Planning a Language Lesson Based on Literature

Teaching children about grammar, punctuation, spelling and different writing techniques can sound daunting to them, especially when you put it like that. Creating a plan to inspire them to want to learn how to effectively use them can be even more difficult. There are thousands of examples of beautiful and inspiring pieces of literature that have become a part of our culture, it is time to use them. There’s no better tool to teach them the language arts than from a book.

Choosing the right book

The first thing you’ll need to do is to select the literature you’re going to use; a classic is always a good place to start. Find a book which is emotive, thought-provoking and interesting – the type of book you could pick up again and again. While choosing an excerpt would save a lot of time it will also prevent your class from being able to engage with the story. It would be best to read the whole book together and set reading for homework as well.

Get to know it inside and out

You will need to re-read the book as well to remind yourself of its ins and outs. This time you won’t just be reading for fun though, you should take note of any sections which display the literary devices you want to teach particularly well. Look for descriptions, dialogue, metaphors – anything which you want your class to learn and make a note of the excerpt.

Break down your extracts into sections, which one is good for which topic? Each one should have several great examples of language which you can use to demonstrate to them. To prevent the class from getting bored you will need to pick out more than one excerpt. They will quickly lose interest if they have to read the same bit over and over again. Pick out ones which are different, one which is descriptive, one which is funny or action-packed and one which is emotional. Each extract will show the language devices you need but also will be different enough to keep the students engaged.

Once you have your extracts picked out, you’re ready to begin. When planning make sure you know what materials will be needed for that lesson, what the outcomes are and how you’re going to achieve them.

Change things up

Lesson variation is key if you want to keep your students interested. Try to make each one a bit different so they are always on their toes. You’ll also need to ensure everyone is on the same page where the extracts are concerned. Your plan should detail your warm up, introduction, main activity, sharing and conclusion.

Get everyone interested

Most lessons begin with a warm-up, this is a great time to get the students engaged and thinking. It might also be needed to wake them up a bit, so this part should always be interesting. Pick an excerpt from your chosen piece of literature and have them re-enact it or imagine what the conversation would be if this character had met that character. It should be fun and stimulating as well as preparing them for the lesson ahead.

Plan the activities but be prepared for the unexpected

While the introduction is important to explain the plan to your students, it also shouldn’t take very long. The main activity is where most of the lesson should be spent. It also doesn’t necessarily have to be just the one activity or just the one extract. For example, each group could have a different extract which they have to highlight and make notes on the dialogue. The idea of this section is to help the students to help themselves. They should know what their aim is, whether that’s descriptive writing, dialogue, grammar or something else. You should highlight an example of this for them and then set the task(s).


Remember to leave time at the end for the students to share what they have produced. This helps to reinforce their learning, reward them for completing the task and gives a nice opportunity for both praise and constructive criticism. Expect for some students to come out with things that you weren’t expecting, this isn’t something you can plan for other than to expect something unusual. This is all part of the process though and if it’s relevant to the task – good on them! Finally plan the conclusion, this should be a bit open ended so you can comment on the work they have produced, but it should also clearly detail the outcomes they have achieved during the lesson.

Author bio: Aimee Laurence is an entrepreneur and content marketing specialist at Essay Writing Services. She also teaches English online.