Saturday, 14 January 2017

CELTA Written Assignment: Lessons from the classroom

Teaching Strengths

1.     Setting up activities

Before the CELTA course, I used to struggle a lot with setting up activities. I had to repeat some instructions many times and quite often I saw that my students looked puzzled. During the input session with Barbara, I learnt how to successfully set up an activity. During TP sessions, I noticed how fellow trainees Katie and Cristina used ICQs and demoed the activities and I tried to do it during my lessons. At the beginning I always forgot about something but eventually I’ve managed to do it all. My students have been able to follow my instructions and by using ICQs I was sure that they really knew what to do. During Tutorial 2, I was told that setting up activities is one of my main strengths.

2.     Lesson planning

I never prepared detailed lesson plans, I honestly considered them a waste of time. However, I changed my mind while observing fellow trainees teaching. I realised that a good plan means a very well organised lesson. The more detailed the plan the smaller the possibility of being asked a question we are not prepared for. After observing one of the DVD lessons (If I found a little money…), we were given a lesson plan and I realised that it’s a very good idea to include CCQs, ICQs and form checking questions. I noticed during TP sessions that when Katie included her ICQs in the lesson plan she always used them. So I decided to do the same. My tutor commented on how I used my CCQs included in the lesson plan during the TP feedback. Having a well thought plan has helped me overcome my initial stress and move smoothly from one activity to another.

3.     Language analysis

Even though I studied linguistics I never used the knowledge to analyse the language I teach. After observing fellow trainees, Cristina and Ewa, I realised it is important to adjust the language in the classroom  to the learner group and the context (CELTA 5 – 2a).  I started paying more attention to the language I use and analyse more carefully the language in terms of form and meaning. Also, my tutor has highlighted during Tutorial 2 that I’ve worked well on providing clear context and a communicative context for language which led to “meaningful communicative practice of TL”. Thanks to analysing the language I am about to teach I feel more confident during TP sessions and know what kind of problems I can encounter during the lesson which I find very useful.

Development needs

1.     Using too much TTT

Before CELTA course I didn’t know what TTT was and that I definitely overused it. I’ve been working on reducing TTT, especially echoing, but so far I haven’t stopped doing it. I should apply some of the techniques that I observed while watching experienced teachers. During the demo class for the trainees, Declan and Peter used praising students instead of repeating the answer for them. Also, I should elicit more and ask for more justifications from students as I could see in the DVD with Nick (lesson about listening and phonology). Finally, I could use more gestures, for example to show pair work which I saw during TP sessions, for example Cristina uses it very naturally.

2.     Monitoring and error correction

I am a very passive teacher while monitoring. During TP feedback my tutor has suggested that I should interact more at times and I should be more helpful. During TP sessions, I noticed that Nigel and Katie observe students closely and they use of a lot of on-the-spot correction. Something I should definitely include while monitoring. Also, while observing experienced teachers, I noticed how Declan approached students and how Peter used white colour to write students’ mistakes on the board without interrupting the activity. I would like to copy these techniques during my future lessons.

3.     Teaching pronunciation

I am extremely self-conscious about my pronunciation and it visibly affects the way I teach it. In almost every tutor observation notes I can read that I need to focus more on drilling, don’t skip it and use a varied range of drills. During DVD observations, I could see how to use fingers to teach students contractions and connected speech. Later on I had an opportunity to see Ewa, one of the trainees, use this technique during drilling and it worked very well. I would also like to practice drilling in a more friendly atmosphere. During Tutorial 2 it’s been suggested that I sometimes sound like  barking dog. I would definitely like to work on that.

Action plan

Areas to work on:
Action plan:
1.       Reducing TTT
a.       I’ll watch Jo Gakonga’s video on Teacher echo and IRF to analyse the reasons why I echo my students’ answers in order to reduce it.
b.       I’ll read an article on Teacher talking time on
c.        Once a month, I’ll record myself in order to check how much TTT I use.
2.       Improving monitoring and error correction
a.       I will read Chapter 8 on Mistakes and feedback in The practice of English language teaching by Jeremy Harmer.
b.       I’ll plan more time to the PACS stage and I’ll include possible that students might make in the lesson plan so as to have more errors to analyse.
c.        I’ll observe two different colleagues to see how they monitor their students and try to introduce their techniques during my lessons.
3.       Teaching pronunciation
a.       I’ll do an online Teaching pronunciation course  available on the Cambridge English Teacher website to improve my teaching skills in this idea.
b.       I will read Chapter 15 on Teaching pronunciation in The practice of English language teaching by Jeremy Harmer.
c.        I will test drilling first on my colleagues to check if they respond well to my instructions and the techniques I use.
 978 words

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