So this month I’ll be doing my CELTA course, in the hopes that it will compliment my professional experience. As a part of the lead up to the course, I was required to complete the pre-course task, which I have copied below. I hope it’s useful for checking your own answers!
I’ll also be posting updates on the course and my progress!
CELTA Precourse Task
After the CELTA course, I intend to continue teaching in a medium sized academy and preparation centre where I live in Spain. The vast majority of my classes will be aimed at adults and at passing the Cambridge suite of examinations.
I decided to teach adults because I find it easier to relate to their language learning journey. Having learned a foreign language as an adult myself, I feel like I can lend my experiences of difficulties and common mistakes to their own journey.
Characteristics of adult learners,
. A specific language goal
. Preconceptions about English or language learning in general, often negative experiences of learning at school
. Life experiences
. Literacy and similar skills usually lacking in younger learners
. Experience of self-motivation
. Perceptions about the role of the teacher/learner
. Experience with other learning environments and exam systems
. Developed social skills
. Confidence with some parts of the language / Lack thereof with others
Before the class begins, I would hope to be aware of at least some of the following information;
. Reasons for learning English
. Any disabilities or problems
. Rough language level
. Employment / Studies
If they are a new student, I usually get the information from a short level test. However, if already studying with us, I usually ascertain the information from the previous class teacher.
In my personal experience, students studying English because of external pressure are the most difficult to motivate. Some teenagers are obliged to do the course by their parents, and as such can be uncooperative and tricky to inspire. Others, such as adults trying to gain access to employment, can also be difficult. Especially if they feel that English shouldn’t be a requisite skill for their field. Also, if they have no particular interest in the culture.
They all seem quite important to me, but I would say that a lot of students might value the following above the others;
. Kindness / Respect / Honesty
. Knowledge of the subject they teach, and an ability to impart the information effectively
. Builds rapport
. Has a sense of humour
While at school myself, I would have associated the following ideas with grammar;
Unnecessary, boring, difficult to understand, and messy.
However, having now studied it as more of a hobby and with a view to applying the rules and principles, my opinion has changed.
Now, I see grammar as methodical, instrumental for learning a new language, fascinating, and occasionally fun. Nevertheless I still see English grammar as quite challenging, especially from the perspective of learners.
2. I went to the movies last night
3. He often comes late
5. Can I have a black coffee please?
6. 12 items or fewer
It’s essential for teachers to have a good knowledge of grammar so that learners can;
. Feel comfortable asking for help with something they don’t understand
. Relate grammatical structures to their own language
.Start to connect and link the language elements with others, creating a personal reference and making doubts easier to identify.
Also, with good grammatical knowledge, a teacher feels comfortable explaining something in several different ways to different learners. Given that some learners understand things in different ways.
1. Subject Pronoun
2. Indefinite Article
4. Adverb of Degree
6. Modal Verb
1. Lexical 2. Lexical 3. Auxiliary 4. Auxiliary 5. Auxiliary 6. Lexical
1. Lexical 2. Auxiliary 3. Auxiliary 4. Lexical 5. Lexical 6. Lexical 7. Auxiliary 8. Lexical
1. Advice 2. Permission 3. Certainty / Logical deduction 4. Ability 5. Possibility
1. Past tense form
2. -ing form
3. Third person, present simple form
4. Base form
5. Past participle form
1. Past progressive
2. Modal perfect
3. Present perfect
4. Past progressive passive
5. Past simple
6. Future progressive
1. Present progressive
2. Past simple
3. Present simple / 3rd person
4. Past perfect
5. Present passive
6. Future perfect simple
7. (a) Past simple (b) Past progressive
8. Present perfect progressive
1. Past 2. Future 3. Action started in the past and which continues in the present
4. Present 5. Past, present, and future (Ongoing state)
The verb ‘to be’ is used to create the present progressive, and the lexical form is with the -ing ending.
Used here to express a planned action / event in the future
Used here to indicate habit
Used here to indicate a past action, but placing emphasis on it, or to make the narrative more dramatic
All of these are stative verbs / verbs of state. Which means that they cannot be used in a continuous form, only simple.
Dictionaries can give us the following information;
. Pronunciation help in the form of phonemes
. Etymology of the word
. If the word is formal or informal
. Part of speech classification
. Syllable count
. Grammatical information; if a noun is countable or uncountable, or if a verb is transitive or intransitive etc….
. An example of the word in a sentence
1. We use ‘high’ for building and structures. Tallest
2. ‘Enervated’ is a little formal and out of context here. Tired / Exhausted
3. ‘Pretentious’ usually has a negative meaning. Intelligent / Considered / Clever
4. ‘Slap’ is too violent an action to be considered ‘loving’. Stroke
5. ‘Footing’ is an incorrect translation from Spanish. Jogging
Verb – Noun
Make the bed
Do the dishes
Verb – Preposition
Adjective – Noun
Adverb – Adjective
1. There 2. South 3. Language 4. Peaceful 5. Young 6. Call 7. Search
8. Equation 9. Sugar
1. Guarantee 2. Cavalry 3. Mechanisation 4. Language 5. Retreat
6. Speculative 7. Success 8. Balance 9. Identify 10. Articulate
The stress in this word family is not uniform, resulting in students mispronouncing one of the two pairs.
The verbs here put the stress on the second syllable, while the noun stresses the first. This happens with two syllable verbs and nouns.
1. Mother 2. Forget 3. Announce 4. Tonight 5. Notable 6. Mention 7. Patrol
. Text messages
. Online news reports
. Food packet
. This task
Some of these items require only a cursory glance, while this task and some news reports demand more attention and concentration.
I have also been reading subtitles on a Spanish television series, which needs concentration and a certain level of multi – tasking.
1. Reading to infer – Perhaps to see whether or not the text is relevant to the essay. If so, which parts are relevant.
2. Scan reading – quickly skim the directory in order to find the specific information
3. Intensive reading – As it’s a topic of real interest, we might read this carefully and methodically
4. Skim/Gist reading – To see whether or not the job would be suitable for us or not. Requisite skills, location, and salary are some things that job seekers might scan for.
Reading in this way can be problematic for several reasons.
Overusing the dictionary means that learners don’t develop skills such as skim-reading and gisting. Skills like these are important for when they take exams such as the ones run by Cambridge, which are on a time limit.
Reading in this way can also bore students, as it’s difficult to experience the intention of the writer and or follow the story of a novel. Thus, the learner doesn’t enjoy reading and perhaps feels discouraged from practising.
. They can’t take their time, go back to check meaning, check for meaning in outside references, or pause to take in all of the information.
. They have no reference, such as visual cues or punctuation.
. The audio might be too fast-paced for them.
. They might not be able to recognise words that they already know if it is not in front of them or the pronunciation is different.
. They might have problems with different regional accents.
I have listened to a Spanish television series, participated in a mobile phone conversation and a face to face conversation, and also listened to a recorded voice message.
Mostly, my motivation for listening to these things came from, at least this morning, a need for specific information. The voice message and phone conversation for example, quick exchanges to find out something specific. The television series is for interest and entertainment.
I pay a lot of attention to the television series, trying to infer meaning and guess the outcome of plot lines, remembering what has happened before. I also occasionally need to read the subtitles, which makes listening carefully important, otherwise I might miss something.
The conversations and voice message however, since they were brief, required less attention and I listened while doing other things.
1. Intensive Listening – Given that I would probably be assessed on the information given in the lecture, I think that getting a lot of information is necessary here.
2. Skim/Gist Listening – As long as the knowledge isn’t relevant or important for my job, I would probably listen for the general idea rather than pay attention to the product specifications or any other specific information.
3. Scan Listening – In a train station or an airport, there can be lots of announcements that are irrelevant to me, so I would focus only on the information I need, perhaps deciding within the first few words if I need to keep listening or not.
4. Listening to infer meaning – Since it’s crucial here to understand every facet of the task, and the information probably wouldn’t be repeated, I would listen intently to get the implicit meaning of the instructions.
5. Intensive Listening – If the person is someone who I am genuinely interested in knowing more about, I would probably dedicate all of my attention to the interview to try to gain as much information as possible about their general opinions.
6. Skim/Gist Listening – Listening to the radio is something that I quite often do while cooking or doing other things, and I think that understanding the overall meaning of the programme would be sufficient to get the information I’m interested in.
During my time as a teacher, I have seen this quite a lot. Students learn English for years at school and yet leave with a basic knowledge of grammar and are unable to speak properly. I think there are several reasons for this.
Often in a school environment, they are uninterested in learning a new language. This leads to them being passive about studying and only doing so to pass exams or assessments, which rarely focus on speaking.
Students sometimes don’t realise the importance of practising their knowledge in real situations, with native speakers, or perhaps they have no chance to.
Also, it is commonly thought that learning a language is the same as any other subject. Where, often, intensive studying of rules and examples might be sufficient to be an expert or pass an exam.
Students might focus too much on speaking perfectly rather than fluently. So preoccupied with getting the grammatical structures right that they neglect the flow of the sentence.
Lastly, they might be nervous. Speaking a new language in front of others, especially a native speaker, might be intimidating for the class.
1. In this case, as long as the gesticulation is helpful, I would agree that the learner has communicated effectively.
2. Also with this question, especially with the rising intonation, I think that the person listening would have no problem understanding the speaker.
3. The first part of this sentence is reasonably clear, the second half however is more vague. Again, I think that the meaning would be understood. But the listener might struggle, especially if they don’t speak the speaker’s native language themselves.
4. In this one, the question might not have been fully understood, or the answer might be grammatically incorrect. Either way, I think that this would be the most difficult exchange to fully understand.
Students might become less shy and more confident when they speak in English, which is a useful skill for future job interviews, exams, etc.
They are more engaged and less inhibited when a teacher isn’t constantly correcting them. They are more relaxed and this leads to more lively discussions and a better class atmosphere.
Examiners often give equal credence to fluency and accuracy.
1. S 7. S
2. W 8. W
3. S 9. W
4. S 10. W
5. W 11. S
6. S 12. S
1. It could be that the learner usually hears these words and rarely writes them, these are also difficult words to spell because the necessary sounds can be made several different ways. She threw the ball hard, so it hurt when I caught it.
2. In some languages, vowels are unnecessary and aren’t used. It may be that the speakers native language is influencing them so that they only use the consonants. My brother lives in Sweden.
3. The student is probably thinking of the word ‘However’ as a conjunctive adverb, which requires a comma directly afterwards. But here, we use it to mean; ‘in whatever manner’. However hard I try, it never works.
4. In this case, maybe the student is not accustomed to writing English. The lack of punctuation here might indicate that they use pauses when they speak and don’t know how to create a similar effect when writing their thoughts down. Failure to capitalise the first letter might mean that they have no experience with writing at all. First of all, he invited me to sit down. After that he offered me a coffee, I was very surprised by his politeness.
1. The problems here are a lack of paragraphing, as well as some misused and wrongly spelled words.
2. Again, there is no sentence structure or paragraphing, misused and misspelled words.
I would perhaps bring an example of a similar letter to class and have learners correct the writing themselves. Getting them to explain not only the mistake, but also the rule behind it, helping when necessary.
Also, an activity that I quite like. I ask a learner a question and write their answer word for word on the board, either correctly spelled or occasionally adding in spelling errors. Then I get them to highlight the spelling mistakes and other members of the group to suggest ways to improve the language.
Lesson Aims/Learning Outcomes
Anticipated Problems and Solutions
1. Published Coursebook F
2. Cassette or CD Player G
3. Newspapers in English B
4. Internet E
5. Overhead Projector I
6. Whiteboard H
7. TV/Radio D
8. Teacher’s Own Materials C
9. Dictionaries A
1. ‘Jot’ is quite informal and colloquial language, there’s no reason why a student would know that as it’s not common. Write / Note (down).
2. This instruction is very long winded and over complicated, more like a very polite request than an instruction. Please answer question 4.
3. This one is very long and there is too much information included, instructions should usually be more succinct. Allow learners to finish one or two tasks because introducing more.
4. While slightly less complicated than some of the previous instructions, this is still a little vague. Instead, the teacher might reference the question specifically and give an example of an answer or reference point.
1. I might explain to the learner that not all communication is about accuracy, and that it’s just as important to practice communicating fluently. If they have any issues with a student they feel has a particularly low level, they can come to me directly to resolve it.
2. I think that in this case, it’s important to tell the entire group why translation is often more harmful than helpful. That it damages their ability to infer meaning from context and in real life situations, it is unlikely that somebody will translate a word that they don’t understand.
3. While I fully understand the need to keep students happy, especially within a school or academy that relies on it’s students for income, I do not tolerate any kind of discrimination in my classes. I encourage an open dialogue between learners and urge students to connect on a personal level, so they better understand the motivations and characters of the others. If I feel that this learner’s prejudice is affecting the learning of the other student, I may avoid, wherever possible, putting them together. But only for the benefit of effective teaching and learning.
4. I would always try to keep a healthy balance between communication and other forms of learning. But I would explain that while speaking is good for maintaining their level of language, it is only by learning new things using specific materials that we really improve and develop.
I would most likely position the desks and students to simulate an information desk, with the assistants on one side and the learners on the other. But I might also try some role plays with a similar desk arrangement, but with both standing up. This would also resemble the format on an information desk but would discourage slouching and may get students to take the activity more seriously.
I think handouts might be useful here, with information about pricing and course content so that students have a visual reference. I might also encourage the use of waiting-room style music.
They may have difficulty taking the exercise seriously, if they have been in other, more teacher-centric environments in the past. They may also have trouble with any metalanguage related to computers or information technology. I could combat this with consistently using similar activities throughout the course and doing a brief vocabulary session with them beforehand. As well as being present during the role-play to answer any questions.
1. Slim is related to attractiveness, while thin is used purely for appearance.
2. A Demonstration would be the easiest here.
3. Using different words. I got up early in the past / I am accustomed to getting up early.
4. A Demonstration. Acting out being nervous and then pretending to cry.
5. Drawing a time line on the board.
6. Breaking up the contraction. Pronouncing it first ‘I will do it’ and then ‘I’ll do it’. Also encourage them to focus on the context.
7. Liken the latter to the colour. And use a gesture of reading to illustrate the former.
8. Use of phonemes written on the board against each word.
9. I would explain that, in cases where the verb and the noun is spelled the same, the noun stresses the first syllable and the verb stresses the second.
10. Again, I would probably use the phonemes to illustrate the difference here.
In the first case, I think that reading out loud forces the learners to focus on fluency, pronunciation and intonation far more than meaning. So an effort should be made to make sure that student understand, perhaps by giving them a moment to re read the text on their own.
In the second, the teacher may have approached the activity in the wrong way, but it shouldn’t be abandoned so hastily. If students only give monosyllabic answers, ask questions that require more information or give them an idea or example of what they should say.
A good reading and speaking activity together might be to split the text into paragraphs, and have each student read one individually. After a few moments, read out questions that require knowledge of a specific part of the text and get students to answer only if the answer was in theirs. Afterwards, I might encourage a class discussion with everybody contributing what they read and a debate about the intention of the writer.
Teachers need to keep the details and personal information of students confidential. Such as address, phone number, and any pertinent exam results.
Course Planning / Review
Poorly planned lessons reflect badly on a teacher and causes them to lose respect. Similarly, reviewing lessons is important to establish ways to improve and grow as a professional.
Careful consideration of curriculum is essential to know where students should be at each stage of the course. Failure to do so makes a teacher look unprepared and unprofessional.
Relationship With Students
It’s important to have a good rapport with students, so that they relate to you and there is a good class atmosphere. However, it is equally as important not to get to close, so to speak. Close personal friendships or even relationships developed after the beginning of the course, may undermine a teacher’s professionalism.
School / College Policies and Rules
Not conforming to a school’s policy about any important issue can lead to insensitivity or rudeness from teachers in class. It can also lead to bad rapport with fellow teachers.
Membership of / Contribution to professional bodies
Being a member of a professional body can be extremely helpful for professional development. Many learners will be more attracted to places with more backing from recognised institutions. Not looking into these may cause students to think that the school don’t take their learning seriously.
ESOL and Teacher Training Research and Development World-Wide
A teacher must constantly update their skills by way of teacher development courses and other things. Without doing so, outdated techniques or similar failings may colour the teacher’s professionalism.
Without standards, different teachers may have different ways of dealing with problems, and different criteria for exam preparation or classroom planning. This becomes a problem especially if the learners share teachers.
Properly kept records are essential for a school’s professionalism. If it’s not done, students may have to repeat information, making them feel unappreciated or ignored. It also leaves teacher’s in the dark about progress and any information they should be aware of.
Teachers should be able to empathise with and support students. Especially in cases with young students being bullied or having problems at home.
Teacher’s should always be acutely aware of any issues surrounding a learner’s cultural background, and be accordingly respectful.
Late arrival to class shouldn’t be acceptable to students and so should be even more so for teachers. In my opinion, a teacher should always aim to greet their learners as they enter a lesson.
Continuous assessment of learners is important, especially if they are aiming to sit an official examination at the end of the course. Failure to inform students of their weaknesses and strengths may undermine confidence in the teacher’s abilities.
I personally, always try to work as a team with my colleagues. It’s of the utmost importance to communicate with each other about course content, lesson planning, and any problems you might have with a class.
Did you find this useful? Let me know in the comments!