Teaching articles: thinking in context + a lesson plan

teaching articlesTeaching articles has always posed a major professional and cognitive challenge for me. I’d always feel relieved once the lesson was over and never looked forward to tackling this issue. I decided to face this challenge inspired by the Twist’17 Conference manifesto and I presented the lesson plan I created during my session yesterday. Keep to reading to learn about this journey and download the lesson plan.

My lesson plan about articles was born out of frustration. Double frustration actually. On one hand, there were my students:

  • overwhelmed with the number of rules about using articles each coursebook has always bombarded them with
  • not confident how to use articles and avoiding them any chance they got

This has led to my fairly advanced students producing long pieces of quite decent writing that sometimes contained absolutely no articles whatsoever. On top of that, they were so traumatised by numerous approaches to learning this grammar point, they winced at the very thought of ever having to look into that concept.

On the other hand, there was I, the teacher:

  • overwhelmed by the number of rules my students were bombarded at each turn
  • not confident how to teach this problem without adding to the already existing confusion
  • frustrated with not having a proper game plan in place

Don’t we seem like the most miserable bunch?


At the same time, I was becoming familiar with the principles of lean lesson planning promoted by Twist’17 Conference. This made me think of how I could apply this new knowledge in the direst of teaching situations: approaching teaching and learning about articles with my B2+ students.

A lot of questions went through my mind:

  1. How could I break this topic down?
  2. How could I make it clear?
  3. Was there any way to help my students discover the rules for themselves?
  4. Was there any strategy to help them make right articles choices in the future?

After pondering what seemed like an insurmountable challenge, I finally saw some light:

  1. I decided to focus on the context only to promote thinking over memorising
  2. I decided to use a written text to create a place where general and specific meaning of nouns become clear
  3. I decided to create a sequence of steps that would help my students formulate some rules on their own
  4. I decided to create a mechanism that would help them make correct article choices in their own writing (and hopefully speaking!)

I packaged my concept in a lesson plan focusing on the topic of public speaking.

What problems has it solved for me?

  • reduced my students’ confusion
  • reduced their fear of using articles (gave them some tools to make logical choices as opposed to guessing)
  • helped organise their prior knowledge
  • boosted my students’  and mine morale

Doesn’t it seem like a tremendous change?

To download the lesson plan and a set of teaching notes, leave your email below.

Take a look at some grammar lessons:


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