Day 1, 1st Oct, pre-lunch session

by celtaconfessions

Up, bright and early, eager yet apprehensive. What am I letting myself in for…?

When I arrived at the school, there were a few people there already. Amazingly enough, the first three trainees I exchanged words and names with ended up in the same group as me: Hatty, Freya & Ingmar. Of course, I wouldn’t know this until later.

The reception area soon filled up, and before long, we were shepherded into a largish room, this was to be the room where the intermediate level students have their lessons, the only one with a white board and an interactive whiteboard.

There were 18 of us; from what I know, this is not a normal size, the more common number is 12. 18 means we were divided into 3 groups, and we would be teaching three different levels – pre-intermediate (A2), intermediate (B1) and upper-intermediate (B2). Courses of 12 only need to change levels once; we’d need to change twice, and this would take a heavy toll on us. I, personally, think this ought to have been taken into consideration when evaluating and grading us.

We met out trainers: Jo, Ceri & Ian. And surprise, surprise, what was to be the first activity? Find someone who… They’d scrutinised our profile and come up with supposedly 18 unique statements about us – a Shakespearean actress, a high-flying lawyer (or low-diving? ;-P), someone who’d appeared in Baywatch… Yes, we have a great varied bunch, from babies to granddads 🙂

So, that took the first 30 minutes. To complete our group were Chris, from Florida, and Al, banished from NZ to UK, and now drinking Seville dry. Al knows I like to tease him 😉

Our group was lucky in the sense that we’d teach the A2s first, followed by the B1s, and finally the B2s. Each group has a main tutor – ours was Ian – and a secondary tutor – ours was Ceri. We’d teach two levels with the main trainer, and one level with the secondary.

We would meet out students, but before we did that, we brainstormed within our group, questions we would like to ask them.

The interview session was quite chaotic, I thought. Anyway, the ice was broken and they got to see our faces and hear our voices.

And it was only 10:30!

15-minute break, and we were back in the small classroom, to watch a demo lesson by Ian. This went on until 12:15.

What was the lesson? The main aim was to teach pronunciation of the endings of regular simple past verbs: /t/, /d/, and /ɪd/. This was his first class with these students, too, so he didn’t really know the true level of the students. He introduced the class by talking about his summer and after that, asked the students to do the same with the person next to them.

Later, in groups, they had to arrange a picture story, and then match them to texts, which was in the form of, for example, “to rescue somebody”. When they’ve done this, they told the story to each other. From here, naturally, he would hear the mispronunciation of the simple past verbs and went on to guide the students to do it the right way.

Our task? To observe and answer questions on our handout regarding staging and classroom management.

After a short break, we analysed & discuss the lesson.

Post-CELTA reflection: The lesson was clear, language was well-graded, and so on. After all, Ian was an experienced CELTA trainer. Me, I play a different ball game, I guess. It’s a bit like playing football with a team like Manchester United or Barcelona or playing it in the back streets of Rio de Janeiro. Not that I play, mind you. LOL. For me, it was too clinical. Did the students warm up to him? I don’t think so. In any case, this wasn’t his aim, neither the primary nor the subsidiary, in my opinion. This would be the only class he’d teach them – the rest would be taught by us and the other two groups.

Did they learn how to pronounce the -ed endings? To a fashion. I’m sure they’d forgotten the lesson by the following day. To teach the the /t/ and /d/ sounds, i.e., the voiced and voiceless sounds, Ian used the hand-on-throat technique. Personally, I find that most people have difficulty with this, especially females – due to the absence of Adam’s apple? I would add to this technique, the hands-covering-ears one, too. The effect is more pronounced.

I’d also do more practice, maybe even introduced this excellent interactive game.

Also, I think one of the other trainees – was it you, Hatty? – asked Ian if all the English vowel sounds are voiced and he said no. Or was I imagining it? Well, ALL English vowels sounds are voiced.

Break for lunch! Phew! And, it was only 2pm!