make a mistake in class, they will make it later. You want them to make lots of mistakes so you can correct them. Then the students will have the right patterns. They will be better speakers.”
“Now we are finished, right?” I asked again.
“No! Now we need the bread on top, ” he said.
“You have to review the English lesson for them, so they remember it. People experience things and forget quickly. Do you remember what you have for dinner three nights ago? If you’re like me, you forgot and it will take you a few moments to remember.”
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“You’re right, I forgot!”
“So you review the class with your students and they will remember it all easier later after they leave your class. See? The English lesson sandwich!”
I had to admit, my friend had a good comparison. If you think of an English lesson like a sandwich, it is easy to see the structure and to see what each part does. The bread at the top and bottom is like the beginning and the end. The contents are new material – the meat; review – the lettuce; freer practice – the spicy mustard (spicy because it is unpredictable). After that, it was easy laying out a lesson to teach each time.
Use this opportunity to make your own English lesson plan using the phrasal verbs in the story on this page.
About the Author
Les Perras is an English teacher in Ikoma, Japan. He teaches there in his own school, a franchise of Smith’s School of English. In addition, he is the author of the website English Listening World .