Post-CELTA Confessions

Aspiring to be a better teacher

Tag: “lesson plan”

Week 2, Day 2: The dreaded 20-minute TP

by celtaconfessions

Yes, I dread these 20-minute TPs – not much can be achieved in such a short space of time. By the time you’ve warmed up, your time’s up; and if you’re coming after someone else (as I tend to do), what you do may be unrelated to the previous “lessons”, thus making the morning a very disjointed affair.

However, as I’d mentioned in my last post, the three of us would be attempting to work together to try to deliver a seamless lesson. It was a refreshing change to have Ts 1, 4 and 6 followed by Ts 5, 3 and 2 instead of the usual 1-6 consecutive order.

So it was that Hatty went first, followed by Al, and then, the resident top-of-the-bill, namely me. Haha. It’s amazing how I was always at the end of the pack…

20-minute TP on CELTA

Hatty on being successful. Copyright 2012 Chiew Pang

We were to do one of these survey-personality test – you can see it in the previous post. Hatty would do the reading-vocabulary, Al would get them to actually do the test, and I would get them to calculate their score and get them talking.

I’d prepare a PowerPoint and my warmer was to ask them 3 questions:

  1. Do you think your assessment is fair?
  2. Do you think this is a good test to assess personality?
  3. Which are the most/least useful question? Why?

I’d also prepare some images of successful people.

To be honest, I didn’t really like what I’d prepared because I wasn’t in control of what would happen before I came on. Much would depend on what Al did and where he’d stop…

With the experience of what’d happened to me in the first 20-minute TP, when I decided at the spur of the moment to divert from my stage plan, this time, I “cleverly” wrote down my introduction like this:

Why? To initiate rapport with the students.
What? T introduces himself and carries on from the previous lesson.

Cheeky, huh? Haha.

As it happened, I frigging did it again. I couldn’t help it, could I? Al was going on about being truthful and lying on these tests, so when he finished, instead of doing what I’d prepared, I went off-the-cuff again. It just felt so right. I wrote, if I remember, three sentences on the board, one of which was a lie. I told the students to guess which the lie was.

They lapped it up. Rapport was established and they were very animated.

I told you I’m not made for these 20-minute TPs. My aim was to get them talking and talking was what they did. But, of course, my timing went out the window. When you’re doing a course like this, you have to play their game. They are big on aims, they are big on control. I hate stopping students when they’re having fun speaking! To cut a long story short, I rushed at the end because I suddenly realised that if I wanted to pass this practice, I’d have to fulfil my “aims”!

What a disaster.

Consequently, I received my first Ns – one for conveying meaning in context (I wasn’t clear about what this referred to) and the other was for presenting materials with professional appearance and copyright requirements. I’d made reference to this latter point somewhere else in this blog, in one of my many rants. Why did I get an N? Because I didn’t use any materials! The students already had the test handout from Hatty. I had no need for the PowerPoint I’d prepared. The proper grading should have been non-applicable, surely? I can only assume that IH CLIC does not dish out NAs like some other centres. Beats me.

However, to compensate, Ceri gave me S+ on establishing rapport and developing motivation, and providing appropriate practice activities. At least she recognised my warmer for what it was! There’s hope here!

My thoughts

I was relieved that there would be no more 20-minute TPs after this. I wonder if those courses dealing with only two levels – and I think these are more the norm than our 18-trainees, three-levels course – would only have one 20-minute TP and not two like us. I’m the first to admit that I don’t control these mini-TPs very well, at least, not to CELTA’s criteria.

What was good, however, was that we worked together and our three lessons appeared more like one lesson with three different teachers.

My advice: Twenty minutes go by quite fast, really. Be sure to know your aims clearly. When planning your timing, remember to add time for giving instructions. Monitor well, and slot in a PACS. It’s not easy to fail, so try to enjoy it, establish rapport with your students, and don’t worry about the grading, which is quite ridiculous. In 20 minutes, the trainer has to grade you on 20+ items! Not for the faint-hearted!


Day three, part 2

by celtaconfessions

Tutor explained point by point what we had to do for the first assignment. I’ve already covered this, so I won’t do it again. If you haven’t read it, go here.

We were introduced to our portfolios, and tutor went through each section. We started filling out some parts.

We then looked at the lesson plan. We were given three samples: discreet item (DI), TBL (task-based learning) and skills. I had already looked at lesson planning here. What I might have forgotten to mention was that the post-lesson evaluation needed to be completed before the feedback session. This meant that the last person teaching had the least amount of time to finish this task.

Advice: do the language analysis first, not last. This will help you plan your lesson – it may throw up possible problems which you may have been unaware of, and which may need to be addressed. In other words, don’t just follow the coursebook! I never followed the coursebook anyway, so I didn’t have this problem; in fact, I hardly ever looked at them throughout the whole course (in the last level, I’d even left the coursebook in class), which perhaps worked against me since Cambridge, after all, is a publisher, and they would like (us?) to sell their books! 😉

During the rest of the day, Ian did guided lesson planning with teachers 1, 2 and 3. I think he talked to teachers 4, 5, and 6 regarding the following day’s lessons. I have no records of this.

Day 2, Part 3: Lesson Planning

by celtaconfessions

Basically, the course is divided in two sessions – pre-lunch and post-lunch. We would have our teaching practice in the morning, then a short coffee break, and followed by group feedback with the tutor. After lunch, we’d have what they called “input sessions” – we often have two of these, which are “lessons” by the three trainers.

Depending on your teaching experience and knowledge of the language, some of these can be interesting while others are better used as opportunities to get to know the other trainees, those that aren’t in your group, or even those in your same group as, honestly, you wouldn’t have many chances to speak to your classmates during the morning sessions.

For our first TP (the 20-minute ones), we didn’t need to have any plans (to be graded, anyway). For the second (40-minute sessions), we had to prepare a stage plan. For the third TP on, a full lesson plan and stage plan are required, except for the first TP after a level change. This 20-minute lesson required only a stage plan.

So, for our first input session, Ian guided us through lesson planning the CELTA way.

CELTA trainers teaching trainees by Chiew Pang

Copyright 2012 Chiew Pang

The stage plan is usually 2-pages long, and here is where you set out the aims and procedures and the estimated timing. The trainer will compare this with your actual lesson, writing notes and jotting down his reactions and suggestions.

Example of a CELTA stage plan from Chiew Pang


The lesson plan is normally about 8-10 pages long and here is where you do all the detailed analysis. For this, let’s go back to Ian’s input session.


We were given three sentences and we had to analyse

  • what they mean (MEANING)
  • their grammatical structure (FORM)
  • how they are pronounced (PRONUNCIATION)
  • and possibly their APPROPRIACY (register: formal/informal)

These give rise to the (in)famous CELTA acronym MFPA.

Apart from these, we were also told to predict what problems they might have with all of the above. We didn’t have to prepare the solutions as we would see these in the example lesson plan.

We worked in groups and looked at these sentences:

  • You shouldn’t have taken your wallet with you.
  • You could have carried just a little money in your pocket.
  • They would have taken your mobile if they had seen it.

Then, we were given some grammar exercises to do. Mmm, all right if you need the practice. We have to understand, of course, that CELTA trainees are often a mixed bunch, ranging from the total novice to very experienced professionals. Talk about mixed-level classes!


We looked at the teacher’s lesson plan, which had these details:

  • basic details: name of teacher, length of class, level, date…
  • approach: discrete item, TBL, functional/situational, skills
  • topic/theme of the lesson
  • aims and subsidiary aims of the lesson
  • personal aims
  • sources of materials
  • language analysis (MFPA)
  • written record (what will students get?)
  • problems and solutions
  • other issues (e.g. non-language related problems)

It is worth noting – and I hadn’t realised until much later and which provided such an ecstatic relief – that all the lesson plans are evaluated as assignment 2 (it might be a different number in your school). Also, and no examples of this part were given to us, as far as I recall, after each lesson, we had to do a post lesson evaluation. This forms assignment 4, part 1.

What were in this post-lesson evaluation? We had to answer these following questions:

  • How successful were you at meeting your main aims?
  • And the subsidiary aims? (A good reason why you shouldn’t go overboard with the aims!)
  • How accurate were your anticipated problems?
  • How successful were your solutions?
  • What other problems did students have that you didn’t anticipate?
  • If you were to teach the same lesson again, what would you change?
  • What did you learn from teaching this lesson?
  • Did you improve on the personal aims you set?
  • What areas do you need to work on in the future?

Example of a CELTA lesson plan from Chiew Pang

For the second input session, we watched a video of the teacher herself giving the lesson.


My reaction:

For the first time, we saw what they expected from us in terms of planning and personal evaluation. The lesson plans were quite time-consuming because not only did you have to think of what you were going to teach and the materials you would use, but you also had to do the MFPA analysis and the problem-solution bits. Your anticipated problems have to be related to the lesson aims and you can’t just fill the pages with all your worries of what the students may come up with.

Like I mentioned before, these afternoon sessions gave me a chance to work with the other trainees. On this session, I think I worked with Hatty & Ingmar; subsequently, we hardly coincided again, if at all. So, I enjoyed this part of the day, practically the only time I had the chance to socialise a little, my regret being that I didn’t take better advantage and I didn’t start taking photos until much later. 😦 All because I was afraid of being seen as INTRUSIVE.


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