Post-CELTA Confessions

Aspiring to be a better teacher

RSCON5 is almost here!

by Chiew

I stumbled upon this quote from Lowell Milken and I thought it rather apt.

“The only people who develop human potential and character as a calling are educators. This puts the men and women who become teachers and principals in a position of unique power for helping to secure the future.”


The thing is it’s not enough to qualify as educators, get work as one, and that’s that. It used to be that the teaching profession was rather closed, and often quite lonely. That has all changed. The Internet is to be blamed. Now, we can connect to educators from all over the word in a micro second. Now, we can share problems, ideas, a cup of virtual tea. Now, we can seek to inspire each other.

With high-speed connection more the norm than the exception, webinars are no longer confined to the privileged. This has somewhat of a “negative” effect. We are now spoilt for choice. Every day, there are a handful of webinars for you to attend; some need registration, some are given by prestigious organizations, most are free.

But, RSCON is special. It’s organised by a bunch of dedicated volunteers, it’s free, it’s international, and most important of all, the sessions aren’t usually a series of lectures but rather interactive events, where rooms are as cosy as your living room and presenters are your hosts, and the chat box is a constant buzz of endless ideas.

This year, RSCON is preceded by two mini events, one of which was held in April, and the next one is on 4th May.

I haven’t found a way of embedding the countdown timer on WordPress, but click on the image to find out when it is exactly where you are, and if you’re still unsure, just click on “Countdown to event” on the right hand side of the page.

Day/Time of MiniCon


The full programme details can be seen on this link.

Don’t regret missing this!




Citing your sources

by Chiew

It never fails to amaze me each time I come across someone who thinks that because something, such as an image, appears on the Internet, it’s free to be used as they please. It is simply not true!

FB Warped Belief

I write in several blogs and, at the last count, I have over 2000 photos in Flickr, mostly shared under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs licence. I’m only too pleased when someone uses my words or images, but the least I’d expect is to have a mention and a linkback. Some people even had the courtesy to ask me for permission in spite of the licence, which I greatly appreciated.

So when I read the above comment, I got somewhat agitated, to put it mildly.

If you’re doing the CELTA, and I might have already mentioned this before in previous posts, you are required to mention your sources. Be it an image, a grammar explanation or an activity, cite your sources clearly. Give credit where credit is due. On a handout or a PowerPoint, you can mention where you got your materials from on a footer; on your assignments, you’ll have to reference your sources properly or you’ll be marked down. Whether you’ll be marked down if you don’t do it in your handouts or slides depends on your tutor (I had a rant about this on one of the older posts…) but it’s a good idea to get into the habit, and stay with it for the foreseeable future.

Rather than get into the nitty-gritty details of copyright infringment, I’d thought it’d be useful to republish, with her kind permission, Sue Lyon-Jones’s excellent article “as is”. It was originally published here.

Using Digital Images - An Educator's Guide


September 16, 2012 · by  · in 

This article sets out to explain some of the general principles in law which apply to using and re-using digital images, and provide guidelines for good practice in referencing and attributing sources when sharing content online that others have created.

Things You Can Do With Images You Have Created

In theory, you can do pretty much anything you like with photographs you have taken yourself and other images you create; however,  if a photograph includes people who can be personally identified then it is a good idea to check that they are happy to have their picture shared online before doing so, as some people prefer to keep their digital footprint light. No different to clearing permissions with students before you photograph them or video them in class, really.

If you or the organisation you work for plan to host an event where you will be taking photos, then you should consider incorporating a model release statement into the sign-in sheet or registration form, in case you want to use the images for promotion or publicity at some point.

If you take photographs of artistic works (such as paintings, sculptures, etc) that are copyrighted, you may need permission from the person who owns the copyright to the artistic work or the gallery where the works are being shown if you want to share the images with a wider audience.

In theory you don’t need to attach a copyright notice or usage license to images you own the rights for, but it is a good idea to do so as it clarifies the types of uses that are allowed, and any uses that are not.

Things You Can Do With Public Domain Images

In theory, there are no restrictions on the way you can use images which are in the public domain, although it is worth noting that a significant proportion of images shared on the web which are described as being in the public domain are wrongly labelled as being so.

Copyright is widely misunderstood, and many people seem to think that anything uploaded to the internet is automatically in the public domain. It can often be difficult to establish who owns the rights to an image, or whether or not the person who owns the copyright has given permission for it to be shared. In view of this, it is a good idea to stick to using reliable sources that you can trust when searching for public domain images to use for educational purposes.

The Flickr Commons search link below is a good way to search and browse collections of public domain images that have been uploaded by credible and reliable sources, such as museums, art galleries, and government agencies:

Technically speaking, you don’t generally need to credit the uploader or the photographer or link back to the source when you use public domain images, although it is good practice to do so and it is a way of thanking people and acknowledging that they have shared  something useful that you have benefited from.

Recording information about the source of a public domain image can also be useful if you need to verify where you downloaded it from at a later date.

See below for an example of how to credit and link back to a public domain image.

Barack Obama       Image: Public Domain (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Things You Can Do With Images Licensed For Creative Commons Commercial Use

You can modify share, and distribute images licensed under CC BY for pretty much any purpose including commercially, but you must credit the author and attribute them in the manner that they have specified in order to comply with the license.  For example, some photographers may require you to use exact wording, and/or provide a link back to their site.  Paying attention to conditions attached to attributing other people’s work is important, because if you don’t you could run into problems at a later date.

Images licensed under CC BY-SA can be copied, shared, and modified, but once again you must credit the author in the manner they have specified. You must also share any modified versions of images you create under the same or a similar license as the license attached to the original work.

See the images below for examples of crediting and linking back to a CC BY-SA image, where the photographer has stipulated how the image should be credited.

Crediting an original image licensed under CC BY-SA:

Image  © Copyright Steve Daniels and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

 Crediting a modified version of the image, which I’ve licensed to share for reuse:

Image  © Copyright Steve Daniels . Modified by Sue Lyon-Jones and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Images licensed under CC BY-ND can be shared and used commercially, but you are not permitted to modify or adapt them.

To illustrate how this licence works, I created the header image for this post below, and licensed it under CC BY-ND.

To create the image, I blended together two separate public domain images obtained from here and here. You can share this image or reuse it for any purpose you like, but you must credit it to me and link back to my blog if you do, and you aren’t permitted to modify it or alter it in any way.  You have to use it exactly how it is.

Having said this, you are free to use the original images that I used to create the image above in any way you like, as they are both in the Public Domain.

Using Images That Have Non-Commercial, Creative Commons Licenses

In theory, Creative Commons non-commercial licenses ought to be a good choice for educational use but unfortunately, there is wide disagreement as to what actually constitutes commercial use.  I imagine most people would consider that using an image to teach in a way that doesn’t directly involve money changing hands amounts to non-commercial use; however, there are people who vehemently disagree with this interpretation, as some of the comments on Phil Wade’s blog in response to Anthony Gaughan’s guest post, “Breaking The Law in The Language Classroom“, illustrate here:

Even the people who created the licenses can’t agree on this particular point, which puts teachers who want to use works licensed as Creative Commons non-commercial in a difficult position, as their idea of what amounts to commercial use may differ from that of the person who attached a non-commercial license to the work.

The best way to clear up any doubt as to whether or not the way you propose to use an image matches the intentions of the person who owns the rights to it is to contact them and ask them to provide clarification.

In situations where an author (or a group licensing a collection of works) has publicly stated how their work can be used, then that ought to be enough for you to rely on. For instance,  this blog post on the eltpics ideas site for teachers explains how educators are permitted to use images that have been shared and uploaded to the eltpics Flickr account under a Creative Commons, Non-Commercial, Attribution license.

Images Licensed Under Traditional Copyright, All Rights Reserved

If you want to use images with traditional copyright attached to them, then the sensible approach is to contact the person who owns the copyright and ask for their permission, as the fair use provisions are complex and very limited when it comes to using digital media for educational use.

Avoiding Some Common Pitfalls

Don’t assume that images you find online are licensed under the same license as a page they appear on, as this often isn’t the case. For example, Voice of America news reports are in the public domain, but the images that they use to illustrate their articles are often sourced from agencies and licensed for use on the VOA site only.

You should not assume that images shared by a particular person will always have the same license attached to them, as this often isn’t the case. For instance, the personal photos that I share on eltpics are licensed under a Creative Commons, Non-Commercial license, but the images I use on my website may be copyright or have a different license attached to them.

Tips for good practice when re-using images created by others:

  • Check who owns the rights to any images you propose to use
  • Ask for permission before using images, where necessary
  • Make sure you understand the terms of any licenses attached to images you plan to use
  • Remember to credit your sources

Updated: The IATEFL Learning Technologies SIG and MELTA held a workshop on copyright law on Saturday 22 September 2012. Click on the link below for more information about the workshop, and to view the slides:

Copyright – what can we do?

Related Posts and Further Reading

Copyright, Plagiarism and Digital Literacy – My Guest Post on Teaching Village

Copyrights Or Copy Wrongs…?

JISC Digital Media – Copyright and Digital Images

Copyright Notice

This article by Sue Lyon-Jones is licensed under a Creative Commons, Attribution-Non Commercial, No Derivatives 3.0 License. If you wish to share it you must re-publish it “as is”, link back to this site, and retain any credits, acknowledgements, and hyperlinks within it.

Header image credit: Sue Lyon-Jones CC BY-ND


This post provides my interpretation of the law as it stands regarding the use of online use of images at the time of writing. It is accurate to the best of my knowledge, but it is provided for information and guidance only. It is not intended to be legal advice and it should not be relied on as a substitute for it.

Recommended books

[Learning Teaching: 3rd Edition Student’s Book Pack] [by: Jim Scrivener]

Teaching English Grammar: What to Teach and How to Teach it by Jim Scrivener ( 2010 ) Paperback

The Practice of English Language Teaching (4th Edition) (With DVD) (Longman Handbooks for Language Teachers) by Jeremy Harmer ( 2007 ) Paperback

A short guide to concept checking vocabulary

by celtaconfessions

Not my pet love… maybe my pet hate? 😉

As Rachael says, it ‘feels ridiculous, unnatural and patronising to be asking a series of questions to which we already know the answers’ and that ‘concept questions can be overdone and, particularly if they’ve been badly devised, they can be completely ridiculous.’

OK, so they have their good points. Agreed. BUT, and a big BUT, concept checking ought to be used ‘fairly sparingly, and most of all wisely’, not the way CELTA courses ask you to because, bear in mind, they are ‘testing’ to see if you know how to use it. It’s just that some tutors get overzealous and want you to use CCQs all the time and you might leave the course thinking they’re the best thing to happen since sliced bread!


Back in 1978 the psychologist Melissa Bowerman observed her 13 month old daughter, who was starting to talk. (Psychologists do a lot of this. In fact, I sometimes wonder if that’s the main reason they have children.) Anyway, her daughter was observed pointing at a ball, and saying ‘ball.’  She knows the word ball, you might conclude.

But then, over the next few months, the child also used the word ‘ball’ to describe a balloon, an Easter egg and even a pebble. So what exactly had she learnt? Probably that ball was something (more or less) spherical. That’s certainly part of the meaning, but we’d probably also have to add:

  • You play games with it, such as tennis or football
  • It doesn’t break when you throw it
  • It usually bounces
  • It can be between around 3 cm to about 12 cm in diameter

All these points go to make up…

View original post 844 more words

How much grammar do you need to know for CELTA?

by celtaconfessions

I’ve just been reviewing Week 2 Day 3, our first 60-min TPs, and I felt compelled to write a post to answer the question “How much grammar do you need to know for CELTA?”. It seems especially apt after the previous review of the input session Grammar (Introduction to Language Awareness).

You see, there was this trainee who’s a wonderful teacher – I’d recommend her without reservation – but grammar wasn’t her strong point. Her pride was such that she refused my offers of help, and consequently, I had to watch her suffer on at least two occasions, one worse than the other, or perhaps it was me who suffered more because I could feel her insecurity and noticed the errors she kept making.

Presenting tenses graphically by Chiew Pang

Do you know your tenses? Copyright 2013 Chiew Pang

If you’re a native speaker, unless you’ve done courses, you may not be very familiar with grammar. For your Celta course, you will probably have to do at least two DI lessons plus the fact that your students are adults means that they will at some point or other ask you grammatical questions.

CELTA courses DO NOT teach you grammar; in fact, they assume you have more-than-basic knowledge of it. So, if you ask, “Do I need to know grammar?” the answer from me will be a definite “yes”.

“How much grammar do I need to know?” A rudimentary knowledge is essential. You must at least know the name of the tenses! You can’t afford to confuse the past perfect with the present perfect, for example. You can’t have the students know more than you in this aspect because they will know the names and form of the tenses even if they don’t use them properly.

In this lesson I was reviewing, her main aim was “for, since and ago”, but she had spent the whole night preparing an analysis on the past simple, the present perfect and the present perfect continuous, probably more for herself than for the students. Subsequently, she spent too much time on this part, which ought to have been a cursory revision, and not enough time on her main aim. It could be that she was following the coursebook, which would be yet another lesson for future Celta trainees – use only what’s necessary! Know what your main aims are – don’t try to do too much because you won’t have the time to cover all of them.

You won’t have enough time in the course to devote to learning grammar points from scratch; it’s all right to have to study them in greater detail in preparation for your lesson, but you can’t be burning the candle at both ends because you’ll be messed up in the morning, and end up with an under-par lesson.

So, if your grammar knowledge is lacking, or even rusty, I’d suggest doing a course before Celta. I don’t get paid for saying this, but I can recommend Cambridge English Teacher; they offer a 5-hour grammar for teacher language awareness course for free – you’d only need to register.

Recommended books

[Learning Teaching: 3rd Edition Student’s Book Pack] [by: Jim Scrivener]

Teaching English Grammar: What to Teach and How to Teach it by Jim Scrivener ( 2010 ) Paperback

The Practice of English Language Teaching (4th Edition) (With DVD) (Longman Handbooks for Language Teachers) by Jeremy Harmer ( 2007 ) Paperback

Grammar for English Language Teachers by Martin Parrott

Practical English Usage by Swan and Walter, also here.

Week 2 Day 2: Grammar (Introduction to Language Awareness) and CCQs

by celtaconfessions

This input session lasted for an hour or so and went like this:

Each table was given an envelope with two batches of strips of coloured paper containing headings and words. Pink strips contained headings, such as “conjunctions”, and blue strips had words such as “and”. The object was to match the words to their headings. When we’d finished, we were to run up to the front and squeeze a squeaky toy. So, lots of shrieks, whoops and squeaks…

The best part were the ICQs – take note. How many words are there under each heading? THREE! What colour are the headings? PINK! Blah, blah, blah…

Sounded a bit like the coach before sending the players to the battle pitch: Who are the best? WE! Who are we going to thrash? TEAM X! Blah, blah, blah… 😉

Next, we were given five quotes and we discussed, in pairs, to see if we agreed or disagreed:

  1. The study of grammar as such is neither necessary nor sufficient for learning to use the language.
  2. It is through speech acts that new language ‘sticks’ in the learners’ mind. Insight into grammar is an equal partner in the dual process of acquisition/learning.
  3. Grammar is the engine behind language – it’s what makes the language stick together.
  4. Without studying grammar you can’t learn a language.
  5. Teachers of English should know all its rules.

What drew my attention was the fact that no sources were mentioned! Were we not told that we had to cite all sources, and we were graded negatively when we failed to comply? Mmm…

In discovery activity 2, we were to put 12 examples of verb forms into these categories: simple, perfect, continuous.  For example: He’s waiting / I’d imagined, etc.

I wasn’t sure as to the aim of this activity. Take “She’s been living”. I know it’s a present perfect continuous tense, but which category would you put it under? More importantly, does it matter?

Then, the second part of this activity was to deduce the rules on how to identify these three categories:

  • Simple tenses have no auxiliaries
  • Perfect tenses always have “has”, “have” or “had”
  • Continuous tenses always have a form of the verb “to be” plus a verb in -ing form (they liked to call the latter “verbing”).

Finally, discovery activity 3 was to name the tenses of four sentences based on the rules we “discovered” above.

My opinion:

I personally got nothing out of this session apart from a few laughs as it was quite a relaxing afternoon, in that sense. I know that Celta trainees are basically a mixed bunch of pre-service teachers and more experienced ones, and there are those who are familiar with grammar and those who aren’t. Some trainees didn’t know their perfect tenses from the simple. So, perhaps this session was aimed at the middle ground, which, to me, served little purpose. For those with inadequate grammar knowledge I doubt it enlightened them very much and for those with advanced knowledge, it was an hour’s worth of socialising, nothing much more than that.

What did the rest got out of it, I wonder…

Before this session, we had another, one on Conveying Meaning. I don’t have many records of this, which is why I haven’t reflected on it to the same extent. We were basically informed of the different ways of conveying meaning followed by examples of checking meaning, which means…yes…you’ve guessed it! Concept Checking Questions! I don’t remember much else except one of the sentences the meaning of which we had to convey was This milk is sour.

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