Lesson planning and design

Image by Peter Olexa from Pixabay

Every language teacher programme teaches students to design lessons and larger units of teaching. But what does the research actually tell us about planning for teaching? Experienced teachers do not always have much in the way of a written plan for a lesson, but ideally, their continuous monitoring of the learning going on in their language class allows them to offer just what their pupils need at any particular time.

In this module, we will be considering some aspects of language lesson preparation, from Helena Wallberg’s thoughts on Lesson design (see our interview below) to Universal design for learning and individual differentiation, to Paul Nation’s insights on changing his mind about what language teaching is.

Primarily a language teacher needs to be a planner who makes sure that the learners are
focusing on what needs to be learned, and have opportunities to learn across the four
strands (teaching makes up only a proportion of one of these strands).

Nation (2015, p. 36)


Andersson, H. (2021). Varierad undervisning i gymnasieskolan – Skolverket

Barak Rosenshein’s Principles of Instruction

CAST (nda). About Universal Design for Learning

Courey, S. J., Tappe, P., Siker, J., & LePage, P. (2013). Improved lesson planning with universal design for learning (UDL). Teacher education and special education, 36(1), 7-27.

Gibbs, K., & Beamish, W. (2021). Conversations with Australian teachers and school leaders about using differentiated instruction in a mainstream secondary school. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 46(7), 97–113.

Hersi, A. A., & Bal, I. A. (2021). Planning for differentiation: Understanding Maryland teachers’ desired and actual use of differentiated Instruction. Educational Planning, 28(1), 55–71.

Nation, P. (2015). Changing my mind about the role of the teacher in language teaching. Contact (TESL Ontario), 41(3), 36-37.

Further reading if you have access to a university library (Come and take a course with us!)

Griful-Freixenet, J., Struyven, K., Vantieghem, W., & Gheyssens, E. (2020). Exploring the interrelationship between universal design for learning (UDL) and differentiated instruction (DI): A systematic review. Educational Research Review, 29, 100306.

Nation, I. S. P. & Macalister, J. (2020). Language curriculum design. (2 ed.) Routledge.

Tomlinson, C.A. (2014). The differentiated classroom, (2nd ed.). Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

and one to consider buying if you read Swedish

Wallberg, H.(2019) Lektionsdesign. Gothia Kompetens


We had the privilege of talking to Helena Wallberg, author of the book Lektionsdesign [Lesson design]. Helena is often asked to talk to groups of teachers, and as a language teacher and special education teacher, she has a lot to say about language teaching.

Here are some suggested discussion topics to think about with your colleagues or with us and anyone who joins us for our live conversation on 19 May (see below!)

  1. What do you think are some of the major language learning challenges where teaching should be differentiated?
  2. How do you differentiate language teaching? What are your own experiences and recommendations when it comes to differentiating language teaching?
  3. Inclusive/Accessible education needs to take into account that we are all different as learners. In what ways could Universal Design for Learning be helpful when planning language lessons?

Join us on Thursday 19 May at 16:00 to 17:00 (Swedish time) for a live conversation on Zoom about planning language teaching. No need to register for the live conversations, just turn up to the usual Zoom link.

Mail circle.did@su.se if you don’t have it.

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