CELTA Course: Week 5

[Missed the first four weeks? Click the week to read about it: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4]

Monday: A., G., and Ir. taught a lesson on future perfect vs. future continuous forms. Each lesson had some good parts but each person struggled a bit with things like answering unexpected questions, structuring time, and explaining tasks. That said, my colleagues did well and it was useful grammar review for me!

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Tuesday: We spent the first hour observing “live” lessons taught by certified Oxford House College teachers. D, S and I observed Rico teach a level 5 (upper-intermediate) class that is preparing for the Cambridge First Certificate in English (FCE) exam. Rico said that all the grammar should be a review for the students, but he told us that this particular class still had some things to learn. The segment we observed had the students working on creating word forms by adding prefixes and suffixes (dis-, un-, im-, etc) to the roots (e.g., collect-er). Then the students had some review work with reported speech (“He said that…”; “She instructed him to…“). Rico had a nice, active teaching style and was able to come up with example sentences and explanations on-the-spot when students asked questions (for example, they didn’t understand the difference between unaware and unknown so he threw up two sentences and asked CCQs about them).

After observation, we had a classroom session on “controlled practice” activities. These activities — think gap filling or circling the correct word/phrase — come after “guided discovery” and before freer practice in a lesson. Controlled practice is best done in pairs and should help the students understand the form and meaning of the target language (= the grammar/lexis that is being taught in that particular lesson). It was a fun session but to be honest none of us were very focused so Ben went quickly through the example activities he had to show us.

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Thursday: As G, Ir, and I were hanging around before class started, G asked me, “So, are you going to do it again today?” before bragging to one of our classmates from the other teaching group, “Tammela’s gotten ‘above standard’ on every lesson so far; she’s the only one.”

I guess I’ve gained a bit of a reputation. (And yes, I did “do it again” and get above standard on my lesson. The pressure is on to keep up my streak!)

The lesson itself: I taught the first 30 minutes of class, followed by S and then D. After teaching grammar for the past two weeks, for this lesson I got to “engage” the students via some discussion questions and then lead them through a couple of reading tasks, weaving in some lexis teaching as we went along. The theme of the lesson was heroes and the text was about the Trojan War (coincidentally, two Greek students happened to come to class for the first time!). The group of students was really energetic and dynamic, which led to some lively discussion and great questions (as I was leading them through the pronunciation of “heroine,” one woman asked, “Isn’t that also the name of a drug? Do you pronounce the drug’s name in the same way” Yup, same pronunciation!). My lesson went smoothly and the students understood the text well. I really enjoyed myself during this lesson. Bobby’s only “action points” for me were related to teaching the lexis: I need to remember to board a word’s part of speech along with the word itself, I should write the phonemic transcription in a different color, and I should do more correction work when I hear students use incorrect pronunciation.

S taught after me and had the grammar bit, which was about “narrative tenses”: past simple, past continuous, past perfect, and past perfect continuous; the tenses we use to tell stories. She did a great job leading the class through guided discovery and they all seemed to grasp when to use the different tenses. D taught the last section and it was fantastically creative and wonderful. He divided the students into groups and gave each group a big color photo of a fairytale scene; the groups then had to write a summary (using those narrative tenses) of their fairy tale. He even had one group perform “Little Red Riding Hood,” which didn’t have them using the narrative tenses but was hilarious and well-performed all the same. Overall the hour and a half lesson flowed well and I think we and the students got a lot out of it.

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SaturdayFelt like a long day. We had “input sessions” on teaching speaking skills, teaching with authentic materials, verbs (obviously this was my favorite session), and our third assignment. Nothing earth-shattering, though Ben did give us some good ideas for speaking activities.

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Read on for Week 6

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