Sprout English Lessons: Suggested Teaching Order

Last week, we got a tweet from Libby Sturgeon (@sturgeonesl) with a very good question: “Do you suggest doing the lessons/grammar in a certain order?”

Sprout English has hundreds of lessons in nine different categories (represented on the site by buildings). Are they already in order within the buildings? How do you go about combining lessons from different categories—what is the best order to follow in that case?

Let me start by saying that if you’re using a textbook in class and supplementing with Sprout English’s lessons, the answer is less complicated. Simply browse through the buildings and find what you need. Teaching the simple present? Go to Grammar Stories in the Grammar School building. The lessons have the words simple present right in the titles. Check out the Present Simple Stories section of the Library. Try the Present Simple Dialogues 1 section in the Conversation Station. What if you need something more specific, such as practice exercises with the modal can? Go directly to the Can lesson in the Grammar School. (Note: If you plan on using more than one simple present lesson with your class, see Recommended Teaching Order for Sprout English’s Lessons below for guidance on which lesson and which section to do in what order.)

Now for the tough part. What if you’re using Sprout English as your main textbook, whether it’s in a classroom, for a private lesson, or with your own child for extra practice? Or what if you’re using several lessons on a certain topic to supplement your text? In these cases, the order of presentation of the lessons becomes more important. While there’s no right or wrong answer and the possibilities are endless, I’m sure teachers and parents would appreciate some guidance from someone who knows the site thoroughly. I’m happy to offer some suggestions based on my familiarity with the site and my many years of teaching experience.

Recommended Teaching Order for Sprout English’s Lessons:

I’ve divided the lesson plans into basic (general target) and detailed (specific target).

I. BASIC: Follow this pattern for a general grammar target such as the simple present (see example below). Follow a similar pattern for the other major grammar points: present progressive, simple past, past progressive, simple future, present perfect, first conditional, adjectives, gerunds/infinitives, etc. Note: If your students are very young or true beginners, you’ll want to start with lessons from the Phonics Cafe so they can learn the alphabet and sounds.

Grammar Target: Simple Present

  1. Conversation Station: Present Simple Dialogues 1 – Conversations such as I’m from Canada (to try using the grammar in context)

  2. Library: Present Simple Stories – Beginner readings such as Baseball (to see the grammar in context and do practice exercises)

  3. Grammar School: Short lessons for practice with simple present questions such as Do, Can, Are, Is, What, When, etc.

  4. Grammar School: Grammar Stories (Simple Present) – Low-intermediate readings such as Anna’s Garden (to see the grammar in context and do practice exercises)

Note that the stories in the Library are more basic than the lessons in the Grammar Stories section of the Grammar School.

I would suggest alternating lessons from the Conversation Station, Library, and Grammar School on a particular grammar point until you feel like your students are producing it well. You can always assign leftover lessons for homework or to students who need additional practice. Use leftover lessons for review or tests, too.

Don’t forget to check out Sprout English’s blog for posts about grammar and related activities. For example, I recently blogged about Teaching the Simple Present, and Tara Benwell blogged about a Daily Routines Game to review the simple present.

Once a week, do a vocabulary lesson from the Word Bank building. You can choose a theme related to something you’ve covered in the grammar sections, or just choose any theme that appeals to you—all are geared to be interesting for young learners. Each Word Bank lesson has several pages, so I’d recommend doing one or two on the first day and one on each subsequent day that week so that the vocab really sets in.

Also, for a break from grammar, try a lesson from the Discovery Center about once a week. Each lesson has a short reading and fun activities on a topic that will grab your young learners’ attention. Many of the topics match the lessons in the Word Bank, which makes this a great way to review the vocabulary your students have learned. For example, you could do the Word Bank lesson on Cars (in the Transportation section) on Monday to Thursday, and do the Discovery Center lesson on Smart Cars (in the Methods of Transportation section) on Friday.

Use activities from Sprout English’s Project Depot, Games Room, and Color Mart for fun warm-ups, fillers, or as a reward after a long or difficult lesson. For a look at how I use warm-ups and fillers in my classes, check out How to Make a Lesson Plan over on our sister site, ESL-Library.

II. DETAILED: You could follow the basic pattern above while choosing exercises within the sections that are based on themes such as likes/dislikes (see example below), adjectives/describing people, sports, etc.

Grammar Target: Simple Present – Likes and Dislikes

  1. Conversation Station: Present Simple Dialogues 1 – Conversations such as I Like History (to try using the grammar in context)

  2. Grammar School: Do section – Beginner grammar questions such as Do you like (colors)? (for targeted grammar practice)

  3. Library: Present Simple Stories – TV Boy (Likes/Dislikes) (to see the grammar in context and do practice exercises)

  4. Conversation Station: Present Simple Dialogues 1 – Do You Like Science? (to practice producing the target language)

If you ever need a recommendation for lessons on a particular theme, let us know in the comments section below, on Twitter, or on Facebook. We’ll be happy to put together a list of suitable lessons for you!

If anyone has used Sprout English’s lessons in a different order, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below. I’m a firm believer in sharing knowledge—when teachers share their ideas and experiences, it helps us all be better teachers and makes life a little easier.


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Tanya Trusler

Tanya is a freelance editor and writer with an extensive background as an ESL teacher. She edits lesson plans, creates new materials, and writes weekly blog posts for ESL-Library and Sprout English. Her company is Editing to a T. Follow her on Twitter (@tanyatrusler) and Google Plus.

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