In simple terms the aim of a lesson details the teacher’s intention for that particular lesson.  It is often the first and foremost statement of a lesson plan against which the success of the lesson will be judged. An aim usually specifies one or more of the following:

  • a language point to be learnt or practised e.g. “to present and practise the present perfect”
  • a language function to be mastered e.g. “to introduce and give practice in the use of “should” for giving advice
  • a feature of pronunciation to be highlighted e.g. “to emphasise the use of rising intonation in question tags”
  • a skill to be developed e.g. “to practise reading gist”

It is generally recognized that language teaching involves far more than the teaching of language. The classroom in general and the language classroom in particular is a microcosm of everyday society and like the society which it serves, certain behavioural norms need to be developed and observed for it to function successfully and effectively. In addition to the purely linguistic aims above, we are thus brought to social aims such as:

“to develop the learners’ ability to actively listen to and question one another”


“to encourage the learners to work together and reach a decision”

If a linguistic aim tells us “why” we are teaching, a social aim helps us understand “how” – it reminds us of the path to be followed in order to reach this objective – a path along which the learners co-operate and collaborate not only with the teacher but also with each other. You might say that a linguistic aim is the “what” we teach but to do so would negate the importance of the content of the lesson – not its linguistic content but its educational subject matter. The educational content of a lesson addresses the need of the learner to develop as a whole rather than just as a user of language. We may thus add to linguistic and social aims a statement of educational content:

“to introduce and develop awareness of road safety” (for a group of young learners)


“to illustrate and provide practical examples of how individuals can recycle their own household waste”

In reality there is no fixed recipe for writing a lesson aim. Nevertheless, it is generally felt that a consideration of the L-Linguistic, S-Social, E-Educational opportunities provided by a particular lesson is a useful planning exercise which in the long term will give the learners a greater say in the classroom.