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ESL Beginners Lessons for Your Entire Year!

Well hello there! I want to start out and say... I'm inspired by you. Yes, you! You are researching the best ways to teach your students, and your students, principal, and profession are so lucky to have you. Your drive to impact lives is why I am publishing these ESL beginners lesson plans in the first place. I believe teaching ESL is something special and such a rewarding career. I wrote this ESL newcomer curriculum for middle and high school students because I have a deep desire to accelerate students through their studies of the English language.

These lessons for ESL beginners will grow your students’ confidence and help them master many of the more challenging topics we as ESL teachers must teach. They are loaded with ESL beginners worksheets and other activities to keep students engaged and on track. These ESL lessons for beginners have been years in the making; all 11 units are now published and ready to go for the 2023-2024 school year. This curriculum can be used on-site, in a hybrid model, or totally online, and the digital resources can be shared on Google Classroom.

Background & Philosophy of the Curriculum: When I switched from teaching Social Studies to ESL, I really floundered my first semester. I have a minor in Japanese and studied in Japan, so I remember learning a second language. The Japanese curriculum I was taught was organized and comprehensive. I was frustrated with the newcomer curriculum at my school. It seemed to bounce all over and had very few practice activities. I searched online and kept opening the district-approved textbook, but I was completely uninspired and confused. I wanted to create something similar to my Japanese curriculum. This would mean these ESL beginners lessons would introduce new vocabulary words of all parts of speech at the start of units and students would work on new grammar concepts with that vocabulary. The ESL beginners worksheets provided in each unit would walk students step by step. This is what I have done in these ESL for beginners lesson plans. I am in my seventh year of using them, and I just keep adding to them as I go.

One thing I believe is that our brains are amazing, but they can only learn so much at a time. For instance, I remember being able to learn Japanese grammar because I was using familiar vocabulary words. When I was highly engaged in learning a new grammar concept, very little mental energy was given to translating words. Remembering this has formed my general philosophy for these ESOL beginners lessons.

These lessons for ESL beginners will take you over a school year to teach.

1. SCHOOL - Units 1-3 Bundle. These units include basic school supplies, restroom, cafeteria, people, and places vocabulary along with many new grammar concepts. Here is each individual unit on Teachers Pay Teachers: Unit 1 Introduction to School; Unit 2 Restroom & Cafeteria; Unit 3 School People & Places

2. YOUR DAY & YEAR - Units 4-5 Bundle. These units include days, time, weather, months, seasons, and colors. Here are the individual units: Unit 4 Days, Time & Weather; Unit 5 Months, Seasons, & Colors.

3. YOUR FAMILY & HOME - Units 6-7 Bundle. They include family words, adjectives to describe people, and home words. Here are the individual units: Unit 6 Family; Unit 7 Home

4. YOUR BODY & CLOTHING - Units 8-9 Bundle. They include face, body, illnesses, injuries, and clothing. Here are the individual units: Unit 8 Body; Unit 9 Clothing

5. FOOD & DIRECTIONS are the final units.

About the Curriculum: Each unit starts with new vocabulary that is practiced every day. The grammar concepts I have chosen make sense to teach with that vocabulary and the ESL beginners worksheets assist in this process. By the end of the unit, students have had the opportunity to master both vocabulary and grammar. The only exception to this is Unit 1: Introduction to School. Students only have a vocabulary test for this unit. Read more about Unit 1 here. Each year has provided me with more experiences and feedback, and I just continue adding and pruning these ESL for beginners lesson plans as I go. The grammar concepts I teach in each unit and the vocabulary words I have chosen have changed throughout the years as I try to find natural fits for everything. Although I know these ESL beginners lessons will keep changing a bit, I have come to a point where I feel it’s become quite established.

LIST OF SKILLS Taught in Addition to Vocabulary Words in Each Unit

Plural and singular nouns (Units 1, 2)

Pronouns (Units 1, 3)

Simple present tense (Units 1, 2, 3, 4, 7)

Numbers (Unit 2)

Positive and Negative sentences with be-verbs (She is ___. She is not __.) (Unit 2, 3, 4)

Contractions (isn’t & aren’t) (Unit 3, 4)

Questions using be-verbs (Unit 3, 4)

Questions and Answers using Do & Does (Unit 3, 4)

Contractions (don’t & doesn’t) (Unit 3, 4)

Have & Has (Unit 3, 4, 8)

Present Progressive Tense (Unit 4, 5, 6)

Subject Pronouns + Be-Verbs Contractions (Unit 4, 6)

Reading an analog clock (Unit 4)

Prepositions: at, on, and in (Unit 4, 5)

Ordinal numbers (Unit 5)

How to write the date (Unit 5)

“When” questions (Unit 5, 6)

Simple Future Tense (Unit 5, 6, 9)

Helping Verbs - Can, May, Must, Should (Unit 6, 9)

Adjectives Before Nouns (Unit 6, 7, 8)

Comparatives & Superlatives (~er, ~est, more, most) (Unit 6, 7)

Demonstrative Adjectives - This, That, These, Those (Unit 7, 9)

Object Pronouns (Unit 7)

Prepositions: behind, between, next to, under, in, in front of, through, on (Unit 7, 8)

Phrasal Verbs (Unit 7)

Negative Simple Present Tense (Unit 7)

Past Tense Verbs (Unit 7)

Possessive Adjectives (Unit 8)

Articles (Unit 8, 10)

Plural Noun Spelling & Pronunciation Rules (Unit 8)

Irregular Adjectives (good/bad) (Unit 8)

Past Progressive Tense (Unit 8)

Needs to, wants to, has to (Unit 9)

Possessive Nouns (Unit 9)

Future Tense - is/am/are + going to (Unit 9)

Possessive Pronouns (Unit 9)

Adverbs of Frequency (Unit 9)

Coordinating Adjectives (Unit 9, 10)

Countable & Uncountable Nouns (Unit 10)

Counting Money (Unit 10)

Quantifiers (Unit 10)

Cumulative Adjectives (Unit 10)

Possessive Plural Nouns (Unit 11)

Present Perfect Progressive Tense (Unit 11)

Adverbs That Show Sequence (Unit 11)

Compound Sentences: FANBOYS (Unit 11)

I decided to publish these ESL beginners lessons for two main reasons:

1. They’re effective!

  • I have newcomers for two years before they “graduate” to high school English 1 or 2, and they are successful there. I have students now who did not know a word of English entering high school in four year, two year, and technical colleges as well as starting careers. Seeing these kiddos succeed is the reason we do what we do.

  • I also know these ESL beginners lessons are effective because it gets kids working. Kids discover they CAN DO THIS. They discover they can learn a second language no matter what their previous educational experiences are. Because of this, I really do not struggle with behavior issues. I can’t guarantee this for you, but active ESL beginners lessons increase the likelihood of student success.

2. I can’t be the only teacher who struggled or is struggling with how to teach Newcomers.

  • It can be awkward getting newcomers to participate, but having a rich curriculum that builds upon itself and keeps challenging students as they move forward helps. My first unit feels very difficult. Right from the start I am introducing grammar alongside their vocabulary. Although it’s challenging, these ESL beginners lessons begin laying the foundation of the English language. Around Unit 4 or 5, students reach what I call the “sponge” stage; they are my “little sponges.” It feels like they just absorb the new content and you will really start seeing the snowball effect. Teaching it becomes much easier because students have realized that they can do it. It’s clicking; they’re learning it. They’re using it in other classes and around town. Less effort is needed because their brains have begun making some serious connections. The whole process becomes smoother.

I would be honored if you decide to use my ESL beginners lessons. I will keep improving these lessons for ESL beginners as I teach it from year to year, and I look forward to your comments and suggestions. Thank you for going on this journey with me.


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