A Guide to Lesson Planning: Language Analysis

In order to teach a specific item of language, for example a tense or a lexical set, it is essential that you, as the teacher, “know” this item thoroughly which is why on a CELTA course you are asked to include a language analysis on the lesson plan. What does this include and what do you need to consider? Here, in this third post in the series on lesson planning, we have the answers to these and other questions all about language analysis.

Believe me, there is nothing worse than to be teaching something and not be prepared for questions your students throw at you about that specific piece of language, especially when you are being assessed! Being throughly prepared gives you extra confidence in the classroom,  which in turn gives you an aura of knowing what you are doing! This is where the language analysis comes in- it prepares you to teach a specific area of language; even if you think you know what a word means, have you thought about the difficulties your learners might have with it?

All centres have a slightly different lesson planning form that you are asked to fill in when planning a lesson on your CELTA course but most include the same components:

  • Meaning/ Use
  • Form
  • Phonology
  • Anticipated problems for meaning/ use, form & phonology
  • Solutions to any anticipated problems
  • Concept Checking Questions

So if we were going to look at a concrete example, let’s assume we need to analyse the language item “wardrobe” the language analysis section of the lesson plan might look something like this:

Item: There is a wardrobe in the corner of the room.

Meaning: A piece of furniture, usually made of wood, for keeping clothes. Usually in the bedroom.

Form: Countable noun, regular plural

Phonology: /ˈwɔːdrəʊb/

Anticipated Problems for Meaning: Students may confuse a wardrobe with a cupboard.

Solution: Use ccqs to check understanding of the difference. Use visuals to clarify what is in a wardrobe vs what might be in a cupboard


Anticipated Problems for Form: None

Anticipated Problems for Pronunciation: German students may pronounce the /w/ sound as /v/.

Students may pronounce the /ɔː/ sound as /ɑː/.

Italian/ Spanish students may pronounce the silent /e/ at the end.

Students may use the wrong stress /wɔː’drəʊb/

Solutions: Model and drill the pronunciation. Mark the stress on the board.

Concept checking questions:

  • Do I keep a shirt or pair of trousers in a wardrobe? Yes.
  • Is my wardrobe in the kitchen? No.
  • Does a wardrobe have a door to open? Yes, normally.
  • (using visuals) Which of these pictures is a wardrobe? The one on the right.

This is the kind of language analysis that would be expected for a lexical item. Now let’s look at one for a grammatical structure:

Item: If I lived in England, I’d be a teacher.

Meaning: An unlikely event. There is only a small chance that I will move to England.

Form: If + past simple, would (contracted form I’d) + bare infinitive

Pronunciation: /ɪf aɪ ‘lɪv dɪn ‘ɪŋlənd aɪd ‘biːjə ‘tiːʧə/

Anticipated Problems for Meaning: Students think because the past simple is used the meaning is in the past.

Solution: Clarify/check through ccqs that the meaning is in the present/ future

Anticipated Problems for Form: Students don’t use contracted form of I would.

Students muddle structure and use “If” and “would” in the same part of the sentence.

Students use present simple rather than past simple.

Solutions: Using fingers, indicate that “I” and “would” are joined together, thus eliciting “I’d” from the student

Elicit the word order/ form of verb from the students by fousing their attention to the structure written on the board.

Anticipated Problems for Pronunciation: Sts don’t link “lived” and “in” or “be” and “a” so sound unnatural.

Students don’t get the rhythm of the sentence.

Solutions: Using fingers, indicate that these words are linked together, model and drill the linked words.

Model and drill (possibly with clapping) the rhythm of the sentence. Use back-chaining if necessary (building up a sentence from the end eg a teacher- be a teacher- I’d be a teacher- in England I’d be a teacher- If I lived in England, I’d be a teacher.

Concept Checking Questions: 

  • Do I live in England? No.
  • Am I a teacher? We don’t know.
  • Are we talking about the present/ future or the past? Present/ future.
  • Is there a chance I will move to England? Yes.
  • A big chance or a small chance? Small.

Now that you’ve seen some examples of a language analysis here are some helpful hints:

  1. Put the language you are analysing into context (eg in a sentence). This will make it easier to write your ccqs.
  2. Write the definition (meaning/ use) at the students’ level so this can be used in class as well.
  3. If you come up with a problem students may have, always come up with a solution to the problem.
  4. When thinking about phonology, focus on sounds, stress, linking, weak forms as well as intonation.
  5. Use a dictionary when focusing on meaning as well as phonology but remember that the phonetic script in the dictionary is the strong form of the item said alone.

Which tips would you add to the list?


While you’re here….

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Author: Amanda Momeni

A CELTA tutor, English language tutor and co-author of The Ultimate Guide to CELTA

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