Post-CELTA Confessions

Aspiring to be a better teacher

Tag: assessment

Not just an empty vessel

by celtaconfessions

Pull up a chair. Make yourself at home. Whatcha like? Cuppa? Coke? Glass of wine?

Cappuccino and puffs

Copyright 2012 Chiew Pang

Blame it on Freya, who told me it was unfair of me to mention criticisms of others but not of myself; blame it on Barry for encouraging me to exorcise the demons. I’ve been stuck on Day Four as though I were trapped in a warped time machine, and going off on tangents like an out-of-control spinning top… (Freya, cue: smile!)

OK, so you think my ranting and raving has been totally over-the-top, that I have no evidence, that I’ve been somewhat unprofessional… is that right? OTT, debatable. Evidence, I have… some. Professionalism? Yea, talk to me about that. Anyway, let’s take a look at this CELTA course from the top down, or is it bottom-up? Let’s roll up our sleeves, push up our glasses, and crack on!

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’d do the course again, no doubt about that. I enjoyed it for many reasons – No8Do Seville, the ambience, the unfinished (and the non-existent) conversations, the shattered fantasies and the grim reality, the lost, dreary looks, the bonding, the tension, the laughter, the tears, the love, the fear, and a multitude of various other human feelings; yes, I’d do it again. So, why all the ranting? Because I believe in continuing professional development and that applies not only to myself but to everything else above, including, naturally, CELTA.

I know I’m a nonentity, but I’ve lately got into the habit of talking to the screen as no-one else would talk to me, so, here goes…

I’d actually planned to do this at the end; it would have made more sense after I’ve had the chance to review everything, but the demons saga has pushed everything out-of-sync, and I just felt I had to take it a step further. Perhaps I’ll do another review right at the end.

What would you do if you were to give this lesson again? We were constantly asked. I ask: what would you do if you had a chance to change the course?

Primordial

Have you seen the stats? No, I won’t give the link again. Go to my last post and look for it. Doesn’t something stick out a mile from it? Does it look “normal”, does it look “professional” even? The very first thing that I’d change would be to have two grades: PASS and FAIL. That would, at a single stroke, remove tremendous pressure from trainers and trainees alike.

No matter how much is claimed about trainers being trained and standardised, they are humans, not robots. Humans have feelings. Humans err. Humans get tired. Humans have good and bad days. Having just a pass and a fail grade minimises the effects of these “defects”.

Streamline

The second thing I would do is to streamline the whole assessment and evaluation process; I’d cut the number of components by at least half. I’ve mentioned before in one of my older posts that I had no idea how trainers are able to do so many things and to evaluate on so many aspects… except by not doing it to the best of their ability. It’s simply c-r-a-z-e-e.

The check list should be reduced to just a few essential items. A box could be used to add additional aspects that trainers see fit to mention. Not once was a box marked N/A (not applicable) when clearly, there were circumstances when it would be so. An example would be “organising the classroom”. Imagine a scene where each trainee gets to the front and start rearranging the classroom! Multiply that by the number of teachers, lessons, days and soon, you’ll end up with no students.

So, reduce check list drastically, getting rid of, quite frankly, senseless components. Allow for N/A. Allow a space for additional comments.

Feedback

Readers of my other blog know that I regularly ask for students’ feedback, often after every lesson. I don’t know if the “guinea pigs” of CELTA courses give feedback. I suspect they do, but only once for each teacher, no doubt. Whether they do or not, trainees themselves do not get to see it. I’d change that. First, I think a feedback after each class would be useful. They could have a 20-minute feedback just before the tutor’s, or they could do it online and could also remain anonymous. Whichever way, trainees ought to be party to it.

Input sessions

I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels these need to be overhauled. Are they the same for all centres? I have no idea. To go into detail, I’d need to look into my notes and recordings, something I’m not prepared to do at this stage. I will comment on them as I review the day-by-day events. However, a couple of them springs to mind.

We had, if I remember correctly, three phonology sessions. Don’t get me wrong; I dig phonology and I’m an Underhill fan, so in a way, the sessions weren’t of much benefit to me, but that isn’t the reason why I think, quite frankly, they should be either scrapped or reduced to one session. My general view of the trainees is that they needed more a grammar than a pronunciation lesson. They can get by without knowing the phonetic script, but can they get by without knowing grammar? I’ve seen them breaking down in class because the lesson aim was beyond them. It’s not pleasant to watch that; one feels so helpless, not being allowed to help a fellow trainee.

The other was the Young Learners session. It was fun; it was enjoyable, but did we need it? I suppose now that the “A” in CELTA no longer stands for adult, it’s justified? Or perhaps it acts as a filler, happening towards the end when some have actually finished all their TPs. If we have the YLE, why not one on business? Or 1-2-1? Or telephone/online lessons?

My input suggestions

  • In methodology, we had TBL, DI, and skills. I would definitely include Teaching Unplugged. Maybe even a 30-minute TP. Imagine there’s a power cut. No photocopier, no printer, no internet, no IWB, no PC, hell, not even lights. No tools, no paper. Get up there. Give your lesson.

This is real life. This is survival.

  • Technology. It cannot be assumed that everyone has sufficient knowledge of this. Some of us may take tools such as PowerPoint and media players for granted, but there are others who struggle with the most basic of techy stuff.

 

  • CPD. I’m surprised this wasn’t included. Half of the trainees, if not more, were probably not even aware of what it stands for. I’d expected at least one session of this because I thought they would be wanting to sell their other courses, but I was mistaken. This is ESSENTIAL. What forms of CPD are there? Why is it important? How to use social media for CPD, etc. Tons of stuff to talk about.

These are some suggestions which came to mind at the time of writing. I’m sure there are more, and I may mention them in future posts. What do you feel about them? Do you agree/disagree? Were you a trainee once? What would you do to improve the course? Are you a trainer? Are you happy with the current programme?

Let the demons out!

by celtaconfessions

Let the demons out by Chiew Pang

Image copyright 2012 Chiew Pang

This is dedicated to Barry Jameson for “encouraging” me to let the demons out, as though I needed encouragement! 😉

Allow me to fast forward a couple of months or so… and allow me to “analyse” the detailed grading, or rather my detailed grading. I’d love to have the views of CELTA tutors… 😉

As regular readers must be aware by now, even if I had only arrived at Day 4, I felt I had been unfairly evaluated almost from the very beginning. Perhaps I’m really bad; that could also be possible. Why not? No-one has stood up for me, have they? But, still, this being a free world, and this being my blog, I can rant and rave all I want and feel good about it! 😉

The detailed grading is broken down into four categories:

  • Planning for the effective Teaching of Adults (their caps) – 7 components
  • Classroom Teaching Skills – 14 components
  • Awareness of the Teaching and Learning process – 5 components
  • Professional Development – 6 components

There are 4 different grades for each component: 1 = excellent; 2 = very good; 3 = to standard; 4 = requires attention.

If you think the CELTA grades shouldn’t be taken with a pinch of salt, take a look at these statistics from 2011: http://www.cambridgeesol.org/what-we-do/research/grade-stats/2011/celta.html 😉

Let’s begin the journey, shall we?

PTA

  • Identifying appropriate learning outcomes

I wonder if the tutor knows what he’s grading here. Tutors? Tell me. What deserves a 1, 2, 3 or a 4? How much can you identify when you see your group of between 9 to 15 students about, what, six times? That was in our case. So, should we be evaluated differently from those who see their students for twice as much? And how did he judge what I could or could not identify? I would really like to know. Well, actually, I’d like to know how he judged me on every component!

  • Planning for a learner-centred classroom

My priority had been, was, and is the learners. Probably more than the tutor’s himself. What grade would he give himself, I wonder. Lower than me? Remember my last post, about changing my warmer because the students looked as though they had had enough before I even started? OK, credit to him – he gave me a 2! It must have been a terribly difficult decision. But, why not a 1? What prevented him I wonder.

  • Selecting/designing tasks and activities appropriate for the learners, stage and aims.

Another good one. Most of the time it was he himself who suggested the tasks. So? Would he have preferred me to argue with his choice? And those activities I selected myself, personally, I thought they went down well. The learners enjoyed them, thought they were useful, etc. Perhaps my problem was that I hardly ever used the coursebook. Is that it? Because I was bold enough? Because I was creative enough? Because I believed in a learner-centred environment? Or perhaps he considered me a little arrogant bastard who had the nerve to neglect coursebooks, or adapted them to suit the learners’ needs?

  • Selecting, adapting and using an appropriate range of materials and resources.

This one made me laugh. I can bet you my bottom dollar someone who had stuck through thick and thin with the coursebooks had got better than the 3 he gave me. Oh, c’mon! Give me a frigging break! Oh, perhaps I got penalised for relying more on paperless materials and resources.

  • Presenting materials with professional appearance and regard to copyright requirements.

If there was clear proof of how difficult it was for him to award me a 1, this must be it. I was the only one who from the time we were told that it was necessary to cite the source, did it not only in the handouts, but also on my PowerPoint slides. What did I have to do? Ah, yes, perhaps use more coursebook materials? Tell me I’m arrogant, but I know what my PowerPoints are like. Some of them have been downloaded thousands of times from all over the world, so don’t talk to me about “professional appearance”. Do you want to know something? My main tutor probably has a minimal knowledge on tech; my secondary tutor was far ahead; I’m sure she appreciated my efforts more.

  • Anticipating potential difficulties with language and activities.

I’m of the view that the more you anticipate the better rather than the other way around. We’re not clairvoyants. The problem is when something arose which you hadn’t anticipated. All my lesson plans had very positive feedback, yet it was considered I deserved no more than a 3. Beats me.

  • Setting out details of staging and timing

If there was an area I could agree with, it’d probably be this one, although apart from one or two lessons, my timing was quite all right, I’d say. In any case, I don’t attach much importance to this component. If your learners are your priority, timing becomes quite secondary. You can’t rush learning, nor can you pigeonhole it into rigid time slots.

CTS

  • Establishing rapport and developing motivation

Giving me a 2 here can only be considered an insult, unless it was because I didn’t sing and dance in class nor go out and have a couple of beers with them at night…

  • Adjusting own language to meet level and needs of learners

All I know is that I often asked students (out of class) if they understood me, if they liked the lesson, etc. and their answers have always been very positive.

  • Giving clear instructions

I think I’ve dealt with this enough times, so I’ll pass on it. See The Ten Commandments.

  • Focusing on specific language.

A head-scratcher, this. What exactly are you grading here, CELTA trainers? Is specific language supposed to mean that which they are meant to be taught in any one lesson? Or does it mean something else? And if useful language emerges, something which can be considered essential, but it’s not directly related to the “language of the day”, what is the trainer supposed to do? I bet tutors have no guidelines on this and each one is left to grade as he sees fit.

  • Focusing on language skills and subskills.

So, why give me a 2 for this and a 3 for the above? That I focused better on their language skills than the language they used?

  • Conveying meaning in context

I wonder if he noticed the errors the others made as much as he did mine…

  • Checking learners’ understanding of language

I suppose what’s being graded here is how many CCQs you’ve used during your month-long course… 😉

  • Clarifying forms of language

I don’t want to sound arrogant, yet again, but I believe that I was the only one in the group who dared explain with marker on the board when students threw their grammar questions at us. Ask the students. I didn’t have to resort to ‘If you stay behind after class, I’ll explain” kind of delay tactics. So, give me a break.

  • providing natural, accurate and appropriate examples of written and spoken language.

Another of the many mysteries. Do tutors have to provide justification for each grade they awarded? If they do, mine must make interesting reading… to me, anyway!

  • Helping students with their pronunciation

For some reason unknown to me, my tutor never liked my drilling techniques. That was the impression I got. Because I dared to inject a bit more creativity into it? Maybe it was just because I didn’t have an Oxford accent.

  • Providing a full written record of the lesson and language

Oh-oh-oh, this must be a REAL JOKE, right? A 3???? Justify yourself, my dear tutor, if you dare! Where did I fall short? Because I used more paperless PowerPoints instead of tree-chopping handouts? If you look in my portfolio, you’ll find that I actually chopped some trees and filed hard copies of the slides, albeit in miniature forms (to minimise the tree-chopping, you see). Ah, I know. It’s because I failed to include instructions on one handout on my second TP. Ah, I’ve realised another. On my second TP, too, I did a warmer of which there was no record.

  • Identifying errors and sensitively correcting oral and written language.

Another it-beats-me star awarded!

  • providing appropriate practice activities

Ditto. This is getting to be a tad boring.

  • Monitoring and evaluating learners’ progress.

I bet it gets to a point sometimes when tutors must be so tired and bored, that they take pot luck and say, mmm, I’d better give a 2 on this one.

ATLP

  • Teaching with sensitivity to the needs, interest and background of the group
  • Organising the classroom to suit the learners and activity
  • Setting up and managing individual, pair, group and class work
  • Adopting a role appropriate to the aim/stage of the lesson and the teaching context
  • teaching in a way which helps to develop learner self-awareness and autonomy

What can I say, Mr Tutor? I don’t envy your job, your tasks. But, I’ll say this. The first room was so small, there wasn’t many, if any, possibilities of changes. In any case, it was fine the way it was for everyone for every activity. I even had them moving, remember?

In the other room, were you aware that it was I who, by simply moving a desk from one side of the room to the other, it gave us, the teachers much more room to move, and we could walk comfortably around the class to monitor the students? No, probably not, because I did it when you were not around and I didn’t think it necessary to shout about it. It wouldn’t surprise me if you hadn’t even noticed it in the first place!

PD

  • Assessing own teaching strengths and weaknesses and making practical use of this
  • Listening and learning from comments made by tutors, colleagues and students
  • Liaising with colleagues and commenting constructively on their lessons
  • Working independently and taking responsibility where appropriate
  • Attending fully, and arriving punctually
  • Professionalism

Hallelujah! It must have broken his pen to award me a 1 for the last two components! The rest of the PD got the it-beats-me award! For your information, Mr Tutor, I was always there for my colleagues. When Ingmar, Chris and Al couldn’t get their PowerPoint or the PC going, there I was. And when Hatty had doubts with wishes and regrets, I was there, too. And, Hatty, I know there’s only a one-in-a-billion chance you’ll read this, but if you had only asked for help the night before, I would have been there too and you wouldn’t have gone to bed at 4am and almost drowned in your own tears that day (and you would have also found out that I didn’t want anything in return). Freya, well, she hardly needed any help from me, but I think there might have been once, but I can’t remember for what it was.

And I was also there for some of the others not in my group… when they were nervous and needed calming, when they didn’t know how to download YouTube videos, when there were problems with printers, with pen drives, …

To end, let me ask another question. What about PD after CELTA, eh? I was surprised not a word was mentioned of this. I thought there was going to be an input session regarding this; I would even have volunteered to talk about it. There is life after CELTA, you know, and life after CELTA is, indeed, very different.

Day Four, I was left to hang

by celtaconfessions

First to go was Ingmar.

Aim: to practise reading comprehension & improve speaking skills. Book reference: New Headway, Pre-Intermediate, p18-19 (jigsaw reading)

Positive:

  • Great opening with a video of Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York”. This created interest and set the context before actual reading tasks.
  • Graded language well.
  • Clear comprehension questions.
  • Clear discussion questions.
  • Adapted coursebook well.

Could be better:

  • He had prepared 3 texts, and had been banking on 9 students. I’d mentioned before, I think, that it’s essential to prepare yourself for all possibilities. When you’re “on the floor”, if you aren’t prepared, you may get stumped for ideas, which was what happened to Ingmar. He had two possibilities – he could get two of the observing teachers, or he could have gone 2+2+3; instead he did neither and opted for using only two texts. Unfortunately, this caused a little confusion, especially when students saw three “answers” and didn’t understand what was going on.
  • Instructions. Possible because of the above, some instructions were not readily understood. he’d had a go at some ICQs (well done, Ingmar, if you’re reading) but not enough, according to the tutor.
  • Too front-loaded. Students should have had more time to confer and discuss among themselves.

Advice coming from the feedback session:

  • Early PW is important. Students often do not get the chance to practise speaking outside of class and the last time they spoke in English is likely to be in the previous class. So, it’s good to get them into gear, so to speak.
  • Practising reading comprehension is not a vocabulary lesson. Blocking lexis (vocabulary which impedes the ability to answer the comprehension questions) must be dealt with, but if it isn’t essential, it is quite all right to tell students, if they asked for its meaning, “Don’t worry about it. You can answer the comprehension questions without the need to know the meaning of that word.”
  • There are two main ways of dealing with blocking lexis:
  1. Provide a glossary with the text. If doing this, be sure to highlight the words in the text. If this isn’t done, chances are that they won’t be noticed, or will be ignored.
  2. Test the students. A matching activity is a good way of getting students to work out meaning from the context.

Next to go was Al

Aim: to revise present simple, to express annoying habits that people have + vocabulary of bad habits. To practise listening comprehension. Book reference: New Headway, Pre-Intermediate, p20.

Positive:

  • Good language grading. Al actually spoke slower and clearer today. (Well done, boy!)
  • Introduced the subject well by giving examples of habits which annoy him such as his girlfriend ringing him when he’s out having a great time – drinking – (did you draw a picture of this, Al? I don’t remember this well) and leaving his sunglasses at home (using realia) on a sunny day.
  • Early PW on what they find annoying
  • 3rd person feedback on the above
  • Fantastic rapport with students
  • Visuals to convey bad habits
  • Dealt with technical issues well – the sound files didn’t work, so Al read the listening text himself. Good thing to have the script at hand!
  • Students conferred after the listening comprehension.

Could be better:

  • Your maths, AL! Remember how you took 10 minutes off your 40-minute slot? Shame I didn’t have the camera then. And we were trying to catch your attention without either Ian or the students realising?
  • Meaning of “annoy” conveyed, but not the form nor the pronunciation (or was the latter done?)

Advice from the feedback session:

  • Be sure to do the language analysis first and not gathering the materials. What is the aim? What problems are the students likely to have?
  • Part of the aim was to revise the present simple. On the handout of images of annoying habits, it would have been a good idea to have sample sentences. Perhaps there could have been a match-the-sentence-to-the-image type of exercise.
  • regarding the same handout, the answers have to be given, either on the handout itself, or on the WB.

Finally, my turn

Aim: To revise and practise past simple regular and irregular in positive, and negative forms. Book reference: New Headway, Pre-Intermediate, p22-23.

Verdict: I was happy with the lesson; I thought it went well – great visuals (always my strong point), great rapport, dynamic… I even got my timing spot-on. The students enjoyed the lesson… Not sure about my fellow trainees – I think by the time it got to my turn, everyone was just thinking of their lunch break.

Then, Ian massacred me. Literally. Left me to hang out to dry. So, I don’t want to go through the pain again.

Iberian ham in a restaurant

Left to hang; Copyright 2012 Chiew Pang

Instead, I’ll console myself with his “glowing” comments:

  • Friendly with students
  • Graded language well, clear instructions
  • Adapted coursebook well
  • Tested students twice on past simple verb forms
  • Got students to predict the story
  • Tested students on recognising past simple verb forms
  • Ended with an oral summary.

“This was a stimulating, fun lesson that the ss really enjoyed. You have a great rapport with the students and gave them plenty of listening practice via the written text and the live listening exercise. This showed how difficult it is for ss to hear/recognise past forms.”

Day 2, First teaching practice, aka Students? Profiling the trainees is more fun!

by celtaconfessions

CELTA First teaching practice

The Fab 5. Copyright 2012 Chiew Pang

If you’ve read Day 1, Part 3, you would have seen our schedule and each of our aims for the lessons. The coursebook we were supposed to be using for this group was New Headway Pre-Intermediate. But, this “event” took place “so long ago” what can I say about it? It’s all a hazy memory now. My fellow trainees hardly speak to me so there isn’t any point asking them, is there? Seriously, I was lucky to be in this group which had two perfect women. The men, well, men aren’t supposed to be perfect, are we? 😉

Hatty. The only flaw she has was her addiction to aubergines ;). Well, she has another, but I won’t say it behind her back.

She was on first, and, boy, was she on. The topic was ways of communication. As soon as she opened her mouth in front of the classroom, I knew this one had voice training. Only later did I find out that she is an accomplished actress and a singer, to boot. Needless to say, she gave one heck of a show.

Chris must have known what he’d be up against, so he chickened out. LOL. On top of that, what did he have to do? To give reading practice! He must have figured it’d be wiser to stay in bed.

Seriously, we thought he’d overslept because of jet-lag. Bear in mind, some trainees came a day or two before the start of the course – not much time to get acclimatised at all. The truth was he learned, like the rest of us, how easy it is to get lost in Seville! A journey that ought to have taken 10 minutes took him 40 because he was walking around in circles! Poor Chris!

I don’t think he’d like to be reminded of this lesson, so I won’t remind him.

Next was Freya, the other perfect lady. She was nervous, I could tell, but she kept it under control the whole time. To give a lesson on detailed reading on your first TP? To be applauded. I think she was Ian’s favourite.

The only problem with her lesson was Ian had to come on for a good few minutes while the police were out searching for Chris and he “stole” a part of her plan, and she repeated it. She had little choice, really. Not a criticism, Freya! 🙂

Then, it was Al’s turn. He was sly. When he spoke to us, I told him I couldn’t understand a single word of what he said, but he spoke oh-so-clearly to the students! You see, Al, if not for me…! Al’s from Australia, you see. What? Did I really say that? LOL. Al knows I like teasing him. I’m not sure which is the more serious crime, confusing a Canuck with a Yank or a Kiwi with an Ozzie… What made it worse was the students couldn’t point out NZ on the map, let alone identify the flag!

Anyway a display of a little haka and the students were falling into his pockets.

And what better person to come after a Kiwi than an Ozzie? I think Ingmar suffers from an identity crisis – just like me, haha. An Australian with a Swedish name, and whose second language is Swedish! And who plays a mean Spanish guitar à la Paco de Lucía. If he had brought his guitar in, I think all the students would have been doing the flamenco!

What was Ingmar’s aim? To look at the “grammar box”. He might have read Scrivener from cover to cover, but grammar isn’t exactly his strongest point, poor Ingmar. But, it was only 20 minutes, and he got away with it.

By the time it got to my turn, the students had nothing on their minds but home, coffee, or the arms of their loved ones. There’s still 20 minutes to go, you all!

Can you imagine an engine that’s been revving for 100 minutes? Well, that was me. Release the brakes and off I went, down the rollercoaster at 95. Mph, not kph. I had a plan, though it wasn’t required of us for this TP, which was just as well. I don’t really remember what I did – maybe my mates do and will comment – wishful thinking – but the plan went out the window. I think I felt the students didn’t quite grasp the meaning of have/have got and I took it from there.

I also think this taking off from where the previous teacher left would, in the future, get me in “trouble” as diverting from the written stage plans wasn’t looked too kindly upon. My priority was and is always the students, plan or not; it’s inbred, period.

I don’t understand that something that ought to be valued, in my humblest of opinions, gets quite the reverse reaction from the trainers.

Analysis on assessment and feedback on these lessons coming up on the next post!

Assignment 1: Focus on the learner

by celtaconfessions

I know there are many potential CELTA trainees perusing this blog, so this one is especially for you.

I’ll take it that you’ve seen my previous assessment reviews, the third part of which can be seen here, which looked at the written assignments and how they are assessed.

One of the major problems for trainees is the amount of information to be digested on the first day: names (of trainers, fellow trainees, first students), administration (photocopier, computers, paperwork), timetable (when is lunch? What time do we have to return? What’s happening tomorrow? Where do we go?), input (if you’d read my reflection on the first day, you’d see that there was an awful lot going on), etc, etc.

Now, I guess it doesn’t matter as much if you’re part of the “normal” lot and belong to a group of 12 where you need to change level/students only once in the four weeks, meaning you have more time to get to know your students. But, if you’re like us in this course, where there were 18 of us, and we had to change levels twice, and, bear in mind that on the day before we change level, we start observing our new class, this meant that we had very little time with the first group of students.

To paint you a clearer picture, this was our first week:

Day 1: pandemonium – you hardly know your left from your right.

Day 2: everyone does a TP of 20 minutes each.

Day 3: Teachers 1, 2 and 3 give 40-minute lessons (with stage plans only).

Day 4: Teachers 4, 5 and 6 get their turn.

Day 5: Teachers 1, 2 and 3 give 40-minute lessons (with stage plans & full lesson plans).
Teachers 4, 5 and 6 CHANGE CLASS AND START OBSERVING THEIR NEXT LEVEL!

Day 6: teachers swap, meaning Teachers 1-3 change level.

So, what does that mean? It means, realistically speaking, we had THREE DAYS to analyse our students! And what’s assignment 1? Focus on the learner. Task? Interview the students, observe them, write up a portfolio, etc. I’ll touch on this later.

And all this to be handed in by early week 2! No wonder, a lot of us were on the brink of a breakdown.

And, you’re not told about the assignment until at least day 2, maybe even later. Not to overload your senses, I suppose.

So, my advice is to GET TO KNOW YOUR STUDENTS as soon as possible, from day ONE!

CELTA students

Image by Chiew Pang; available for request to licence

Let’s take a look at assignment one in detail.

You’ll need to:

The grid you’ll have to complete includes the following information:

  • name & age
  • job & studies
  • reasons for learning English
  • language learning background
  • student’s opinion of their strengths & weaknesses in English
  • contact with English outside classroom
  • preferred class & activity types

In detail, here are the sections of assignment 1:

  • Learning Background. Where and for how long have they studied English? Have they learned any other languages? Have they lived or studied abroad? Give examples.
  • Motivation. Why are the students learning English? Which reasons given are examples of intrinsic motivation, and which are extrinsic? Are all the students equally motivated to learn? How is this reflected in the classroom? Give examples.
  • Learning styles. What do you perceive to be the dominant learning styles within the group, Visual, Auditory or Kinaesthetic? Is there much variation amongst the individual members of the class? Give examples.
  • Learning preferences. What types of classroom activities do the students like? What do they dislike? Give examples.
  • Specific problems and suggested solutions (language related AND pronunciation related): identify specific problems which are common to several of the students. You must include a piece of published material for at least one of the problems below. You may also include your own ideas or materials.
  • Skills: individual strengths and weaknesses. For the following skills areas (reading, writing, speaking and listening) identify two students who are strong and two students who are weak (in total, write about four different students).
  • Conclusion: How successful do you think these students will be as language learners? Do you think any will be more or less successful? What advice would you give to other trainees who are going to teach this class?

They expect you to complete this whole assignment in fewer than 1000 words – I don’t think anyone did it, to be honest.

I completed my assignment in time, under a lot of duress. Speak to your group from day one, get each of you to concentrate on a few students, then share your notes. Otherwise, you’ll be in for a hard time.

I didn’t pass the first time, but fortunately, I only had to add another idea (which, of course, added more to the word count, so the 1000-word limit is a joke, really). I passed the resubmission without any problems.

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

Big Questions in ELT by Scott Thornbury

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