Post-CELTA Confessions

Aspiring to be a better teacher

Tag: lesson

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!

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Week 2, day 1, 3rd TP: can I be sued?

by celtaconfessions

For this post, I will summarise my lesson, my third TP. I wasn’t going to do it, but since it was, arguably, my best TP up till this point, I thought it may be of interest to some of you. Freya, it was a shame that both you & Hatty missed this – I would have valued your feedback. The observers (Al, Ingmar, Josh, Phil & David) loved it as so did the students.

This was another 40-minute TP, but with full lesson plan. The aim of the lesson was to have the students practise reading skills where the grammar focus is on the past simple/continuous. It was a good thing that I had the whole weekend to prepare this (although I had to finish off assignment 1, too). The text I was supposed to use was The Perfect Crime from New Headway Pre-Intermediate. It was far far too long, especially for this level and for a 40-minute lesson.

I crunched it by at least half and put line numbers on the left of every 5 sentences. It fitted onto one A4 sheet on Tahoma 11, so that was pretty concise. I won’t load it up here because of copyright issues, but if you wish to have a look at it, email me.

If you remember, I mentioned in a previous post that, again, I would be the last to teach as though I were always the top of the bill, ha ha. That’s the positive way of looking at it, right?

Board work

Neat & tidy board

Lesson

Everyone loved the lead-in. I started with the dramatic soundtrack of Psycho and after a while, in case they still couldn’t identify the music, the famous screenshot of Anthony Perkins with the knife in his hand faded in onto the WB…

My aim was to elicit MURDER.

There were three images in the coursebook. I changed their order, and had them printed (I’d managed to get them off the Internet) onto the handout. On the reverse side of this was my adapted text. The reason for the change was to facilitate the task I set them, which was to predict the story of the text (pair work).

On the other side of the images was the reading text, titled The Perfect Crime. To make sure they understood “crime”, my CCQs were

  • Does crime mean murder? No!
  • Is murder a crime? Yes!
  • Is burglary (alluding to my previous TP with them) a crime? Yes!
  • Meaning: crime is an illegal activity or action. (The Spanish have two words: delito (less serious) and crimen)

I gave them a first-reading set of questions:

  • Did Alice love her husband?
  • Did Henry, Alice’s husband, love her?
  • How many children did they have?

They conferred their responses with their partners first before I told them to turn the page over where the answers were. They checked and compared them with their partners.

Next, I handed them the lexis questions:

  1. What is the word you use to describe a date when you celebrate something that happened in a previous year (lines 1-5).
  1. Find a word between lines 1 and 5 which means “a ceremony in which two people get married”.
  1. Find a word between lines 5 and 10 which means “visit”.
  1. Find an expression between lines 10 and 15 which is used for “emphasizing that you are extremely surprised or angry about something you have seen or heard”.
  1. Find a word between lines 20 and 25 which means an object that can be used to hurt people.

I did the first question with them. They did the rest on their own before checking their answers (on the other side of the handout) with the person next to them. On the answer sheet, I also printed the dictionary definitions, with some examples of further usage.

Pronunciation issues were dealt with at this point.

Next task was a T/F comprehension exercise and they had to justify their false answers. I did the first one with them.

  1. They were married 11 years ago.
  1. They were having a party that evening.
  1. There was a big marble statue in the middle of the living room.
  1. Alice was putting the baby to bed when Henry came home.
  1. The weather was very hot that evening.

Again, they answered the questions, checked them (the correct answers were on the back of the handout) and conferred with their partners.

I ended the lesson with the question:

  • Why was it the perfect crime? Because the murder weapon was destroyed!

Grading

If I had been doubtful of the existence of some form of bias before, this was the lesson that confirmed it. Can I be sued for libel for saying this? The lesson was not perfect by any means, but it was a damn good lesson, especially for a third TP. I hate to sound arrogant, but I’m very self-critical as you can see in some of my posts in The Dogme Diaries. NOT A SINGLE S+! The minimum I’d expected was a superior grading on the material I spent the whole weekend preparing: well-adapted text, self-penned questions, astounding lead-in, copyright information clearly laid out on handouts and on the slides…

It was highly demotivating. I was glad I was changing tutors because it would give me the opportunity to confirm or squash my theory. Unfortunately, the change would only last a week.

What modifications would I make?

  • I would scrap the first-reading questions. I’d remove the title from the handout. I’d introduce a gist-reading activity, which could be any one of these:
    • Write their predictions on the board; after the gist-reading, they decide if their predictions are accurate.
    • Have them think up a title.
    • Give them a choice of, say, 3 titles and they choose the best one.
  • On my answer sheet of the T/F comprehension exercise, I should have put the line numbers so the students could quickly see where they were in the text. I also had the answers on a slide – the line numbers should appear on this, too.
  • Removing the first-reading activity would allow me to add more detailed-reading questions, e.g.:
    • The police suspected that Alice had murdered her husband. (F)
    • The police wanted to find the murder weapon. (T)
    • Alice was an intelligent murderer. (T)
    • Open question: What was the murder weapon? (The ice statue)
  • Ideally, I would finish with a production activity where the students retell the story to each other. I had this on the plan as a back-up, knowing full-well that it would be a miracle if I had time for it.

As I said, not a perfect lesson by any means, but extremely well-controlled – one I would have been proud of in a real environment.

Day 5: The Twilight Zone

by celtaconfessions

As I mentioned in my previous post, on this day, teachers 4, 5 and 6 had to observe the level (in our case, intermediate) they would be changing to on Day 7. I’m not sure how Al and Ingmar took it, but, me, after day 4, which I’d blogged extensively on, I was groping around, disorientated, in the twilight zone.

Part of me was attempting to focus on the trainees in this group (Meghan, Dennis & Sarah Walker) and the students (I started writing their names down), part of me was trying to remain attached to the pre-intermediate group, which I would have to teach the next day and thinking of the lesson plan, yet unfinished, and part of me was helping Sarah to relax – she was a right bundle of nerves! So, while Megan and Dennis were teaching, there was I coaxing her to breathe the proper way, to think positively, etc. I’d like to think I was of help, but I’m not the right person to say it, of course.

Meghan’s lesson was on skills – listening skills. It was something on touring Australia. Meghan, like the others, based her lesson on the coursebook. I thought the listening was tedious; it was quite long, and they listened to it three times: first time for gist, then, for detail, after which they conferred with their partners on their answers, followed by a third listening. By this time, I’d slipped deeper into the Zone, so, sorry, Meghan, I didn’t know if it was for a separate task or not. In a way, it was good that I was helping Sarah as it took my mind off worse things…

classroom, waiting for students

Copyright 2012 Chiew Pang

Meghan was cool and collected, laid back in that oh-so stereotypical Californian style 😉 whereas if it were me, having to go through three listenings, my nerves would have got the better of me. I’d be worried about where the students’ thoughts would be… But, as Ceri mentioned in the feedback, it was me who were having issues with the listenings; the students were fine LOL.

In addition, Meghan gave the impression she had slept with the Ten Commandments under her pillow and delivered her ICQs to perfection ;).

Dennis was up next – how come Seville was full of Americans? 😉 His was a task based lesson, before we had the input, so most of us weren’t aware of the rationale behind the modus operandi. That’s what coursebooks are for, right? 😉

Dennis started by giving his example of an interesting tour, backed by visuals, of New Orleans, his home town, and a hand-drawn map. Language aim was advice and suggestions (I think). A few questions later, and it was the students’ turn to produce their own tour of Seville. I can’t remember if it was a 3 or a 7-day tour.

The lesson went really well, with the group getting very motivated over the map-drawing. Not sure about the language, though ;). Seriously, you could see that the students enjoyed the lesson – shame they didn’t have enough time to finish their project.

Then, up went Sarah. Did I manage to calm her down? What was her lesson aim? I thought it must have been to practise or reinforce the language they’d previously seen with Meghan and Dennis, but later, in the feedback, Ceri said that the main aim was listening, which surprised me.

I thought she did quite well. After the two Americans, she was dynamic and the lesson suited her. There was some pair work, some short listenings, some pronunciation drilling. There was a game of matching, followed by a role-play. Unfortunately, for me, the time left for them to do the role play wasn’t quite enough. They were enjoying it.

After a break, we had global feedback with Ceri. Here were some points which came up:

  • after listening activities, compare answers in pairs.
  • put instructions on the PPT as well as on the handout, if any – not just given out orally.
  • timing – remember FB time. A 5-minute activity could take up 10, if instructions and feedback are added.
  • visual FB – always useful to support FB by board work, on the handout itself, or other visuals.

In the feedback, I clarified with Ceri on her stance on diverting off coursebooks and lesson plans. She gave the impression she was more sympathetic to this as long as there’s good justification. And, at least, she laughed at my jokes. I wish I had her as my main tutor!

Footnote

I didn’t take any photos of the trainees giving the their lessons because I was afraid of being intrusive or unnerving. I was afraid of making them nervous. This was, after all, just day 5, and we hardly knew each other. It was a shame, really.

Day Four: Discrete Item demo Lesson

by celtaconfessions

After the tangential digressions of the past two posts, it’s time to get back to reviewing day four’s input sessions. My ranting and raving might have angered some people perhaps, or might have stimulated some serious thinking; whichever the case, it was quite therapeutic for me. Words are a very important tool, but a tool can be used in many ways; sometimes, they can be put to good use, and sometimes the intention may be good, but they can be misunderstood and backfire. Wars have resulted because of misunderstanding. I have often say that final judgement should be reserved until there’s been a dialogue. Even then, misunderstandings happen. Words can be interpreted in many forms. That’s why I like writing poetry. A single word can have many nuances. Take for example the ‘vessel’ in the title of my last post. I wonder how many of you thought of my choice of word. There were at least three reasons for it, not just one.

Anyway, there I went again – digression. Apologies!

This day’s input session was a demo lesson on adverbs of frequency using the discrete item approach and it was given by Ceri. I wished she was my primary tutor instead of the secondary. She’s quite ‘techy’ in a way and she would have appreciated my audiovisuals more. While we’re on the subject of tutors (oh no, there he goes again!), I have always wondered why we never had a final evaluation/assessment session with our main tutor but we had, instead, a mid-course session with our secondary tutor. It beats me. If we had, perhaps, just perhaps, all my frustrations and rantings could have been avoided. Dialogue. As I said in the first paragraph.

As we trickled in – this was, effectively, out first input session – Ceri asked for, and wrote our names on the WB. I thought this was a neat trick to allow her to address us by name immediately. This is a large room, and had a reversible whiteboard plus an IWB, so equipment-wise, it was fabulous.

Warmer

For the first half of the session, we were acting as “students” while Ceri gave a lesson on the adverbs of frequency. She beamed up the often-quoted Confucius saying, “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” In pairs, we discussed who wrote it and what it means.

That done, she beamed up images of leisure activities and, again in pairs, we had to discuss what the teacher likes doing, and justify our choices.

Bible question: Are we thinking of your hobbies or my hobbies? Chorus: Yours!

Indonesia Handbook by Chiew Pang

Copyright 2012 Chiew Pang

Introducing target language

She had us explaining our choices before she beamed a text on “My hobbies” which goes something like this: In my free time, I often go travelling: at least four times a year. I never play football because…

Conveying/Checking meaning

We then answered questions such as:

  • “Do I like travelling a lot or a little?”
  • “Which word tells you so?”
  • “Which activity do I do the most?”

Following that, we were asked to identify the adverbs (of frequency), and to place them in the most appropriate position on a cline (0-100%).

CCQ: If I go to the café every morning and have coffee every morning, do I sometimes have coffee or do I always have coffee? Chorus: ALWAYS!

Pronunciation

She drilled the adverbs, emphasising on “often” (because there are two ways of pronouncing this).

I wasn’t sure why she did the pronunciation work at this point; I would have thought a better place would be just before the free practice, or maybe, before the controlled practice.

Conveying/Checking form (guided discovery)

  • Adverbs of frequency come BEFORE/AFTER the main verb.
    • e.g, I always go running after work.
  • Adverbs of frequency come BEFORE/AFTER the verb to be.
    • e.g. I’m always happy.

Controlled practice

We did a gap-fill exercise, e.g. I ______ play tennis; two or three times a week. There was also another exercise, which I think we didn’t do, and it was to put the adverb in the right place:

  • I cook the dinner (never)
  • I am very tired (often)
  • I dance badly (always)

Free practice

Again, in pairs, we discussed our own hobbies: where we do them, who with, and most importantly, how often?

ICQ: are we talking of my hobbies or your hobbies? OUR HOBBIES! YAY!!!!

Then, one person/group gives one sentence without saying whose hobby it is and the rest had to guess who they were talking about, e.g. I often go for walks.

PACS

This would have been the PACS session if we had been real learners. She showed some sentences and we had to say if they were correct or incorrect. We did this in pairs, too. I wonder if she would have done it in pairs with real learners, or she would have done it globally.

  • I am playing football always
  • I play tennis sometimes
  • I never going dancing

Note that the second sentence will be corrected at lower levels, but not necessarily at higher levels.

That was the demo lesson. We went back to being teachers after that, and started discussing the lesson.

We agreed that the lesson was intended for elementary or pre-intermediate level. Because of this, the lesson tends to be more visual and the language is sometimes not very natural. At very low levels, grammar is put across more prescriptively and diversion from the coursebook is not advised because it can confuse the students.

Lesson Framework

The stages for a discreet item lesson basically progresses from presentation to practice:

  • Lead-in/warmer
    • to engage students
    • to establish topic/context
    • to enable students to bring their external knowledge of the topic and the language to the lesson (activate their schemata)
  • Introduce target language
    • to introduce the target language into the lesson
  • Convey and check meaning
    • to highlight the meaning of the target language
    • to check students’ understanding of it
  • Convey and check form
    • to highlight the form of the target language
    • to check students’ understanding of it
  • Pronunciation (floating)
    • to practise the pronunciation of the target language
  • Controlled or semi-controlled practice (oral or written)
    • to practise the meaning and form of the target language
  • Free(r) practice (oral or written)
    • to provide students with an opportunity to practise the target language in a free way
    • to allow students to discuss the topic of the lesson
  • PACS – Language feedback (in pairs → whole class)
    • to provide students with corrections on the language produced
    • to provide students with correct examples of language produced

5 ways

There are 5 different ways of introducing or revising language

  • via examples

Examples of target language are introduced, and from this, students establish rules by means of guided discovery.

  • via text

The context is provided in the form of a reading or listening text. General procedures for a receptive skills lesson is followed.

  • via rules

A set of rules is given, and students look at examples and identify the rules.

  • via situation

A context, which contains examples of the target language, is built by using images, mime, story, etc.

  • via TTT (test-teach-test)

Students are “tested” to see how much they already know about the target language. What they are unsure of is taught. They are tested again.

Verdict

I’m not convinced as to the usefulness of the first part of this session. OK, it’s always interesting to watch another teacher at work, but using us as the students felt comical at times, especially with the corny ICQs and CCQs. I thought it was too long for the benefit we reaped and would have preferred more time to be spent on showing us/discussing the five different ways.

Any comments?

Day Four: a guest post, + taking a stand on the stand

by celtaconfessions

Those of you who have read Day Four, I was left to hang would have noticed that I left out the tutor’s criticisms of me, claiming them too hurtful. Perhaps I was exaggerating a little, but I have my reasons. Freya, one of the other trainees in my group thought it unfair of me to “criticise” the others but not myself. I thought she had a point. I’ve been wanting others to voice their opinions for long enough and have said so enough times too, so I jumped at the chance and told her straight out, “Why don’t you write it?” I claimed that I wouldn’t be objective enough. Since the tutor wasn’t playing fair with me, in my humble opinion, I’d refused to repeat all the things he’d pointed out.

Needless to say, I was over the moon when Freya accepted! It’s short, but better than nothing! Thanks Freya!

Freya says…

As Chiew mentions in his post about this lesson, he was the final teacher of that morning, a difficult job considering the fact that students had been there since 10am without a break (it would be 11.20am by the time Chiew started teaching) and although it was the first week of October, this is southern Spain, and the mercury was still hitting 35C most days.

These factors combined, the class was a tad sleepy and energy levels were definitely low.

Chiew responded very well to this – if I remember correctly, he asked all of the students to stand up (everyone seems a bit sleepy = introduce some kinaesthetic learning asap!) and asked them to sit down when he said the time they had woken up that morning. He began at 7am, listing times in 15 or 30 minute intervals until everyone was seated. A simple task but it was great as it got students out of their seats and gave them a chance to revise the time. Even if it wasn’t directly related to the topic of the lesson it certainly engaged everyone, woke them up a bit and helped build a good rapport.

Chiew then moved on to the main part of the lesson, revising regular and irregular past simple forms. The students enjoyed the lesson and definitely got something from it. One of the things I think could have been improved was during the “test” part of the lesson, where the teacher tests the students’ prior knowledge (especially important during the CELTA course as you don’t know what the students have learnt before), Chiew only selected 3 students to give examples of regular/irregular past forms. Contrary to what I would have thought before teaching, most (if not all) of the students are keen to share their answers and will always want to know if their answers are correct, therefore it was a shame that Chiew didn’t get feedback from all of them.

I enjoyed the story that Chiew chose for the students to work with and thought he created interest in it very well, initially showing just a photograph and the title and asking them to try to predict what the story was about. Chiew had also pre-prepared visual aids to help with some definitions [I’ve written in my notes that you showed the students a picture of a purse when one of them asked what it was, apologies if this never happened!] Although this was helpful, it meant that Chiew didn’t elicit a definition from the students – this would have been a good opportunity to ask the group if any of them knew what a purse was, and encourage them to use the English words they knew to explain the meaning to their peers. The image then could have been showed to the group for clarification if anyone was still unsure of what a purse was.

Chiew replies…

Thanks, Freya, for your contribution, and, with your permission, I’d like to comment on a few points.

I remember the kinaesthetic activity; what I didn’t remember was that I did it in this lesson and that I’d use “the time I’d woken up” prompt. I suppose it must have been very much in my mind – all those 5am starts…

On my stage plan, I’d written the warmer as “to ask about the previous two lessons, to ask what they’d learned…” but I recalled that they looked as though they were ready to go back to bed, or to head to the nearest pool. They had hardly engaged in any speaking activities; they’d hardly moved; they’d sat through reading and listening tasks and I wasn’t about to add to their agony by some god-almighty grammar explanations! So I said sod it to the stage plan. That was the first and last time I did that with Ian’s class. At a later date, I would try it once again with Ceri, but that was the very last time I veered from my (written) plan during the course.

CELTA, to me, is a bit Govish in its attitude; it’s like going back to rote-learning and you aren’t encouraged to think on your feet, make changes as you see fit to adapt to the students in the class at that particular time. It’s about planning and sticking to your plan. Real-life teaching is very different to the CELTA training practice. You liked that activity, didn’t you, Freya? You saw how the class reacted, being the observant teacher you are. I decided on the activity a minute before I stood up to take the stand. I wasn’t going to be the lamb about to be slaughtered. It was a no-win situation. From one point of view. Either I get slaughtered for sending the students to sleep or I get slaughtered for veering from the plan. I chose the latter. Because I knew I’d win with the students, which I’d placed on a higher pedestal than CELTA’s rigidity. Of course, as we neared the closing stages, I wasn’t going to risk not passing and became more like what they wanted.

Ian didn’t mention this change of plan on the feedback session, but remarked it on paper.

But, you know something else? Perhaps even you had failed to notice… the activity wasn’t only to get their blood circulating, but also to subtly get their minds into ‘past’ mode: What time did I/you/she wake up? I woke up early. No, earlier than that. Irregular past. Interrogative. Past auxiliary. Comparative. 2-syllable comparative ending in -y.

No, Ian didn’t notice that. Or, at least, didn’t want to.

I could have done the whole 40-minute class using this activity alone. Probably. And chucked the lesson plan out the window. And still achieved the aim. This isn’t being arrogant – I apologise if it appears that way. I’m just saying real life is about adaptability. About knowing your students. Example: I could get them into pairs or groups and they could say something like, “If you drank more than 3 beers last night, touch your nose with your left elbow”. [Your left elbow, Al, your left! Sorry. Couldn’t resist that! ;-)] Just think of the fun (and the language). They would have forgotten about the heat.

Image beers in a bucket by Chiew Pang

More than 3 beers… Copyright 2012 Chiew Pang

Anyway. Too much said. Onto the next point.

The “test”. Ah, yes, the test. This was one area where I goofed BIG TIME. You are right, Freya, and I would have gone through the whole test…in real life. It took me three random verbs to know that they didn’t have problems. So I moved on. Reason: one of my aims was to prove to CELTA that I could stick to the timing. And I did. 40 minutes to the second. But, this came at a price, and one of this was, not so much that I didn’t go through the whole test, but I’d forgotten to tell them that the answers were on the back of the handout! I swore I believed I’d told them, but apparently, I didn’t! And Ian repeated this enough times in the feedback to make sure it registered in everyone’s minds. It was a mistake for which I didn’t forgive myself, and I spent the following few days thinking how I could have missed it, but in real life, it wouldn’t have mattered the slightest. I’d bring it up in the next lesson, period. With Ian, it was like I’d forgotten to cross all my Ts in my final test paper.

Maybe you’ll all look at me very critically, but still, I’ll say this: other trainees have made mistakes like this before (and after), and I have recordings to prove this, but he’d say, ok, you forgot that, but it was in your plan, so that’s ok. You achieved your aim. That’s good. Good lesson. Well done.

Next point. The purse. Yes, I did show it on a visual. I had anticipated this so I’d prepared the image. I thought it was enough to show them this rather than spend talking time on this non-blocking lexis. I did, however, think it useful to point out the differences between UK and US usage, but Chris poured cold water over that one! LOL. According to him, US say the same: a handbag’s a handbag, a purse is a purse.

More criticisms

OK, Freya, you win. I’ll mention a few more “awfulness” that you’d missed (maybe on purpose?) but with my justifications.

Although Ian mentioned “clear instructions” in the overall comment section, further down the page he said, “slow down your speech when giving instructions, ss had difficulty understanding some.” No doubt he was right. However, it was probably towards the end when I had an eye on the ticking clock approaching 12…

In the feedback session, and this hurt, he himself said it that others had done the same (but surprise, surprise, he hadn’t mentioned it in any of the feedbacks before, and after all the bad things he’d said, he chose to tell me, in my session, adding salt to the wound: AVOID using “Do you understand?” Avoid asking “What are you going to do?”  (For more maxims, read The Ten Commandments)

There’s more. I hadn’t anticipated someone asking “Is burglar the same as thief?” Another goof. I should have been prepared for this. I knew this was an issue, so I had no excuse. I stumped at that moment. In my defence, others have made more serious errors, such as wrong grammatical explanations, but no word of them was mentioned during feedback. The tutor had his reasons I guess. But it beats me.

You want more?

I should have written instructions on my second worksheet. Obvious as they were, I still should have done so. Point taken. But, same as above – he should have said the same for the other trainees, too.

Then, there’s the game. Remember? The observers at the back read a past simple verb, students (who were divided into three groups) wrote them down. When they’ve finished writing all the verbs, one from each group then came up to the WB to write their list. I thought this went well. The students moved, and had a great time. But, again, this was shot down. Quote: CONFUSION, CONFUSION, CONFUSION! INSTRUCTIONS WERE VERY QUICK AND NOT CLEARLY UNDERSTOOD!

I don’t remember this. Maybe I did rush through the instructions – I blame the clock. But point is, they understood me, didn’t they? Or they wouldn’t have been able to play the game. So? Because I repeated the instructions? SO GODDAM WHAT? They were complicated instructions for this level. Did I achieve my aim? Yes. They listened, they spoke, they moved, they read… They realised the difficulty in understanding some past simple verbs and I demonstrated how the same word could sound different depending on the speakers – I got them to hear some words spoken in a Southern British, Kiwi, Australian, American, and my own peculiar British-influenced global accent.

And, to cap it all, in spite of there not being enough time to do everything I’d done, especially if I were to slow everything down a further notch, he said I could have done another activity… for them to discover the rules for forming past simple forms! That would take another 20 minutes, for crying out loud!

There you go, Freya. Now, do you see why I didn’t want to do this in the first instance? I knew I wouldn’t be able to control myself. Now, I’ve let it all out.

If any of you have anything to say, I’m all ears.

What would I change…

if I had this lesson again? The warmer will remain ad hoc – depends on the students at the time of the lesson.

Yes, I would definitely remember to tell them that the answers are on the back of the test. Would I do the whole test? Maybe, maybe not. There were only 12 verbs, so I might do them all – much depends on the timing, how long I spend on the warmer. Lots of learning can be done in the warmer stage, too, and when students are having fun while learning at the same time, well, I never stop them.

I’d try to give even clearer instructions, but if I had to repeat them, that’s cool. It’s listening practice. As regards the game instruction being confusing, I honestly don’t remember it being so, but if I noticed it, I could do a demonstration with a couple of verbs first.

I’d make sure I know how to explain the difference between a burglar, robber, thief, etc.; in any case, if we had to have a full lesson plan prepared, it would have come up in the language analysis. Remember that at this stage, we had only to prepare a stage plan.

I would include instructions in all exercises, regardless of how obvious they are.

Guided discovery? No, definitely not. Not with this schedule. At a later date, I did do a guided discovery with Ceri , in Intermediate, in a 60-minute lesson – and she loved it, but that’s for a future post.

Postscript

I’d like to thank Freya again for her contribution. It was much appreciated. Now if any of you (since only about 6 from my course read my stuff, I’m addressing to all the rest of you from all over the world, trainees, past, present or future, even trainers…) would like to contribute your point of view, drop me a line – it would give me tremendous pleasure.

Thanks for reading!

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