Matt Done

Backwards planning - putting real life at the heart of teaching

Audience focus: All


One of the standard approaches to teaching that teachers are trained to use on courses such as the CELTA is 'PPP' (Presentation, Practice, and Production), which is also the approach of choice for many course books. Here, a language item - often a discrete item of grammar -is presented, practiced, and finally produced in a 'freer' context by the learners.
While PPP has its uses, one possible drawback might be that the final communicative task, rather than offering learners an opportunity to engage in meaningful and realistic communication, is sometimes just glorified grammar practice that doesn’t really resemble anything authentic.
This session aims to present one way of overcoming this issue – an approach called ‘backwards planning’. In backwards planning, the standard approach to lesson planning is flipped on its head, and the final task is designed first, with the rest of the lesson planned around it.
During the session, we will take a closer look at this approach to lesson planning. We will practice choosing real life tasks that are relevant to our learners’ lives and needs, as well as identifying useful language points to help them perform them.


Matt has been involved in ELT for 16 years as a teacher, teacher trainer, and academic manager.