CELTA Course: Week 9

[Need to catch up? Read about Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, and Week 8]

MondayLast 30-minute lesson. It was above standard again (7 for 8…hope I can keep it up for the last two lessons!), but something about the class dynamic coupled with Ben’s feedback style leaves me unsatisfied with the lessons. Maybe because Ben is really good at pointing out very small details to work on in my teaching — this is great, of course, but sometimes it leaves me feeling a bit bummed. But we all taught nice lessons tonight; S. would’ve been above standard if she had gotten her lesson plan in before teaching, and D. did an amazing job grading his language down to the pre-intermediate level, earning him an above standard. My action points for next week’s hour lesson are:

  • board lexis in more detail (include word class, stress, difficult sounds, collocations & patterns)
  • drill more systematically
  • speaking tasks: elicit and board ideas and useful language to scaffold the task
  • maintain motivation through challenge, cooperation, and/or competition

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TuesdayLast live observation. D., S., and I observed Makkie teach a CPE (Certificate of Proficiency in English) exam class. This is one of the highest qualifications that a non-native speaker can achieve. The students’ exam was the next day, so Makkie spent some time going over the criteria and having them practice for the speaking segment. She was clear, calm, and measured in her teaching style.

After observation, we had an input session with Ben about nouns. We spent some time talking about definite and indefinite, countable and uncountable nouns. Ben’s main point was that nouns are horribly undervalued and under-taught. There are so many components to using nouns and they trip up non-native speakers much more than verbs do.

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Thursday: Observing G., Ir., and A. teach their last 30-minute lessons. They had a tough group of students; 12 actually showed up, which was great since we haven’t had a full class since we started teaching the pre-intermediates. But there were quite a few Italians who kept speaking Italian to each other and disrupting the class. A. taught one of his best lessons; he was engaged with the students and they responded well to his energy. G.’s lesson was really nice; she had a solid grasp of the grammar (separable and inseparable phrasal verbs) that she was teaching. Ir. did well, too, though I found his last activity a bit messy.

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Saturday: Long day of input sessions. The first 2-hour session was the most useful. It was on errors, feedback, and interlanguage. Interlanguage is a cool term: it’s a mixture of two languages that isn’t quite one or the other. For example, a foreign language translated word-for-word into English will technically be English words, but the syntax and expressions might be a bit funky (“Budapest says hello with arms that are spread-eagled”) so it is interlanguage. The meaning might still be understood, but it’s still not correct English. We talked a lot about giving feedback in this session, since that is a large part of what we do as English teachers. There are myriad techniques for error correction and feedback:

  • reformulation
  • facial expressions (highlighting)
  • non-verbal sounds (highlighting)
  • gesture (highlighting & prompting)
  • questioning intonation
  • pretend to misunderstand (with humor?)
  • correction codes (writing)
  • peer correction
  • fingers (show where the mistake is in the sentence)
  • giving options
  • CCQs (Concept Checking Questions)
  • board use
  • metalanguage (word class, syntax, etc.)

Our other two sessions were on language and metaphor and intonation (our last phonology session). The intonation session was good in that it helped us recognize general intonation patterns in English: rising intonation at the beginning of a sentence, falling intonation at the end of a sentence. Intonation is tough for non-native speakers to understand and use correctly, so practicing it requires a lot of repetition and drilling.

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Coming up in Week 10: my first 60-minute lesson, a “skills lesson,” and some more input.

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