How to plan a lesson on any topic.

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lesson starters intermediate

What do you do when you have no idea what to do with your students? Have you ever been in a situation like this? It happened to us many times. Especially with students who we’d taught for many years.

Here’s a simple “recipe” for a lesson that will save you anytime you don’t know what do to.


Choose a topic you want to cover. If the topic is too general, do a short brainstorming exercise. Take a piece of paper and write down anything you associate with this topic. Write anything that comes to your mind. When you’ve finished, look at what you wrote and choose something you might want to cover in your lesson.

Grammar or vocabulary

Think about what you could cover with this topic.

Is it a good topic to introduce new vocabulary?

With some topics you can cover a lot of new vocabulary. For example, in a lesson about Cars you could cover types of cars and car parts, accidents, road rules, etc.

Is it a good topic for grammar revision?

If you chose a topic that is more abstract and doesn’t involve a lot of vocabulary work, use it for grammar practice. For example, the topic Danger might not have enough vocabulary to cover, but it might be great to do some work on Conditionals.

Lesson Starters Upper

Lesson base

Now, choose your base. Do you want to include authentic material?

  • search your chosen topic on YouTube or Vimeo
  • check out the duration of each video
  • dismiss the longer ones (you don’t want to be making a worksheet for a 15-minute video!),
  • look at those who have a lot of potential for vocabulary or grammar work
  • select the one that suits your students’ level

And remember not to spend too much time looking for a video, you will never find a perfect one! Check out this article for tips on how to choose a good video.


Now that you have your material, it’s time to make some worksheets. If you’re working on vocabulary, make a list of useful words and phrases from the video. And prepare some exercises. You could do a simple matching or a gap-fill exercise. Don’t forget to include some comprehension activities as well. A few questions would be enough.


What can you do for a communication or speaking activity? If you’re out of ideas, it can be very simple:

  • role play on the topic of the video or a grammar point you’re covering
  • discussion questions on the topic of the video


Don’t forget about the warmer. You can connect the warmer with the lesson topic, but you don’t have to!

Some ideas for quick warmers:

  • “would you rather” questions
  • making a mind map with vocabulary on the topic
  • a controversy – on the board write a controversial statement about the topic and invite the students to give their opinions


Forget about preparing detailed worksheets or extra materials for homework. Open-ended tasks work best.

You can ask the students to:

  • make sentences with new vocabulary or grammar structure
  • write a short message or an essay on the topic you’re covering

That might seem like a lot. But you don’t always have to go through all the steps! If your group is talkative, you probably won’t even need any worksheets!

Check out Lesson Starters for ideas for topics and activities.

Lesson Starters