Lesson Plans

For all lessons, you should make a lesson plan. That is, make a detailed description of what you plan to do in class.

What to include

  • Describe each activity and how long it should take.
  • Include a backup game or activity, because sometimes you'll need it.
  • Give your lesson plans a title so that you can reference them easily in the future.
  • Succinctly identify the goal you are trying to achieve in the lesson.
  • Note the estimated time for each component. Include flex time so you can tackle teachable moments when they crop up.

The lesson in two sections

  1. The first section is a warm-up that allows students to adjust to the subject matter at hand by covering comfortable material. If your students already comprehend the basic principle behind the material, it will be comfortable even if they have yet to master the finer points. See Warm-ups.
  2. The second section challenges students outside of their comfort zone. Include some element of newness and unfamiliarity. Lead your students towards comprehension of new principles. See Teaching new material.

Generally speaking, students can concentrate for no longer than their age in minutes. So if you're teaching 7 year olds, make sure your activities change at least every 7 minutes.

Teaching New Material

There are several things to consider when teaching new material.

  • Listening first. Students can hear words before they can say them, so start off with listening activities and progress to listening and speaking activities.
  • Not too much. Elementary school students can learn maybe 10 vocabulary words and 2 simple sentences in a 45-minute lesson. Students remember the words they use a lot, so focus on using the vocabulary you teach.
  • Use gestures. Students remember words better when they associate the words with gestures.
  • Use pictures and text. If you're making flash cards, put pictures and text on them. It's great if you personalize your flash cards, too. Students remember the pictures, and even in elementary school students can often recognize the first letter of a word.
  • Show examples. For your grammar point or question, show an example. Then ask what the example meant in Japanese. Then show it again.
  • Build on previous material. On their own, long sentences are too difficult. If you want to teach "How's the weather in London?", first teach and practice "How's the weather?".

Teaching philosophy

It is important to note that successful Activity-Based Lesson Planning requires three levels of consideration:

1. The first level of consideration is called Managing the Classroom Environment. This involves choosing which activities are conducive to each other (after all, some activities simply cannot be successfully combined in a single lesson).

2. The second level of consideration is called Balancing the Course of Study. This involves monitoring the needs of your individual classes - which of the areas listed above in parentheses do your students need the most work on... this is different for every class. In any given period of time, it is important to attempt to develop all skills in the Course of Study equally.

3. The third level of consideration is called Targeting High School Entrance Requirements. This requires a keen awareness of exactly which are the Grammar Points Required For High School Entrance and what is the vocabulary required for high school entrance.

Time Frames for the Three Levels of Consideration

1. Managing the Classroom Environment takes place on a daily level.

2. Balancing the Course of Study takes place on a weekly/monthly level.

3. Targeting High School Entrance Requirements takes place on a yearly level.

Team Lesson Planning Tips

Here are a few tips to help you get involved with the lesson planning process.

  • Set a time at the beginning of each week to sit down and talk about the class.
  • Set a start time and an end time for the meeting so that neither the JTE or ALT feels nervous about taking up too much of the other's time.
  • Get to know each other well enough to understand each other's preferred lesson structure.
  • Make a flow plan customized to the lesson structure that the two of you use in your classes.
  • Agree on how many activities the ALT will plan for each week.
  • Use the homegrown resources below to aid your activity planning process.


  • In team-teaching lesson plans, identify the roles each teacher will perform.
  • For a 45-minute elementary school lesson, you can reasonably expect students to learn about twelve new words and two new phrases. For older students you can teach more, but don't have too many new things in a lesson, because students need to practice something many times to remember it.

See also