DipTESOL observed practice – lesson planning

Avoid my ramblings and skip to the end of this post for an example lesson plan for the DipTESOL observed practice.


The more you know about preparing the DipTESOL lessons before you start the observed practice, the better. You can find a great example of a lesson plan for Unit 4 on Gemma Lunn’s blog and, as Gemma mentions, you’ll find other tips on http://passthediploma.edublogs.org/ . I read this a lot during the run up to the observed teaching, and found it extremely useful. However, everyone’s experience of the diploma will be different – the post I read on passthediploma about the teaching practice didn’t match my experience at all. Fiona (who wrote the blog) mentioned that everyone on her course found it ‘relatively easy to fulfil the Unit 4 syllabus requirements for analysis, delivery and self-evaluation’. The fact that the delivery wasn’t as much of a challenge to that particular group of trainees probably reflects their level of experience. This comment really worried me – it made me think that my anxieties about the lesson delivery meant I wasn’t yet ready to do the teaching practice. Thankfully, when I met my fellow trainees I was reassured that everyone on my course was worried about the lesson delivery, and I bet none of us would describe it now as relatively easy. Fiona also mentioned the importance of keeping your lesson simple. In some ways, this was also at odds with my experience. I certainly found that what I did in the lesson was straightforward. Within about 5 minutes of planning for my final observed lesson, this was the lesson outline that I had down on paper:

  1. Review target language from lessons 1-5 (10 mins)
  2. Introduce new target language. Clarify, drill, etc. (15 mins)
  3. Roleplay – practice all target language from the sequence of lessons (30 mins)
  4. Error correction (5 mins)

This was simple enough. This is pretty similar to the notes I take into class when I don’t have a formal lesson plan – providing I’m aware of how I’m going to implement each stage. But the how I will do each stage was far from simple. One option was to be conversative – stick with activities that were tried and tested, in my comfort zone. There is nothing wrong with this approach – especially if you’ve already got a good repertoire of exciting and creative activities. Well I hadn’t, so I had to opt for plan B – try a few new things out and hope to pull it off. My attitude was this: I went on the course to develop as a teacher. I’d just spent 9 months trying out new things, with varying degrees of success. If I stick with what I know and I don’t pull it off then it might not reflect well on me. If I give something else a go and it flops then I’ve got something to talk about after the lesson. The examiners are teachers themselves, they’ll probably offer some good feedback on how I could have improved it, so I’ll know for next time. Again though, what was a ‘new idea’ to me might be fairly commonplace to someone else. Before the diploma teaching practice, I had RARELY done these things: Recorded my own listening materials Taught so many lexical chunks during a lesson Written down so much phonemic script on a lesson plan Created so many preparatory activities to allow intermediate learners to access an authentic text And I’d NEVER done these Made up a miming drill to teach directions Not used the whiteboard and kept all input verbal Used a jazz chant Used a substitution drill I probably should have tried a lot of these things before. Anyway, I tried all these during the teaching practice. They didn’t do me any harm, not all of them did me much good either, but at least I learnt more about my teaching by trying them. That was the point of the course for me. My colleague Martin Sketchley (ELT experiences) took a similar approach, and said it helped him get the most out of the course. If you want to keep it simple that’s fine, but there’s more than one way to skin a cat. That really is a horrible phrase, isn’t it?!

Example lesson plan

I’ve attached an example lesson plan, as I think it’s nice to have more examples like the one Gemma provides. That way you can start to work out some general things that the examiners are after – it’s easier to see this in a plan sometimes rather than to go by the syllabus requirements. When I looked over Gemma’s plan before the teaching practice, I thought it was really comprehensive. The learner profiles are a particular strength, and I modelled my own on these. There’s a lot of sections included on Gemma’s plan that I didn’t use, e.g. Class profile Personal aims Assumed knowledge Summary of lesson plan   Gemma’s example is certainly better organised – I’ve ended up embedding comments on personal aims or assumed knowledge within the rationale or other sections. I guess this made it harder for the examiner to analyse. Even so, they both met the Distinction criteria, so it should give you an idea of what’s needed.

example lesson plan

example lesson resources



  1. Hello! I’m in the middle of my certTESOL and stumbled across your page. I love your lesson plan! I was just observed teaching my new group for the first time. I said I thought they were very quiet and reticent. My observer said I should encourage responses, especially during ICQ. So, you inspired me to think, maybe I could devote some of my next lesson to instructions, assistance, seeking clarification, understanding/not understanding nd etc.. Might give them some vocab to play with next I ask them for responses!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey! Cheers for reading my post. How’s the cert going? Sounds like ur doing exactly the right thing – listening to feedback, processing it and working that into ur practice. Top notch! Good luck with the course and let me know if there’s anything ur stuck on. I’m always happy to chat and help new teachers out 🙂


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