ESL Reading Lesson Plan Template | English Reading Lesson Plan (2023)

If you’re looking for everything ESL reading lesson plan template, then you’re in the right place. We have an easy system for you to follow, as well as sample ESL reading lessons to consider. Keep on reading!

ESL Reading Lesson Plan Template | English Reading Lesson Plan (1)

ESL reading lesson plan

Lesson planning: are you solid on how to do them, or not so much? If not, then have a quick read-through of this ESL reading lesson plan template. This reading lesson plan template also works well for listening lessons.

Reading skills are very important for our students. This lesson plan will help your students improve their reading fluency, as well as reading comprehension. Read more for all the details about ESL reading lessons. You’ll be a pro in no time at all!

Planning a Reading Lesson Plan: It’s Not Easy Without a Template

I’m always surprised when I get reader questions or talk to people preparing for their upcoming ESL job interviews that they don’t know how to make a basic lesson plan. But, it’s not so crazy I guess and I actually had no system of any sort until I took the CELTA course a few years back.

The ESL reading template that I’m going to share with you today is modelled after that and it can provide you with a solid foundation upon which to expand and adjust to suit the needs of your own classes.

(If your classes are focused on speaking, check out this ESL Speaking Lesson Plan Template).

There are five basic ESL lesson plan steps for a class focused on reading that I’ll describe below.

ESL Reading Lesson Plan Template | English Reading Lesson Plan (2)

ESL lesson plan template for reading

7 Steps for an ESL Reading Lesson Plan

There are a few distinct steps you can follow when teaching reading skills. Although the reading passage changes, the steps do not!

First of all, be clear about the objectives of your lesson. That is, what is the lesson trying to achieve and what will success for the students look like?

Step #1 for Teaching English Reading: Set the Context

Context is everything when learning a language and it’s a key component of Swiller’s Cognitive Load Theory. Without it, our students are just learning random bits of grammar and vocabulary but they don’t have a way to put it together into a cohesive system within their brains.

To start you lesson off, you’ll need to do this, 100% of the time. A great teacher never forgets this! And of course, the context for each lesson will change from day to day so don’t use the same old stale thing, okay?

ALWAYS help your students by providing as much context as possible either by activating prior knowledge (works well with reading or listening lessons). You can also give your students situations in which they can use the language (vocabulary or grammar lessons).

An easy way to do this in a reading or listening lesson is to have students talk together for a couple of minutes about something. During the CELTA course, I had this story about a man who was living in an airport. I was lucky, perhaps, in that it was something that the students were really interested in! In order to set the context, I had students talk about five things that people do when they have to wait in the airport for a long time (sleep/watch TV/eat + drink, etc.).

Step #2: Pre-Reading Task

This is where you have students do something related to the reading. You can teach/have students review some of the key vocabulary in the passage, or do something like a prediction task.

In the case I mentioned previously, I told my students that they were going to read a story about a guy who lived in an airport for 17 years. And that he only left eventually because he got sick and had to go to the hospital. The students had to guess why they think he stayed there so long.

I elicited five answers and wrote them on the board to lead into step #3, making sure that one of the answers was the correct one.

ESL Reading Lesson Plan Template | English Reading Lesson Plan (3)

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Step #3: Gist Reading Task for the Text

You should always have students read for gist. This is because it gets them out of the extremely bad habit they often have of reading every single word in excruciating detail. When people read in their first language, they never read all the words. Instead, they just skim or scan the page to look for the information they need.

You need to help your students get practice doing this in English. It’s also useful if they’re doing any sort of English examinations because they often contain quite long reading passages which students have to digest in a limited amount of time. It can really help them if you teach them how to read and only look for specific information.

For the airport example, I gave students only two minutes and they had to quickly skim through the passage to find out why the man stayed in the airport for so long. Always have students compare answers with each other and then check as a class. But, this is a gist reading task so give the correct answer but do NOT go into any sort of depth. Students will have another chance in the next task to catch all the nuances of the passage.

Step #4: Main Reading Task for the Text

This is the middle or the heart of the lesson.

This is where students take a more detailed look at the reading and can read more slowly and carefully. You can give them some short answer, True/False questions, etc. However, at this stage, I try to break students of another bad habit: always looking at their cell-phone dictionaries. I tell them that they can use it only one time, but otherwise, they can just guess and use the surrounding context to give them some clues.

Students compare answers with a partner or small group and then you can check together as a class. You can go into a bit more depth with explanations at this stage if necessary.

If you want to give your students a little quiz to test their comprehension, you may wish to do this story timeline activity.

You could also work on some pronunciation at this time if there are any problem words.

Step #5: Application

In this ESL lesson plan stage, students take the ideas and go a bit deeper with them. For the airport example, I had students work together with a partner to think of five interesting questions that they’d ask the man if they had the chance to meet him in person.

After that, I had one person pretend to be a journalist while the other one had to be the man in the airport. The journalist conducted an interview and made sure to ask a few follow-up questions as well.

I finished off the lesson by talking about what eventually happened to the man (I looked it up on the Internet).

Step #6: Homework (Optional)

You may wish to assign some homework to your students as a way to follow-up. Or, add some optional worksheets to your online tool for students to use if they’d like to.

Step #7: Post-Reading Activities

You may wish to include some post-reading activitiesin your classes. These can extend an hour-long class into a two-hour one for example. Or, you may wish to do it over two classes. Some of the things you can do with your students are to have them think more deeply about the characters or plot.

Or, you may want them to:

  • Find examples of a certain part of speech (common adverbs, or if you’re teaching articles ESL, then 10 examples of those)
  • Search for examples of a certain grammar point (simple past or subject/verb agreement)
  • Look for metaphors and similes
  • Do some worksheets
  • Watch some videos about the same topic
  • Listen to some related songs
  • Something fun (get creative!)
  • Do some kind of writing activity
  • Etc.

More ideas here: ESL Reading Activities.

Additional Resources for Teaching English Reading

You can learn more about this here: Post-Reading Activities for English Learners.

Many of these can be done without a teacher. Gift your students the ability to improve their reading skills on their own!

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Reading Lesson Plans FAQs

There are a number of important questions that people have about planning reading lessons. Here are the answers to some of the most common ones.

What is the Aim of a Reading Lesson?

The aim is what teachers hope that learners are able to achieve in a course or lesson. Activities should be planned with the aims in mind. A reading lesson aim could be to learn new vocabulary, notice some key grammar points, or to work on a reading sub-skill like scanning/reading for gist, or reading for comprehension.

ESL Reading Lesson Plan Template | English Reading Lesson Plan (8)

Reading lesson aims and goals

Can I Adapt this ESL Lesson Plan Template for my Own Purposes?

Isn’t it a good idea to make a lesson plan my own? Maybe, but maybe not.

Of course you can feel free to do whatever you want in your own classes (as long as it’s okay with the school). Some things may work for you, while others may not.

That said, if you’re just starting out, it can be valuable to stick pretty closely to the steps in this lesson plan sample. It’s a proven system that many, many teachers around the world have been using for years and is taught in the CELTA/DELTA courses. It’s backed by some solid education theory about learning languages.

Once you get a bit more experience, then consider adapting it to your own style, section by section. You know what works best for you, and your students. It’s a big world out there and no two students are the same! The best teachers can adapt.

Does this Style of Reading Class Work for Any Level of Student?

That’s another great question! This template assumes that your students have a basic level of English reading, and are able to do things like compare answers with their partner. It’s best for at least high beginners and then can work on up to advanced level students (more ideas here: Advanced ESL Lessons).

For students who are struggling with basic reading skills or vocabulary, you’ll want to focus on that first before worrying too much about comprehension.

Can I Use This ESL Lesson Plan Template for Children?

This style of lesson works better for high school students or adults than is does younger children. It assumes that students are able to do things like compare answers with a partner, or have a short discussion for a lead-in or warm-up.

Younger kids, sometimes this stuff doesn’t work that well. However, you can adapt the lesson to make it more teacher-centred and it will still work. Get the students to share their answers with you and the entire class instead of with a partner for example.

Where Can I Get News Articles for ESL?

If you want to design your own sample ESL lesson plan, then you’ll need to start with an article of some kind. It can be difficult to find good materials that are appropriate for the level of your students. This is particularly true if you teach beginners.

The good news is that there are lots of online resources out there with plenty of good stuff. Graded readings, comprehension questions, listening exercises and more awesome stuff. They’ve done the hard work of content development for you, in making the news into something your ESL students can read.

You can check out my top picks here: The Top ESL News Article Websites.

What are the ESL Reading Skills?

Here are some of the most common ESL sub-skills for reading that you might want to focus on for your students:

  • Skimming
  • Scanning
  • Reading for gist
  • Making predictions
  • Reading for detail
  • Fluency

What Topics Should I Choose for ESL Reading Lessons?

This reading lesson plan sample lends itself well to just about any topic under the sun. Seriously, the sky is the limit.

However, here are a few things to keep in mind when planning an ESL reading lesson plan.

Choose Timeless Topics

If I’m going to put the time and effort into planning an ESL reading lesson, then I want to be able to use it again in the future.

This means that I choose timeless, or evergreen topics that are of interest to a wide group of people and ages. If I do this, I’ll have plenty of opportunities to recycle the lesson in the future. Social science usually has a wealth of good stories, material and topics that lead to a great conversation.

Once you plan a few of these reading lessons, you’ll have a variety of go-to lessons you can pull together very quickly.

Use Google Drive

In order to recycle your reading lesson plans effectively, use Google Drive. You can go in there, make a few quick changes and have your “new” lesson ready to go in just a few minutes.

(Video) The Best ESL Teaching Method for Beginners That Actually Works!

Base your Lesson Plan on an Article

Of course, a reading lesson should be based on an article of some kind. This is obvious, but it’s worth noting. You can find them online, or in textbooks.

Don’t be Afraid to Adapt the Language

If you want to talk about a certain topic, but can’t find an appropriate article, don’t be afraid to take one and adapt the language. I usually do the following:

  • Shorten the article
  • Remove complicated vocabulary and terms
  • Take out complicated grammatical constructions or parts of speech

Keep the Reading Short

Unless you have a class that is 3-4 hours long, you’ll want to keep the reading reasonably short. In general, it shouldn’t take students more than 1/5 of the class time to read the article.

Sure, you can assign it for homework, but many students won’t complete it so I like to give class time for this.

What are the Seven Strategies of Reading?

In order for anyone to read more effectively, whether native English speakers or English learners, they should practice a mix of the seven following reading strategies. They include activating, monitoring or clarifying, interfering, questioning, searching or selecting, summarizing and visualizing or organizing.

Do you have any ESL Reading Lesson Plans that I Can Check Out?

If you’re looking for some examples of how this looks in real life, then you’ll want to check out these lessons plans that I’ve designed, and then used in my own classes, mostly with South Korean teenagers, university students and adults.

Check out these reading lesson plan examples right here:

6 Lesson Plans for Advanced ESL Students: These lessons usually start off with a reading, and then get into speaking, conversation, writing or listening. Some are for students in any country, while others are specific for students in South Korea.

Everything ESL Lesson Plans: Find out more about ESL reading lesson plans, along with ones for speaking, listening and writing classes.

Renewable Energy Reading Lesson Plan (For intermediate or advanced levels students): This lesson starts off with a reading passage, and then gets into some grammar, vocabulary and conversation work.

What is an Intermediate Reading Level?

English learners at the beginner level may have difficulty with pronunciation and comprehension of new vocabulary when reading. However, students at an intermediate reading level are able to infer the meaning of unrecognized vocabulary items from context and usage.

What is the Definition of Reading Comprehension?

Reading comprehension means that the reader is able to process a text to understand the meaning of it, as well as integrate this knowledge with what they already know. This requires a text at an appropriate level so that the reader isn’t using too much of their capacity to understand individual words which can interfere with the bigger picture.

H0w to Teach ESL Students to Read?

If you teach ESL beginner students and want to teach them how to read, here’s some solid advice:

More ESL Reading Lesson Plans

Do you want some reading lesson plans that you can just print off and use in your classes? You’re in luck! There are a ton of excellent resources online that’ll save you so much time when planning lessons. Here are some of the best ones to consider:

One Stop English

English is a Piece of Cake

ESL Flow

Do You Like this ESL Lesson Plan Template?

ESL Reading Lesson Plan Template | English Reading Lesson Plan (9)

You’ll probably enjoy this book as well: 39 ESL Warm-Ups for Teenagers and Adults. Get your classes started off on the right foot with these low-prep activities and games that your students will love. It can be difficult for students if you jump right into the heart of the lesson. Instead, ease them into English with a fun activity.

This book is all about making your life easier. You should be able to find a warm-up that’ll work for your level of students and topic in under a minute. If you can’t? Well, get in touch and I’ll personally refund your money.

Available in a Variety of Formats

The good news is that the book is available in both print and digital formats. ESL Reading Lesson Plan Template | English Reading Lesson Plan (10)You can keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office as a handy reference. Or, take a copy with you on your phone for lesson plans on the go at your favourite coffee shop.

Where Can I Find the Book?

Check it out for yourself over on Amazon, but only if you want to get yourself a serious dose of ESL awesome in your life, okay?

—>39 ESL Warm-Ups<—

Have your Say about Planning an ESL Reading Lesson

Do you have any tips or tricks for an ESL lesson plan template? Or, tips for ESL lesson plans in general? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you. And be sure to contact us if you have any questions about teaching English.

Please give this article a share on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. It’ll help other teachers, like yourself learn more about an ESL lesson plan template resource.

Check out the rest of this blog for lots more helpful games and activities for teaching English, as well as templates for other styles of lessons besides working on ESL reading skills.

Last update on 2022-07-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

(Video) How to make reading fun | PUPPETS | ESL activity and lesson plan for home or school


What is the aim of a reading lesson? ›

1. Reinforcing students' comprehension skills through speaking. 2. Exposing them to some vocabulary items they are responsible for in the exam such as “mediator, order, engaging and excel at” through reading text.

How do you introduce a reading lesson? ›

5 Strategies for Introducing New Read Alouds in the Classroom
  1. Look at the Book Cover or Title Illustration.
  2. Open to the Story and Read the Pictures.
  3. Discuss Possible Predictions and Make a List of Questions.
  4. Introduce New Vocabulary and Concepts.
  5. Relate Concepts to Students' Background Knowledge and Personal Experiences.

What are examples of reading activities? ›

List of Reading Activities
  • Partner Pretest. Before teaching a new decoding skill or grammar rule, preface the lesson with a pretest. ...
  • Stand Up/Sit Down. ...
  • Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down. ...
  • Secret Answer. ...
  • Response Cards. ...
  • Think-Pair-Share. ...
  • Quick Writes. ...
  • One Word Splash.
24 Sept 2021

How do you teach reading lessons ESL? ›

Steps for Teaching Reading to ESL Students
  1. Step 1: Engage the student. ...
  2. Step 2: Pre-teach new vocabulary. ...
  3. Step 3: Ask a focus question. ...
  4. Step 4: The students read. ...
  5. Step 5: Ask questions about the reading. ...
  6. Step 6: Follow up with a task. ...
  7. Step 7 (optional): Follow up with an activity.

What should a reading lesson look like? ›

1) Short direct instruction on something good readers do, usually a cognitive skill (5-10 minutes), 2) a long reading time (30 – 60 minutes) in which children read and apply the lesson to their own, self-selected books as well as a time for the teacher to confer with individual students, 3) ends with reading journal ...

What are 3 reading goals? ›

Read fluently and enjoy reading. Use a range of strategies when drawing meaning from the text. Use word identification strategies appropriately and automatically when encountering unknown words. Recognize and discuss elements of different text structures.

What are the 6 strategies of reading? ›

The “Super Six” comprehension strategies
  • Making Connections.
  • Predicting.
  • Questioning.
  • Monitoring.
  • Visualising.
  • Summarising.
13 Nov 2013

What are the 5 reading comprehension strategies? ›

There are 5 separate strategies that together form the High 5 Reading Strategy.
  • Activating background knowledge. Research has shown that better comprehension occurs when students are engaged in activities that bridge their old knowledge with the new. ...
  • Questioning. ...
  • Analyzing text structure. ...
  • Visualization. ...
  • Summarizing.

How do you start a reading comprehension lesson? ›

Introduce or review the “Important Words to Know and Understand” listed on the lesson plan. Discuss prior knowledge of the book and activate schema for the strategy using the “Link to What You Know” questions. Set a purpose for reading by explaining that you will be reading the book as strategy experts.

How can I make reading lessons more interesting? ›

6 Ways to Make Reading Fun For Your Students
  1. 6 Strategies to Put the Fun in Reading.
  2. Practice 'Wide Reading' ...
  3. Allow Them to Choose Their Books. ...
  4. Incorporate Digital Technology. ...
  5. Create a Stress-Free Environment. ...
  6. Host Reading Contests. ...
  7. Incorporate Post-Reading Activities.
21 Oct 2019

How do ESL students make reading fun? ›

ESL Reading Comprehension Activities
  1. ESL Reading Puzzle. For this comprehension activity, you will need two jigsaw puzzles consisting of around 20 pieces each. ...
  2. Rhyming Riddles. ...
  3. Scrambled Sentences. ...
  4. Filling in the Gaps. ...
  5. Text Related Questions. ...
  6. Book Discussion. ...
  7. Proverbs and Idioms. ...
  8. Matching Comprehension Activities.
8 Feb 2018

What are fun ways to teach reading? ›

Playing the imitation game is a great and fun way to teach reading that doesn't require any additional materials. If you want to give this activity a go, when you're reading with your child, change up your voice and then ask them to imitate you while reading the same sentence you just read.

What are the 6 basic reading skills? ›

  • Decoding. Decoding is a vital step in the reading process. ...
  • Fluency. To read fluently, kids need to instantly recognize words, including words they can't sound out. ...
  • Vocabulary. ...
  • Sentence construction and cohesion. ...
  • Reasoning and background knowledge. ...
  • Working memory and attention.

What are the 3 main type of reading strategies? ›

There are three different styles of reading academic texts: skimming, scanning, and in-depth reading. Each is used for a specific purpose.

How do you start a reading comprehension lesson? ›

Introduce or review the “Important Words to Know and Understand” listed on the lesson plan. Discuss prior knowledge of the book and activate schema for the strategy using the “Link to What You Know” questions. Set a purpose for reading by explaining that you will be reading the book as strategy experts.


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