Teaching an English class requires more than simple knowledge of the English language. Not only do you need to review the material that you're going to present to make sure that you're prepared for any student questions, you also must prepare activities to engage your students and assess their learning.
Review the standards for your district. The English class that you're teaching must meet those standards. If you are offering the class independently rather than as part of a school, check the standards of schools in your area to see what skills the students you're teaching should know. If you're teaching an ESL class for adults, prepare an assessment to gauge what they already know, and then choose the most important skills they need to learn.
Phrase one of the standards as a teachable, measurable objective that the students should attain by the end of the lesson, beginning with, "Students will be able to . . .". If the standard is "differentiate between simple, complex and compound sentences," your first objective might be, "Students will be able to identify simple sentences."
Review the material that you're going to teach. You need to be intimately familiar with the information in case the students ask you questions. If you are teaching a formal lesson in a school, your lesson will probably be part of a larger unit. A unit is a group of lessons on a related subject, such as an adverb unit consisting of individual lessons about adverbs of place, adverbs of time, adverbs of negation and adverbs of manner. If your lesson is part of a larger unit, look over the entire unit before teaching the first lesson so that you have more context for student questions.
Plan an activity for the beginning of class to capture the students' interest and prepare them for the lesson. This might be a discussion question pertaining to the lesson or an activity where they fix grammatically incorrect sentences using a concept they will learn.
Prepare the actual content of the lesson. Decide if you will present the material to the students through lecture, textbook reading or activities. An ideal lesson will include active instruction from you followed by an opportunity for the students to practice what they have learned. Include work for the students to complete independently so you can assess their understanding, such as a worksheet or a series of questions from a textbook.
Present the lesson to the students. Be flexible. If the students are having trouble with the material, you may not cover everything you had hoped for, and if they master it quickly you may have to include some information from tomorrow's lesson. If you are teaching children instead of adults, be careful of off-topic questions, which can derail the entire class. If a child has so many questions that it detracts from the other students' learning, ask her to talk to you after class.
Review the students' classwork to decide if they're ready to move on to the next lesson or if they need more reinforcement.
A resident of the Baltimore area, Rachel Kolar has been writing since 2001. Her educational research was featured at the Maryland State Department of Education Professional Schools Development Conference in 2008. Kolar holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Kenyon College and a Master of Arts in teaching from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland.