9 Best Language Learning Lesson Plan Resources to Run Smooth and Effective Foreign Language Classes
If you know where to look, the web is like one huge teacher meeting these days, where thousands of the world’s foreign language teachers have united to brainstorm, collaborate and share.
To see this online teacher meeting in action, look no further than Lesson Planet, the lesson plan website made by teachers for fellow teachers, where thousands of lesson plans are available to download and utilize—and where hundreds of thousands of reviews by professional educators will guide you to what’s good.
In this post, I’m gonna give you nine great websites where you can find foreign language lesson plans and lesson plan templates that you can personalize for your language learning class.
- The Best Resources for Foreign Language Lesson Plans and Templates
- The 4 Ps of Effective Foreign Language Lesson Plans
The Best Resources for Foreign Language Lesson Plans and Templates
Pimsleur is one of the most trusted and widely-used language programs in the world. On their website, they have a dedicated section that contains full-blown lesson plans that are yours for the printing. They are in PDF format and come with complete details for the language teacher, including “Learning Outcomes,” “Activities” and “Assessment” sections. The lesson plans even have corresponding worksheets and quizzes with answer keys.
If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, I don’t know what will.
So if you’re looking for lesson plans for your Spanish, Italian, French, German, Portuguese or Polish class, head on over to Pimsleur and get a leg up from one of the most successful language programs to date.
FluentU is an immersive website and app where you can find authentic foreign language videos adapted for learning online.
The online program offers videos with interactive subtitles and downloadable transcripts that can easily be integrated into your class as lessons with riveting openers/hooks and killer activities. There are also tools to assess learning, such as SRS flashcards and adaptive quizzes.
Additionally, you can incorporate FluentU into homework assignments. Through their own accounts, students can watch assigned clips through the website or app and hover over the interactive subtitles to learn definitions, listen to audio pronunciation and see associated images. In the meantime, you can keep track of their progress through the videos watched and quizzes taken.
And with a continuously growing selection of videos, you won’t have any trouble finding appropriate material to build a lesson plan around. Clips range from absolute beginner to advanced, covering a diversity of topics to appeal to a wide range of age levels and interests.
K-12 educators teaching any level of more widely-taught world languages (like French or Spanish) can find a huge range of lesson plans here that have not only been reviewed by actual teachers, but also sorted into helpful categories, including ones for grades and educational standards. You can even take a look at what criteria go into reviewing and approving the materials on their site.
In addition to lesson plans, you can find other useful content like worksheets and videos. A subscription gives you storage space where you can save and keep track of all the material you’re using.
Content not only teaches grammar and vocabulary, but a lot of it tends towards the cultural and creative as well. Want to simulate a trip to an art gallery with your Spanish students? Have your French students practice spoken and written language by reading Baudelaire? Lesson Planet offers these lesson plans and many, many more. Spanish and French seem to be best represented here, but you’ll also find lesson plans and resources that can be used more generally for foreign language teaching, as well as more limited resources for other languages.
Share My Lesson
The tagline says it all: “by teachers, for teachers.” Oh, and did I mention that it’s free? This site contains lesson plans and an assortment of materials in various formats (audio, video, PDF, PowerPoint, Word, etc.) that you can use as hooks, activities and fun ways to assess learning.
What is even more special about this site is that it gives teachers help not just with language lessons (especially Spanish, German and French), but offers a ready armory of cultural and historically-nuanced lessons that you can readily integrate with language points.
You can start searching for activities by going to the home page and typing into the search box found on the upper right-hand corner of the screen the language that you’re interested in. So for example, if you’re interested in Spanish lessons, type “Spanish”/”Spanish language” in the search box.
Or you can search by grade level by clicking on “Teaching Resources” at the top of the home page. You can then choose among the grade levels available (up to Grade 12). In the list of subjects, choose “Foreign Languages” to see what lessons are available.
Teachers Pay Teachers
You’re one of the millions of educators worldwide. Why don’t we all share insights and inspiration with one another? This is what TPT is all about. The dream of the founders is to “make the expertise and wisdom of all the teachers in the world available to anyone, anywhere, at any time.” It’s a pretty lofty goal, but I’d say they’re on the path to doing exactly that.
You can buy and sell lesson plans here. But make no mistake, the site is brimming with free resources for everyone—language teachers especially. Just look for “World Language” in the “Subject” section found at the left-hand side of the home page. You will then be shown 14 major languages to choose from. Click on your language of choice. When the lessons come up, go to the left-hand side again to the “Price” section. This time, choose “Free.”
Try out this template to start.
Bright Hub Education
Bright Hub Education brands itself as a purveyor of “expert-driven educational guidance you can count on.” Here, you’ll find lesson plans and ideas for kindergarten through high school students.
You’ll find this site valuable if you teach Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, German or French. The lesson plans here follow a certain format and are more text-based, basically telling you how to go about the lesson and providing plenty of examples you can use in class. (The materials and visual aids are left to your own creativity and discretion.)
Teach It Languages
If your class belongs to the 11-18 age bracket, you might find a welcoming home at Teach It Languages. This site is valuable for KS3-5 (middle school and high school) teachers of French, Spanish and German.
A great majority of the materials here are free. There are resources for absolute beginners (e.g., counting and greetings) as well as advanced learners (e.g., idiomatic expressions).
With a subscription, you not only get access to hundreds of activities that have been tried and tested by native speakers and language teachers, you get the chance to adapt and edit the lessons to your liking.
This is a growing collection of lesson plans, so be a frequent visitor, or better yet, subscribe so you can have first dibs on the latest lesson plans.
If yours is a class with language lab capabilities, the site even has interactive resources that can give your students hours of fun activities—like sequencing games, matching games and even Hangman.
Creative Language Class
This site features teacher-submitted lesson plan templates, such as this template from Kara Parker, a teacher who was once told to review her lesson plan as a way to solve classroom management issues. (Really?)
By reviewing her old plans, she was able to see weaknesses and discovered why her students were less than enthusiastic about the class. She updated her lesson plan and came up with this—a template that’s not only quick and painless but also reminds her to come up with different activities that target different language skills (listening, reading, writing, speaking).
This teacher’s experience is a reminder of how important a lesson plan is and how it affects what happens in the classroom. Wanna change your teaching experience? Check what’s written in your plans.
American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages
This next resource has loads of stuff to help busy teachers. Their special-purpose lesson plan templates are unique because they’re specifically made to forward some sort of learning agenda. The American Council On the Teaching Of Foreign Languages have their own very useful lesson plan template for the teaching of language. It’s very similar to the first one save for the fact that it induces you, the teacher, to think about how a particular lesson correlates to its 5C paradigm:
- Communication: How will the lesson improve the students’ ability to communicate in the target language?
- Culture: What cultural insights, if any, will the lesson have?
- Connections: How will the lesson help the students expand and deepen other areas of knowledge?
- Comparisons (and Contrasts): How will the lesson help them to better understand their own first language?
- Communities: How will the lesson help the students beyond the classroom setting?
You’ll notice that the five Cs go well with ACTFL’s vision of educating students who are “linguistically and culturally prepared to function as world citizens.” This is the council’s marching orders and it’s amply reflected in the template that they put forward. (All recommended resources, books, sample units, sample lessons and lesson plan templates can be found here.)
The 4 Ps of Effective Foreign Language Lesson Plans
Effective lesson plans include an interesting hook, an arresting way of getting students to listen up and pay attention. The “prompt” part of the lesson plan aims to make students realize that what’s coming next is important. It may not be the “meat” of the lesson, but it’s the “meet” of it.
The “prompt” is very important because it does the job of teasing and intriguing, wining the hearts and minds of your students for the main lesson. Without it, students’ focus will remain on whatever cares they have for the day: the news that morning, the mysterious Facebook status update of a friend, deadlines at work and meditating on the hidden virtues of an Apple watch.
As teachers, we know that we’re not only competing with actual classroom noise, we’re especially competing with mental noise–the cares and concerns that are vying for attention in students’ heads. What do we have to do to not be lost in that sea?
“Prompt” activities can include an exciting game, an engaging story, an invited native speaker, a demonstration of some sort, a trip outside class or an authentic video including real language usage such as a video from FluentU.
Anything that primes students for the lesson will work, limited only by the imagination.
This part is the very reason students are sitting in your class—for your presentation of the lesson. They wanna learn something, they wanna be taught something, but usually in the most painless and intuitive way possible. One can say that the reason the lesson plan exists in the first place is so you can execute this part really well.
You’re on deck here. It’s your show. This is the “teach” part of “teacher” exhibited in full colors. This is where you give yourself, your knowledge and your experience to your students. This is partly where the great teachers are separated from the pretty good ones.
To do “proclaim” effectively, you need to have a guide, whether its made by you or someone else. Effective lesson plans tell the teacher exactly what they need to do, the input they need to give, when they need to give input and in what order all the lesson materials should be presented. It also spells out the activities, materials and peripheral devices, digital and otherwise, that they might use in order to stimulate learning.
However, lesson plans should also be balanced, leaving room for classroom contingencies. A plan can’t be so inflexible that it doesn’t allow for spontaneity and creativity. A teacher shouldn’t create a lesson plan willy-nilly, but they should also not consider it unbreakable.
If, for example, in the course of presenting Spanish gendered nouns, a student asks if Spanish is the only language that does gendered nouns. You haven’t included talking about Romance languages in the lesson plan. No matter—take the cue and give your class the bigger picture by briefly explaining how French, German and Italian also have gendered nouns, even adding that English is actually quite unique in this respect.
A comment, a thought or a question can come up that could take the whole thing into a productive detour. Take that detour in spite of it not being written in the lesson plan. The plan is there simply as a guide. Your priority is to teach students, not perfectly follow the plan.
Effective lesson plans must include sufficient time for students to do their thing and actively participate in the learning process. It must leave room for practice to take place.
If the previous section is you doing your part, this is them, your students, honing what they’ve learned. This is about repetition, rehearsal and exercises. Practice sessions usually come immediately after the lesson.
So, if the lesson was about greetings and dialogues in Italian, you could send the student in pairs and walk around the room to give personal coaching to the pairs. If the lesson is about basic sentence construction, you could ask students to come to the board and write some basic sentences in the target language. Or if vocabulary is the lesson, then you can divide the class into groups and play a vocabulary game that raises their adrenaline and gives them opportunities to anchor the learning.
Finally, lesson plans must have an effective review mechanism where teachers like us can gauge whether the learning outcomes have actually been reached. This is proving time.
This is a little bit different from the previous “P” because practice often happens immediately after the lesson, on the same day. “Proving” happens after an ample time of practice and after a number of lessons.
Usually, the proof comes in the form of a written quiz or an oral presentation. We use the results of such activities as feedback to help us discover concepts and skills that need scaffolding and enlighten us on questions, such as “what specific areas do students have a hard time with?” or “what specific techniques were effective?”
It’s important to remember that teaching is an iterative process. Everything doesn’t end with the test or the final presentation. We don’t simply mark down a letter grade and move to the next lesson. The whole thing is really giving us feedback to react to. Reading the results, we have just the guide that we need to teach the lesson again.
Again, teaching is an iterative process and we work in cycles, eliminating mistakes and weaknesses each time.
As you’ll notice, the first two P’s have something to do with you, the teacher, prompting students to attention and proclaiming the lesson in the most interesting way possible. The next P’s have a lot to do with students receiving and reacting to the lesson. They need to practice and prove what they have learned.
The four P’s highlight the interaction and cooperation between teacher and student to give the maximum benefit for the student. It is incumbent on us to do our vocations well, but it is also required for the students to do their part and actively learn the lesson.
So that’s it. Use these excellent resources and find a few that suit your personal teaching style. I wish you and your students more productive sessions together while exploring the beauty of language.