Teaching languages can be the most fun and rewarding experience; however a lot of ESL teachers get really frustrated with having to write lesson plans over and over again. Here is the typical complaint of an ESL teacher: ‘I love my job, and working with students is great, but I just hate to write those plans’. Every professional teacher knows that without a proper plan, your class can turn into a mess. A good, thoroughly-thought plan is your security blanket. Without it, you simply feel stripped down in front of the class whose eyes are all pointed at you, as if waiting for the miracle to happen. And you just have no moral right to ruin their expectations.
Like most other ESL teachers, I have been combating with my distaste towards writing lesson plans for many years. There were the times when I was about to quit my teaching career just because I could no longer stand having to write a plan over and over again. I tried my best to bring a little creativity into the process of plan writing. I ventured type-writing as opposed to handwriting. I tried writing outdoors as opposed to writing indoors. I tried listing to music while writing a plan, but none of those methods seemed to help so I came to conclude that plan writing was simply not my cup of tea. But how can you teach a class without a plan? How are you going to know what comes after what, and what kind of activities you are going to use with your students?
For a while I practiced the ‘spontaneous lesson’ approach, as I call it. I simply came to class unarmed, with no written plan, only a few thoughts in head. To my surprise, some of those spontaneous lessons actually worked. The class went smoothly. I was simply talking to my students in English about the things that seemed to interest them. I started with asking them: ‘What would you like to talk about?’ The students liked being given the choice, and the manner in which they preferred the class to proceed. It was something like ‘If you want talk, we can talk, if you want to read, I’ve got some articles that might interest you. I think what my students liked most about those lessons was that there was no textbook with boring exercises, and they were given total freedom to decide what they wanted to do.
However, I soon discovered that my spontaneous classes lacked systematization. Randomly chosen topics gave my students random knowledge. While their talking skills were certainly on the rise, their reading and writing skills suffered. Within half a year of such pseudo professional teaching the class discipline had gotten from a little relaxed and chilled out to absolutely unpredictable and even chaotic, so I decided to put an end to this experiment and decided to look for other ways to prepare for class without having to write a plan.