CELTA: The Teaching Practices

What’s the point?
The aim of the teaching practices, or TPs, is to apply what you’ve learnt in the input sessions. You’ll teach 7-8 lessons, racking up a total of 6 hours of observed and assessed teaching, which seems like a lot, but it really does fly by.

What will I teach?
All of our lessons were based on a dull coursebook. Luckily, we were allowed to deviate from it as much as we pleased. We just had to keep the focus of the lesson (grammar or vocabulary) the same as that in the book. The sequence of exercises and what you did or didn’t do were up to you.

What’s team-teaching?
From day one, you’re split up into groups of 6 and further subdivided into groups of 3. In these groups, you split a 2-hour lesson into three 40-minute parts. When you build up to your 1-hour lesson, you’ll be put into pairs.  On my course, most of my lessons were team collaborations. It’s important to speak up, share your ideas and communicate well with your group. If you don’t, the overall lesson could turn into a disaster and will be confusing to your students. If all goes according to plan, the lessons should a flow seamlessly into each other. Remember to plan and rehearse your transitions together to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

But Esther, I’m still terrified about TPs. Do you have any tips to help me?

Sure I do! Here they are: 

  • Make the most of your preparation time. On my course, I had 2-3 days between each of my lessons. I used my time to analyze the target language with grammar books, adapt and develop materials for activities, anticipate potential problems and their solutions, and to ask for guidance from my tutors and peers.
  • Listen to and observe your students. You’ll learn a lot from them and be able to figure out what activities they like and dislike. Use this information for your next lesson so you don’t bore them to death.
  • Stick to the time limit. When your time’s up, wipe the board, pack your things and make room for the next teacher.  It doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle of a sentence and you haven’t finished your lesson. Get out of there! 
  • Arrive early. Set up the room and chat with early students. Ask them what they did on the weekend or which football team they support. It helps if you’re interested in the answers, but even if you’re not, it’s a good chance for your students to talk to you as a normal person, and not as the English teacher.

Overall, keep focused, find out what’s expected of you, and with a little hard work, you’ll manage to pass all your lessons, like I did. Although, I did start off on the wrong foot…



CELTA: Observations and Feedback

Photo Credit: @Doug88888 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: @Doug88888 via Compfight cc

The idea of observations and feedback is to target the areas you and your peers need to improve on so that you can teach better lessons as the course progresses.

What happens when I’m observing?
You observe your peers’ lessons and hopefully you’ll be able to pick up on things the students really enjoy so you use them in your own lessons. It does get boring at times but you can tune out for the tedious moments. Make sure you look like you’re paying attention, though. Nod your head every now and then – that should do the trick.

What happens when it’s my turn?
While you’re up there playing teacher, your peers and your trainer watch and take notes. Your trainer also reads through your plan and evaluates your performance. It’s odd to look back and have 6 pairs of beady eyes staring at your every move in silence, but once you get past your third lesson, you won’t even notice them anymore. Don’t panic (like I did), focus on your lesson and most of all, focus on your students’ reactions and respond to them naturally.

When you’re done, you’ll write a short statement about your performance. Then, your trainer writes their comments alongside yours, but doesn’t show it to you until after feedback, where the group goes over what went well with your lesson and the areas that could be improved i.e. what you screwed up. Dealing with criticism is difficult no matter how constructive it is. Try not to take it personally, but look at it as a way to ace your next lesson. Dwelling on the negative will only set you back, and there’s very little time to waste on this course.

Here are a few things you’ll be evaluated on:

  • Classroom management – How do you deal with troublemakers? How do you group your students? How do you stage fluency activities to maximise student participation?
  • Rapport – Do your students seem comfortable with you and do you get along with them well?
  • Teacher talk – Do you ramble on unnecessarily? Can you give great instructions? Can you grade your language to suit your students’ level?
  • Teacher voice – Do you speak audibly and clearly?
  • Effectiveness of activities – Do your activities help your students learn the target language?
  • Learner engagement – Are your students engrossed in your activities or are they bored and waiting for your lesson to end?
  • Conveying and checking meaning– How do you present new language? Do you ask good CCQs?
  • Modelling – Are you good at demonstrating intonation and pronunciation?
  • Correcting learner language – Do you correct on-the-spot or do you wait until the end of the lesson to bring it up?

In your day-to-day TEFL life, you’ll only be observed sporadically and the feedback you receive may not be as thorough as it is on the CELTA so make the most of it while you can!

CELTA: The Students

Student 1: Teacher, teacher! Where you go to school?
Me:  Wales!  Does anyone know the capital of Wales?
Student 2: DOLPHIN!



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My First 20-Minute Lesson

Disaster. I can’t think of a better way to describe it. I wish I could say it went swimmingly and my trainers and peers praised me until the cows came home. But no, I’m afraid disaster does sum it up nicely.

So what exactly went wrong? Continue reading

CELTA: The Application

A typical application starts with questions on your personal and contact details, your education history and recent professional experience. Then, you’re asked to write a statement about your motivations and what you intend to do with your certification.

Next, is where the real fun starts – the application task itself.

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