How to Write Effective Lesson Plan Aims

And why they’re essential for language teaching.

David Weller


Without lesson aims you might as well give up and go home, because you suck.

Yet for an embarrassingly long time, I didn’t write any aims for my lesson plans. Sure, I learned all about them on my TEFL course. Yeah, they made sense. But I was busy, and had been told to follow the course book (“two pages of the class book every lesson in class, and one page from the student’s book for homework!”). Surely my aims had just been set for me, for every class?


For the sake of a minute to set my aims for each class, I could have become such a much better teacher, so much faster.

To avoid my cringe-worthy mistakes, and catapult yourself into realms of teaching awesomeness, grab a cup of tea and carry on reading.

What is a Lesson Aim & Why Should I Care?

An aim can be anything you want your students to achieve in your class.

Having aims will make you a better teacher, delivering better lessons, whilst your students learn whilst all of you have more fun.

I like to choose an aim for my students and a personal aim for myself (see later). This can be flexible and could depend on a number of things — your students, your syllabus, your academic manager.

Write your aims before you start your plan. This is what your learners to be better able to do by the end of the lesson. Now you know this, you can plan your lesson by working backwards — the start of the lesson should be pitched at the level where they currently are.

How to Choose Your Lesson Aims

Your ultimate guide is your students. What do they most need to know? It may not be what the course book says they should learn next (gasp!).

The coursebook and I usually agree less than fifty per cent of the time what to teach next.

However, don’t get in trouble by not teaching what your school requires, even if you think your students need it. Use your common sense, and find a balance. If there’s a real problem, then speak to your academic manager to see if there’s…



David Weller

Lessons, stories and visuals to develop your language teaching and learning. 20 years in education, 3 books, and a twice-monthly newsletter.