Have you ever done something spontaneously?

Usually, it makes for a fun and exciting experience! 

But that is absolutely not the case when it comes to teaching, especially teaching English! 

Suppose you’re going on a vacation with your friends. Would you go somewhere with absolutely no plan in mind? You don’t know where you will stay, how you will get around once you’re there, which spots you’ll visit, what food you’ll eat…

Surely, at least some planning is required. At least, you have to sort out your accommodations and transportation. 

Likewise, you also need to plan your lessons. Every class session has an objective – and your plan is how you can achieve those objectives. 

So, plan your lessons carefully and avoid these 6 mistakes if you want your class to go off without a hitch! 

Starting with number 1… 

1. Not having a clear goal 

Making a lesson plan without a specific goal is like going out with no direction. Where do you want to go? You don’t know. So you just keep driving around in circles.  Pointless, exhausting, and a waste of time! 

Having a specific objective helps you create a framework to achieve those objectives. Essentially, having a clear goal makes you teach with more clarity, which in turn helps your students follow along and absorb the lesson better. 

With a clear goal, you can choose the appropriate exercises, activities, games, and resources. 

So, how does this look in practice? 

It’s actually quite simple! Take a look at these two examples of a teacher’s goal: 

  • By the end of the lesson, I want my students to have learned the simple past tense
  • By the end of the lesson, I want my students to be able to describe their past weekend activities.

See the difference? 

You might think the goal is essentially the same. But turning the goal into something more concrete really does help with lesson planning! 

From there, you can then map out the lesson structure… 

2. Having no lesson structure 

Related to the first point, having a lesson structure is definitely a must! 

After you’ve mapped out your lesson plan, the next thing you need is a structure!

Using the example above, your goal might be “By the end of the lesson, I want my students to be able to describe events that happened in the past”

Remember, a good lesson structure integrates three parts:

  • Learning objectives 
  • Learning activities 
  • Assessment to check students’ understanding 

Using the examples above, you can ask yourself these questions:

  • How will I explain about past events?
  • How can I engage my students to learn about the simple past tense?
  • What are some relevant real-life examples, analogies, or situations that can help students understand the topic?
  • What will students need to do to help them understand the topic better?

From there, you can start to structure your lesson. For example, you can… 

  • Convey the concept verbally with the help of a visual aid (such as powerpoint) 
  • Pair work: have students discuss their last vacation 
  • Exercise: have students do an exercise, perhaps fill in the blank for a past tense narrative text 
  • Quiz: check students’ understanding with a timed quiz

Lesson structure isn’t meant to be rigid. As we all know, our days are unpredictable, and you know your students best, however, it’s still good to have a guiding structure. 

It can serve as a sort of anchor to keep you from getting lost! 

3. Failing to include variety 

Quoting Melinda Schoenfeldt, a professor from the Department of Elementary, Ball State University, ““People learn what they want to learn.”

As teachers, we also have to deal with the challenge of getting our students to really take part in their lessons and not just come to class and sit there passively. 

So, what can we do to raise and maintain our students’ interest in learning?

The answer, as you might have guessed, is to include variety! 

You need to be creative when it comes to delivering your lessons. Try to incorporate different kinds of activities and games in your lessons, such as music, crafts, games, storytelling, group work, and anything else that will raise your students’ enthusiasm! 

4. Using the same lesson plan 

The coursebook and the class syllabus might be the same as last year’s, but your students won’t be. Each class is unique. What worked with your previous students might not be the best for your current students. Don’t forget that there’s always room for improvement!

 Each year, there will always be some new pop culture that becomes really popular – a popular song, artist, tv show, or movie. By updating that every year, you keep your materials relevant, which means your students will engage with your lessons better. 

If you’re happy with your lesson plan and think it really works, by all means, use it. Just don’t be super rigid – some flexibility is always good. Again, take into account that every class is different. So, customize your games and activities to suit each class’ characteristics!  

5. No Plan B 

You’ve planned an awesome lesson. Today, your students will watch a short video for their listening comprehension exercise. But, when you turn on the computer, you discover that the wifi is having problems, and you can’t play the video you intended to play. Now what? Do you just let your students play games and talk amongst themselves for the entirety of the class?

That’s why having a plan B is important! 

You never know when a problem might occur, so it’s better to always be prepared! Have several games, exercise, and practice options that your students can do to achieve the learning objectives. 

6. Not allocating time for reflection 

After everything is said and done, there’s still one more thing left to do! 

That’s right! You gotta reflect and reevaluate! 

You can do this weekly, monthly, or whatever works for you! 

Ask yourself, what went well? What could be improved?

You should also ask for your students’ feedback! What did they like about the lesson?

Were you clear in explaining the materials? Were the exercises relevant? What about 

the lesson’s pace? 

Feedback from your students is immensely valuable! It gives you a great starting point to improve your lesson plan and delivery for the next term! 

So, never forget to dedicate time for reflection! 


In this article, we’ve discussed 6 lesson planning mistakes that you should avoid if you want your class to go off without a hitch. It might sound overwhelming, but trust me, you’ll get the hang of it soon enough! Remember that every day is a chance to learn something new, and that as teachers, we must always get better in order to give our students the best learning experience. So, cheers to continuous development and best of luck in your teaching endeavors! 

Do you want to develop yourself as an educator?

At IELC, we give you the opportunity to join a great team, develop yourself, and make a difference to Indonesia’s future by teaching English the right way to the next generation of English learners. 

You will also get access to continuous training and professional development and get to meet fantastic, like-minded colleagues and team members. 

Take the first step to enjoy a supportive and fun working environment, develop yourself, and get a rewarding job with IELC.


Anthony McCormick 

IELC Managing Director