If you're set to go teach English with International Language Programs and need some lesson plan help, this is the post you're looking for.
Hooray for your upcoming ILP semester! ILP volunteers spend a semester teaching English to kids who are a wide range of ages. We have programs all over the world where kids as young as 3 or so and as old as around 15 or 16 or so sit in for English lessons taught by a native speaker ... that's you! We also have a program where you're not teaching, but helping with the Orphanage Program in Romania. But since you're looking up lesson ideas, I'm guessing you have questions about teaching.
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Before you leave for your semester, you'll learn all about the ILP Method but planning lessons are going to be up to you! And if you'll be teaching the younger Kindergarten ages, that means coming up with ideas for a handful of categories like Kitchen, Games, Shop, etc ... but don't worry. We have so many resources to help you find and plan your ILP lessons.
ILP Lesson Ideas (From Our Blog)
You'll get a bit more familiar about this once you attend training before departure, but essentially, lessons for the little kids are broken up into 6 different teaching areas: Drama, Shop, Arts & Crafts, Gym, Games, and Kitchen. The lessons here are more about getting the kids to talk while having fun and learning the language as they go along.
So many different ideas, crafts, and concepts can be made into an ILP lesson, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
Pull out all of your favorite fairytales and pretend adventures, because the kids loving dressing up and acting things out. From going to a restaurant and ordering from a menu, to the classic story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Drama may seem like a difficult category to brainstorm, but you really have unlimited options.
Get a handful of Drama lessons here.
This was a subject that I initially didn't love (I was a big fan of Arts and Crafts) but my kiddos could not get enough of Shop ... which definitely made this one of my favorite teaching areas by the end of the semester. For me, figuring out the balance between a surprising element (like a science-based concept, such as floating vs. sinking) or just something pretty unexpectedly fun (like making a grape-smashing machine) was the key to a successful Shop lesson.
Arts & Crafts
My personal favorite teaching area, you really have unlimited ideas thanks to everything you can find on Pinterest. One of my favorite parts about this particular teaching area was the creativity of my kiddos — you'll find students who will take your concept of making an ice cream cone out of pom-poms and paper and turn into something really their own. One of my students seemed to care less about following rules and instructions in the other subjects, but when it came to Arts and Crafts, he always followed my instructions exactly to make sure his project turned out perfect.
Get a head start on lesson planning with these lesson ideas for Arts & Crafts.
You can bet that these little kids love running around during a Gym lesson. The thing to focus on are easy to follow games, with opportunities for you to talk about the rules (that's where the language comes in).
Lots of games or kid-versions of sports can be made into a pretty active gym lesson, but here are some lesson ideas for Gym to get you started.
There are so many ideas for this teaching category! Everything from paper airplane races to card games, plus those classic "minute to win it" activities are all options you can use for your ILP lessons. Once you know how to tweak the format to make sure it fits with the ILP method, you'll be set.
Find a few lesson ideas for Games right here.
If I had to pick what teaching area was the student favorite, it would be Kitchen, hands down. When I was teaching with ILP, my class would walk in, and hopefully ask "kitchen today, teacher?" and if I nodded my head yes, they would absolutely lose it — these kids love any type of treat or snack. One thing to keep in mind is that Kitchen isn't about providing a whole meal for the class, it's all focused on drawing out the language with materials you'd find in the kitchen. A little snack or treat is all you need to pull out that language (but it doesn't hurt that the class gets to taste something yummy at the end).
We have some Kitchen lessons for you if you'd like ideas.
Other Ways To Get Ideas
These above blog posts are just a handful of ideas for each Teaching Area to get you started. You may notice that the blog post doesn't have Gym activities for the entire semester, just a few to paint the picture of how it all works. No worries though — there are so many resources to help you plan lessons for the entire semester.
When you're accepted as an ILP volunteer, you'll get access to the volunteer side of our website. This side of the website is crammed full of information about the country you're headed to, details about your group, plus even more lesson plan ideas.
To find these packets of lessons for each area, go to my.ilp.org and log in. You'll need to create a username and password (and only will be able to access this portion of the website if you're already accepted to volunteer with ILP). But once you're in, it's easy to find. At the top, hover over "Teaching & Training" and then click on "Teaching Resources" from that little drop down menu. If you're teaching Primary (or the young kids), scroll to the bottom and you'll see "Lesson Ideas". Below that header, we have six sets of PDF books full of ideas for you. Check it out when you're needing some inspiration — you'll find about a 100 ideas for the six ILP teaching areas in those packets.
You can find a pretty unlimited number of lesson plan ideas and concepts on Pinterest. This was my main tool for finding lesson ideas when I was teaching English in Asia and in Europe with ILP. I typically searched phrases like "snack ideas for kids" to get Kitchen lesson ideas, "easy arts and crafts for kids" or "activities for kids". You get the idea.
You'll find lots of ideas that sound fun but don't completely fit what a typical ILP lesson entails, but you can adapt most to fit what each lesson needs. (You'll learn all about what you need for an ILP lesson after training and during your semester as your Head Teacher continues to train you).
If you don't have a Pinterest account, make one real quick. It will be a life saver for all things lesson-planning.
There's a Facebook group for the part of the world you're headed to that you can ask to join (talk to your ILP representative about how to do that if you're not sure). A handful of times, past volunteers have asked for lesson ideas for gym, or creative arts and crafts ideas and alumni have answered. You can sometimes find some pretty creative answers on these Facebook pages.
A Couple Of Lesson Planning Tips
When I went on my first ILP semester, I was pretty overwhelmed at needing to plan lessons and adjust to life abroad, but it does get easier — seriously easier. By the end of the semester I was spending a fraction of the time lesson planning than I was at the beginning. To help you make that adjustment faster, I've pulled together a few things I wish I knew before diving right into lesson planning.
Lesson Plan In Groups
You will have an ILP group with you and your fellow volunteers are all going to be planning lessons, so don't forget to use each other. Follow each other on Pinterest, look over each other's lessons plans to get ideas, and talk through something you found on Pinterest to get help adapting it to fit an ILP lesson. When I went on my second ILP semester in Europe, I sat in on a few group-lesson planning sessions and they went so much faster than those who planned alone. One teacher would talk through a butterfly craft, which inspired a butterfly-catching Drama lesson, which turned into a really creative caterpillar Kitchen activity.
If you plan in groups, you will be able to bounce ideas off of each other and plan faster.
Plan Bit By Bit
When you arrive in-country, you'll get your teaching schedule and then can figure out how many activities you'll be teaching each day. Then, you know how many to plan each week. My advice? Don't plan all of your lessons for a week or two weeks at once. It'll take ages and can feel really overwhelming. When I was teaching English abroad with ILP, I would come home from teaching and have an hour or so where I would plan a few activities to use later. If you do that each day, you'll have next week's lessons planned without using time on the weekends.
Adapt To What You Have
On my second ILP semester, I went back as a Head Teacher which meant I wasn't teaching, but facilitating all the teaching for my group of volunteers. One thing we talked about a lot was adapting the ideas to fit what you could find at the school and in the country. For example, lots of Kitchen ideas on Pinterest used blueberries which were really really expensive in the wintertime ... or may be imported from a country thousands of miles away and are very very expensive all the time!
Instead, we used raisins, or chocolate chips which worked just fine. Don't get hung up on matching the materials exactly and lesson planning and teaching will go much smoother.
No matter where you are teaching, you won't be able to find the exact materials that are probably portrayed online but you can pretty much always figure out a way around it if you're creative.
Wondering if a semester teaching kids abroad is right for you?