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Unpacking and explaining the CELTA syllabus and assessment criteria

unpack

The CELTA syllabus was last updated in 2018 but has not become any clearer.  What follows is an attempt to translate Cambridge Assessment English-speak into language comprehensible to normal people.
The Cambridge specifications have been re-arranged to link the syllabus to the assessment criteria.  Then they have been translated and linked to other guides on this site (mostly in the initial-plus training section) to help you meet the criteria.
The following is based on the fifth edition of the Cambridge Syllabus and Assessment Guidelines, published in February 2018 and available on the Cambridge website at http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/images/21816-celta-syllbus.pdf (that’s how they spell it).

The syllabus comes in five parts and there is a guide to each on this site accessible from the CELTA index.  We will take them one at a time, looking at what they say, what they mean and how your performance is assessed in each section.  We will also consider how best to meet the criteria to get the best possible grade.
If you have ambitions to get an A-grade on CELTA, this is a good place to start.

You can click on this diagram to go to the area that interests you or work your way down the guide area by area.
At any stage, clicking on the arrow will return you to this diagram (you will find it on the left at the end of each section).

5 areas


learners

CELTA Syllabus Area 1

Learners and teachers, and the teaching and learning context

There are six sections to this area.

# Title What you need to be able to do Translation
1 Cultural, linguistic and educational backgrounds understand the range of backgrounds and experiences that adult learners bring to their classes This means being aware of three major things about learners:
  1. First languages:
    Do not confuse this with nationality.
    There are something in the order of 6500 languages spoken on this planet and you need to know a little about the languages your learners speak.  You do not have to speak the language(s), although it helps considerably if you can, but you should know something about them and their major characteristics.  For more, see the guide to types of languages.
  2. Cultures:
    Cultures are more closely tied to nationality and there are two major differences that you need to consider:
    1. Power relationships:
      In some cultures there are distinct and wide variations in power relationships.  Other cultures have narrower gaps.  Learners from the first sort of culture will expect teachers to be authoritative and in charge, others may expect a more equal relationship.
    2. Tolerance of risk:
      In some cultures people are averse to taking risks, especially in public, and will be reluctant to guess or say something they are not sure about.  Learners from other backgrounds will be happy to experiment and unfazed by getting things wrong in public.
      For more, see the guide to learning styles and culture.
  3. Educational backgrounds:
    This is allied to cultural differences.  Adult learners will bring with them expectations of how best to learn and be taught and their views will often be based on how they were taught at school and elsewhere.
    It is foolish, and probably counter-productive to ignore or disparage their experiences.
2 Motivations for learning English as an adult
  1. understand the different motivations and expectations that adults bring to learning English
  2. identify ways in which personal factors may affect language learning
  3. make practical use of this knowledge and understanding to plan and teach with sensitivity
  4. develop and maintain motivation, identify and respond to expectations
  1. There is an essential guide to motivation on this site which explains all you need to know for CELTA.  The main thing to remember is that most people have a mixture of motivations.
    Most learners will also expect the input they receive to match their reasons for learning.
  2. A range of factors affects learning and most of them are covered in the guide to how learning happens.  They include, for example, age, motivation, cultural backgrounds and so on.
  3. In your planning and teaching, you need to show that you are taking these issues into account and not teaching something because you know about it but using things that appeal to your learners.
  4. This requires you to consider task and institutional motivation as well as being, yourself, enthusiastic about what you are doing.
3 Learning and teaching preferences
  1. demonstrate an awareness of the different learning preferences that adults bring to learning English
  2. demonstrate an awareness of the different roles teachers may adopt at different stages of teaching and in different teaching/learning contexts
  3. make practical use of this awareness in planning
    and teaching
  1. Before the 2018 changes to the syllabus and the assessment criteria, this part referred to something called learning styles and much was made of the theory that people learn in fundamentally different ways.  Most of the theory has been comprehensibly debunked.
    Nevertheless, it remains true that all learners are different and some prefer being told things, some prefer to work things out for themselves and others like working in groups or alone etc.
  2. Your role may vary in a number of ways.  You may, for example, be:
    an informant: telling people things about the language and language skills
    a manager: making sure an activity is understood and runs smoothly
    a resource: answering questions and helping people
    a monitor: keeping quiet and listening
    a counsellor: advising learners on how best to do tasks and learn what you are teaching
  3. When you plan, think carefully about what you will be doing at various stages and what your role should be.  This will make sure you are in the right place at the right time and not too intrusive but available.
    To help a little, there are guides to activity types and getting and giving feedback on this site
4 Context for learning and teaching English
  1. understand in broad terms the context in which teaching is taking place with special reference to the learners, the physical surroundings and the availability of resources
  2. understand the broad range of learning needs including the needs of learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities
  3. make practical use of this understanding in adapting teaching to contexts and learners’ needs
  1. Note that this says, understand in broad terms, i.e., not in detail.  You need to be able to set up the classroom in a way that is appropriate to what you are teaching and use resources as necessary.
    On this site there are guides to grouping learners, arranging a classroom and using resources.
  2. You may find that some of your learners need special consideration because they have poor eyesight, hearing difficulties or other issues to deal with.  Make sure you give it.
  3. At the planning stage, think carefully about what you are going to use in the classroom and whether some learners will have any difficulties.
5 Varieties of English
  1. understand the main ways that varieties of English differ from one another
  2. demonstrate awareness of the need for teachers and learners to make informed choices about language models for teaching and learning
  3. make practical use of this knowledge and awareness in planning and teaching
  1. There is a guide on this site to varieties of English which covers what you need to know.
  2. Notice that this refers to teachers and learners making choices.  Learners need to be aware of what language is appropriate for them to learn and you need to be able to supply models which will help them do so.  If you have a strong regional accent, for example, ask yourself if its use in the classroom is helpful.
    If you are presenting language models, try to avoid ones which only work in a very limited range of situations (such as very colloquial or subject-specific language).
  3. When you are selecting or designing materials to use in classrooms, bear in mind what is useful as a model for your learners.
6 Multilingualism and the role of first languages understand the kinds of language backgrounds that learners may come from (e.g. multilingual/monolingual; different varieties of English) and how a learner’s language background might influence the learning of English In pre-2018 versions of the syllabus there was mention of standard and non-standard varieties of English but this has been changed to different varieties to reflect that fact that deciding what is standard or non-standard is an unnecessary value judgement.
This is not a difficult area but requires a little thought:
  1. What (types of) languages do your learners speak?  See the guide to types of languages.
  2. What type of English do your learners need to acquire?  For example, are they going to use English to fit into an English-speaking culture or are they learning it to communicate international (using English as a lingua franca)?
    See the guide to language variety.

The assessment of Section 1


assessment
There are 4 critical assessment criteria and one written assignment which focus on this area.
The assessment criteria are:
1a teaching a class with an awareness of the needs and interests of the learner group Translation: teach what the learners need to learn, not what they already know or what is not relevant to them.
1b teaching a class with an awareness of learning preferences and cultural factors that may affect learning Translation: be aware of how risk-aversion or expectations of power roles may affect how people function in groups and what their attitude to the teacher's role may be.
1c acknowledging, when necessary, learners’ backgrounds and previous learning experiences Translation: do not talk down to adults, whatever their language ability in English and do not assume that they will be amenable to new and innovative approaches unless you can demonstrate their worth.
4a identifying and stating appropriate aims/outcomes for individual lessons Translation: do not teach what the learners do not need to know.
The written assignment is entitled Focus on the Learner and there is a separate guide to how to write it on this site.
Click here to go to the dedicated guide to this section of the syllabus.

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systems

CELTA Syllabus Area 2

Language analysis and awareness

There are seven sections in this area but they are linked to each other.

# Title What you need to be able to do Translation
1 Basic concepts and terminology used in ELT to discuss language form and use understand key terminology used in ELT to talk about language and apply this terminology to planning and teaching You need to understand the difference between:
  1. Language form:
    This refers to the mechanics of tenses, grammar and so on and includes the language to talk about words classes, tenses, aspects, phrases and clauses.
  2. Language use:
    This refers how language is used to make meaning and includes concepts such as notions, functions and communicative competence.
There is a short basic language analysis course which explains most of the ideas and concepts in this section and introduces you to the essential terminology you need to talk (and think) about language form.
There is also a guide to form, function and meaning which tells you more about language use.
2 Grammar
Grammatical frameworks: rules and conventions relating to words, sentences, paragraphs and texts
  1. understand a range of the rules and conventions relating to words, sentences, paragraphs and texts
  2. demonstrate a basic working knowledge of how the verb phrase and the noun phrase are formed and used in English, for example:
    tense and aspect
    voice
    modality, including the expression of hypothetical meaning
    finite and non-finite forms
    the adverbial element
    countability
  1. The short basic language analysis course on this site covers these areas.  There is also a simple grammar for learners which will give you the data you need if you are beginner in this area.
  2. All the example areas given by Cambridge here have guides devoted to them.  Click on the links on the left to go to those guides.

There are numerous guides linked from the initial plus index which you can follow to find out more.

3 Lexis
Word formation, meaning and use in context
  1. understand basic principles of word formation and lexical meaning, for example:
    meaning and definition
    pronunciation
    spelling
    affixation and compounding
    synonymy and hyponymy
  2. understand the effect on word choice of factors such as:
    co-text (e.g. collocation)
    context of situation (style)
  1. All the example areas given by Cambridge here have guides devoted to them in the language analysis course or elsewhere.  Click on the links on the left to go to those guides.
  2. And the same applies in this area.

There are numerous guides linked from the initial plus index which you can follow to find out more.

4 Phonology
The formation and description of English phonemes Features of connected speech
  1. demonstrate a working knowledge of the sounds of English
  2. understand some features of connected speech, for example:
    – linking
    – assimilation and elision
    – word and sentence stress
    – intonation patterns
This area is covered in three ways:
  1. The initial plus pronunciation index has links to essential guides
  2. The in-service pronunciation index has links to detailed guides concerning vowels, consonants and connected speech
  3. There is a short transcription course on this site to help you to learn to transcribe the sounds of English phonetically.
5 The practical significance of similarities and differences between languages identify some significant differences between their own language and a foreign language, and demonstrate in practice their understanding of the relevance of some of these differences for the teacher and learner There is a section of the A to Z training index which has a series of links to those guides which contain some detail of how languages other than English work.
There is also a guide to types of languages in the in-service training section.
6 Reference materials for language awareness use a range of reference material to analyse and describe language for teaching purposes There is a list of reference books related to language forms on this site.
There is also a glossary of grammar terms which you can download as a PDF document.
7 Key strategies and approaches for developing learners’ language knowledge use strategies, approaches and techniques to develop learners’ language knowledge, for example inductive and deductive presentations The initial plus teaching index contains guides to relevant areas and the guide to how learning happens covers deductive and inductive learning (and more).
You can also access the in-service teaching index for more detail.

The assessment of Section 2


assessment
These assessment criteria and one written assignment focus on this area.
The assessment criteria are:
4a identifying and stating appropriate aims/outcomes for individual lessons
4c
Translation: when you focus on teaching a language structure, make sure you understand it yourself and can state what the learners need to know clearly and with examples.
4b ordering activities so that they achieve lesson aims/outcomes Translation: teach before you practise.
4c selecting, adapting or designing materials, activities, resources and technical aids appropriate for the lesson Translation: if you are focusing on language structure through, say, the use of a written or listening text or a visual, make sure that the examples of the structure in the text actually are representative and accurate and/or that the visual aids will elicit or exemplify the target language items.
4i analysing language with attention to form, meaning and phonology and using correct terminology Translation: demonstrate that you understand what you teach.
4j anticipating potential difficulties with language, materials and learners Translation: check the way your learners' first languages deal with the forms and be prepared for their problems with English.
4k suggesting solutions to anticipated problems Translation: so what are you going to do about the difficulties you have predicted?
2a adjusting their own use of language in the classroom according to the learner group and the context Translation: when you are modelling the form, do so in a way that the learners can understand.
See the guide to being clear.
2b identifying errors and sensitively correcting learners’ oral and written language Translation: focus on the targets and do not get sidetracked by other errors you may hear.
2c providing clear contexts and a communicative focus for language Translation: think about what the language form does with respect to communicating meaning.
2d providing accurate and appropriate models of oral and written language in the classroom Translation: think about what the language form does with respect to communicating meaning.
2e focusing on language items in the classroom by clarifying relevant aspects of meaning and form (including phonology) for learners to an appropriate degree of depth Translation: think about the level of your students and neither over- nor under-inform.
2f showing awareness of differences in register Translation: Cambridge means style (i.e., level of formality), not register here.
Think about whether the language item is formal, informal or neutral and make sure the learners are aware of which it is.
2g providing appropriate practice of language items Translation: think about whether the practice you are planning really focuses on the targets you are teaching.
Will any task you set actually force the learners to produce the target forms?
The written assignment is entitled Focus on Language Structures and there is a separate guide to how to write it on this site.
Additionally, the understanding of language differences comes into the written assignment focusing on the learner (link above for how to write that).
Click here to go to the dedicated guide to this section of the syllabus.

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skill

CELTA Syllabus Area 3

Language skills: reading, listening, speaking and writing

There are four skills and each one has its own syllabus content although some are duplicated for each skill.  We'll look at the duplicates first and then at the skill-specific syllabus content.

Title What you need to be able to do Translation

For all the skills

Basic concepts and terminology used for describing reading, listening, speaking and writing skills understand basic concepts and terminology used for describing writing skills, and apply this to practical teaching You need to understand some key ideas that are common to all skills analysis:
  1. The difference between Receptive and Productive skills.
    The receptive skills are reading and listening.
    The productive skills are writing and speaking.
  2. Top-down processing.
    When we read or listen we draw on our knowledge of the world, our understanding of the topic, our understanding of how things are usually ordered and structured and our understanding of the intentions of the writer or speaker.
    That's Top-down processing.
  3. Bottom-up processing.
    When we read or listen we draw on our knowledge of the language systems, its grammar, lexis, spelling and pronunciation, to de-code what we hear or read.
    That's Bottom-up processing.
  4. Strategies.
    When we write or speak, we deploy certain strategies to communicate and these include structuring what we write conventionally, having ways to hold the floor when speaking, use style appropriately and so on.
    These strategies are what we are talking about when we consider the sub-skills.

There are guides to the skills that explain the concepts in more detail linked from the initial plus skills index.

For both the receptive skills

Purposes of reading or listening understand how approaches to listening or reading texts vary depending on the purpose of listening or reading, and make practical use of this in teaching How we read (quickly, intensively, casually or carefully) depends on why we are reading.
How we listen (half-heartedly, carefully, listening out for something or trying to get every word) depends on why we are listening.
For more detail, see the guides to reading and speaking in the initial plus skills index.

For reading
reading

Decoding meaning identify some of the features which help learners decode meanings of words, sentences and whole texts, and make practical use of this in teaching It is rare, even for native speakers that it is necessary to understand everything we read in great detail.
Decoding texts means using our knowledge of the language forms and systems and making informed guess about what the text means sometimes.
The guide to what reading is will tell you more.
Potential barriers to reading
  1. identify some of the difficulties learners may face when trying to understand texts
  2. identify ways of making reading texts more intelligible to learners
These difficulties naturally include unknown words in the text but also the complexities of the grammar, the length of sentences and the density of information.
Teachers need to have strategies for dealing with potentially blocking lexis (unknown words) and making sure that the learners can use their top-down knowledge to help them de-code what they read.
The guide to teaching reading will tell you more.

For listening
listen

Features of listening texts
  1. identify some of the features which indicate the purpose of utterances and listening texts and which help convey meaning
  2. make practical use of this knowledge and awareness in teaching
If you are a native or very skilful speaker of English, you can quickly identify what you are listening to and make judgements concerning its relevance and importance.  That is much more difficult to do if you are less skilled.
Teachers need carefully to train learners in the skills they need to use depending on the sorts of texts they hear and their reasons for listening to them.
The guide to understanding listening will tell you more.
Potential barriers to listening
  1. identify some of the difficulties learners face when listening
  2. demonstrate ways of helping learners understand listening texts and improve their listening skills
For many learners, listening is the most difficult skill to acquire and the most stressful one to use because the real-time pressures of decoding streams of sound make it simply very hard to do.
Teachers need to use strategies to remove some of the pressures and demonstrate to learners that they can listen and comprehend even if they can't understand everything they hear.
The guide to teaching listening will tell you more.

For speaking
speaking

Features of spoken English
  1. identify some key features of spoken English
  2. identify some ways in which spoken English differs from written English
  3. make practical use of this knowledge and awareness in planning and teaching
Features you will need to understand include the spontaneous nature of speaking (most of it) and the ways in which we handle lapses in memory, the inability to find the right word exactly and the ways in which people take turns in spoken interactions.
The guide to understanding speaking will help in the first two areas and the guide to teaching speaking for the last area.
Both those guides contain links to other areas of speaking skills.
Language functions
  1. identify a wide range of language functions and the forms used to express them
  2. apply knowledge of language functions to planning
    and teaching
Functions refer to the communicative value of what we say, not just whether the form is correct.
There are probably as many functions of English (and all languages of course) as there are people trying to write lists of them.
The initial plus functions index is the place to go for more help and guidance.
Paralinguistic features understand the role of paralinguistic features (e.g. gesture, gaze) in communication Do not assume that these are common to all cultures.  Gaze, gaze shifting and head movements are, in particular, very variable in meaning culture to culture.
Phonemic systems identify and describe some differences in phonemic systems of languages spoken by learners This is not an area in which you need detailed understanding but you should be able to demonstrate that you understand how your learners' languages are stressed and what sounds in English the languages do not share.
The initial plus index of pronunciation has links to more guides and you may also find the guide to helping learners with troublesome sounds useful (although you will need to know the basics of phonology to understand it all).

For writing
writing

Subskills and features of written texts
  1. identify some of the subskills of writing
  2. identify some features of written texts
Great detail is not required in this area but you should know a little about planning, drafting, awareness of audience and layout among other subskills.
Written texts across cultures differ in how they are conventionally staged and structured so you need to know a little about what is called genre features.
There are two guides to writing linked from the initial plus skills index and, if you are bit more ambitious one on genre in the in-service section.
Stages of teaching writing
  1. identify the stages of producing written text
  2. make practical use of knowledge about writing subskills, features of written language and stages of producing written text in planning and teaching
There are two main approaches to teaching writing: focusing on the product (a product approach) and focusing on the process (a process approach).
Whichever tactic is adopted, you need to know how writers construct text from initial brainstorming of the topic to the final version.
The guides to writing linked from the initial plus skills index will help.
Adult literacy
  1. understand some issues relating to adult literacy and use of non-Roman script
  2. apply awareness of adult literacy issues to practical teaching situations
Pre-2018 changes, this was referred to as beginner rather than adult literacy but it still refers to being sensitive to how hard it is to acquire a new way of writing and a new script.
Languages vary enormously and there are hundreds of writing systems around the world, some of which are non-alphabetic and many of which are written right to left or top to bottom.
English spelling and punctuation
  1. identify some English spelling patterns and some strategies to help learners develop their spelling skills
  2. identify some ways in which punctuation contributes to meaning in written text
  3. apply a basic understanding of English spelling and punctuation to practical teaching
There are separate guides on this site to English spelling (which is not as irregular or random as some claim) and to English punctuation.
Once you have learned the rules for both systems, you can incorporate them into your teaching of writing.

For teaching
teaching

Key strategies and approaches for developing learners’ receptive and productive skills use strategies, approaches and techniques to develop learners’ receptive and productive skills Once you know a bit about the subskills that make up the four main skills areas, it's time to try teaching the skills.
There are four key guides to help with teaching skills, all linked from the initial plus skills index.

The assessment of Section 3


assessment
These assessment criteria and one written assignment focus on this area.
The assessment criteria are:
4a identifying and stating appropriate aims/outcomes for individual lessons
4c
Translation: when you focus on teaching a language skill, make sure you understand it yourself and can state what the learners need to know clearly and with examples.
4b ordering activities so that they achieve lesson aims/outcomes Translation: teach the skill explicitly; do not simply provide practice in using it.
4c selecting, adapting or designing materials, activities, resources and technical aids appropriate for the lesson Translation: if you are focusing on language skills through, say, the use of a written or spoken text as a model for what the learners should aim to produce, make sure that the texts actually are representative, conventional and accurate.
4l using terminology that relates to language skills and subskills correctly Translation: check that you have a grip on key terms such as monitor listening, skimming, scanning, intensive reading and listening, text structure and text layout etc. before you start to plan.
3a helping learners to understand reading and listening texts Translation: if learners are given a reason for reading or listening and alerted to the ways we read and listen depending on our reasons for doing it and the text type, they will be much better placed to do it successfully.
3b helping learners to produce oral and written language
(Before the 2018 changes to the criteria, this one came in two parts, one asking you to develop written skills and one asking you develop spoken skills. You are no longer required to develop skills but you are required to show that you can teach oral and written language.)
Translation: if we break down the main productive skills into manageable subskills such as asking for clarification, arranging a meeting or suggesting alternatives when we speak and writing informally in an email or formally in a letter, we can help learners become competent and confident speakers and writers.
Simply asking learners to speak or write is akin to asking a beginner pianist to write a Mozart concerto.  Do not be surprised if they can't do it very well.
The written assignment is entitled Focus on Language Skills and there is a separate guide to how to write it on this site.
Click here to go to the dedicated guide to this section of the syllabus.

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planning

CELTA Syllabus Area 4

Planning and resources for different teaching contexts

There are five sections in this area.

# Title What you need to be able to do Translation
1 Principles of planning for effective teaching of adult learners of English
  1. understand the purpose and principles of planning for effective teaching of adult learners
  2. distinguish between different kinds of teaching and different kinds of lessons, and select the kinds of lessons that are most appropriate for particular learners
Both the purposes of planning (why we bother) and the principles to apply when making a plan are covered in the initial guide to planning.
There is another guide that takes you step by step through the planning process.
There is also a guide explaining the major ways in which whole lessons may be structured.
2 Lesson planning for effective teaching of adult learners of English
  1. plan logically sequenced lessons that are appropriate to the needs of the learners
  2. devise lesson plans which include:
    • a statement of aims
    • a class profile
    • anticipation of difficulties and suggested solutions
    • description of teacher and learner interactions
    • details of resources to be used
    • staged description of procedures including anticipated timings
  3. relate, where appropriate, the learners’ language needs to learning in other areas, showing awareness of the broader educational context in which the teaching/ learning of English is situated
This is where you put the principles (above) into practice.
The place to go for detailed advice is the guide to writing a CELTA lesson plan.
3 Evaluation of lesson planning
  1. evaluate their own lesson preparation before and after teaching through reflection and by taking note of comments from tutors, colleagues and learners
  2. take account of this evaluation in planning future lessons
There are those of us who are good at introspection and those who need a bit of practice. If you are in the second group, you need to ask some questions.  Not all the questions will be relevant so pick the ones that are.
  1. The plan
    1. Did you allow enough / too much time for everything?
    2. Was the level of challenge about right?
    3. Did you change or adapt your plan?  Why?
  2. Teaching
    1. Was the lesson coherent and did it show clear development?
    2. Was there an adequate variety of interactions and activity types to keep the learners engaged?
    3. What could the learners do by the end of the lesson that they couldn't have done at the beginning?
    4. Did the materials engage and motivate?
  3. The future
    What changes will you make to your teaching behaviour?
If you have thought carefully about these things, you are prepared to get feedback from your tutors and colleagues.
4 The selection, adaptation and evaluation of materials and resources in planning (including computer and other technology based resources)
  1. select and evaluate materials and resources (including use of technology and digital tools etc.)
  2. understand the need for and begin to put into practice, with due regard for the provisions of copyright, the adaptation of resources and materials to meet the requirements of specific groups of adult learners
It is estimated that about 750 million people are actively learning English as a second or foreign language.  Publishing in the field is very big business indeed.
If you are taking CELTA in a good centre, there will be plenty of resource books and classroom materials for you to browse.  Take the time to do that because familiarity with a range of resources will save you time when it comes to planning and preparation.  You will know where to look for what you want.
There are guides on this site to using resources and evaluating materials.
When you are looking at materials and activities in course books and so on, ask yourself some hard questions:
What's this activity for? Is it awareness raising, skill getting or skill using (see the guide to activity types for more detail).
Will this material appeal to my learners?
Does the teacher's book tell me how to use it?
5 Knowledge of commercially produced resources and non-published materials and classroom resources for teaching English to adults develop a basic working knowledge of some commercially produced and non-published materials and classroom resources for teaching English to adults

The assessment of Section 4


assessment
These assessment criteria and one written assignment focus on this area.
The assessment criteria are:
4a identifying and stating appropriate aims/outcomes for individual lessons Translation: when you focus on teaching a language structure, make sure you understand it yourself and can state what the learners need to know clearly and with examples.
4b ordering activities so that they achieve lesson aims/outcomes Translation: teach before you practise.
4c selecting, adapting or designing materials, activities, resources and technical aids appropriate for the lesson Translation: if you are focusing on language structure through, say, the use of a written or listening text or a visual, make sure that the examples of the structure in the text actually are representative and accurate and/or that the visual aids will elicit or exemplify the target language items.
4d presenting the materials for classroom use with a professional appearance, and with regard to copyright requirements Translation: source materials you use in the classroom and respect copyright.  If you use your own materials, check for accuracy: proofread carefully!
4e describing the procedure of the lesson in sufficient detail
Translation: When you write the procedural part of the plan, do it in a table with the following column headings:
Stage, Aim, Procedure, Time, Interaction, Comment and teacher role.
That way, you won't miss anything.
4f including interaction patterns appropriate for the materials and activities used in the lesson
Translation: Think about the purpose of the task. Is it best done individually, in groups or pairs or as a whole class?
4g ensuring balance, variety and a communicative focus in materials, tasks and activities
Translation: Look down the interaction column in your procedure.
Is there a mix of interaction types or is it all teacher to student or student to student?
Is there an opportunity for people to get out of their seats, change partners and move around?
4h allocating appropriate timing for different stages in the lessons Translation: Do not forget to include the time it takes to set up and get feedback from tasks. They almost always take longer than you think!
4i analysing language with attention to form, meaning and phonology and using correct terminology Translation: demonstrate that you understand what you teach.
4j anticipating potential difficulties with language, materials and learners Translation: look again at the plan.
Are there any possible problems that you have missed?
4k suggesting solutions to anticipated problems Translation: so what are you going to do about the difficulties you have predicted?
4l using terminology that relates to language skills and subskills correctly Translation: check that you have a grip on key terms such as monitor listening, skimming, scanning, intensive reading and listening, text structure and text layout etc. before you start to plan.
4m working constructively with colleagues in the planning of teaching practice sessions Translation: make sure that you liaise carefully with colleagues teaching the same classes.  You do not want to hear, "We did this yesterday."
4n reflecting on and evaluating their plans in light of the learning process and suggesting improvements for future plans Translation: use the questions above to organise your thoughts and make plans to focus on strengths and deal with weaknesses.
The written assignment is entitled Lessons from the Classroom and there is a separate guide to how to write it on this site.
Click here to go to the dedicated guide to this section of the syllabus.

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teaching

CELTA Syllabus Area 5

Developing teaching skills and professionalism

For many, this is the heart of any teacher-training programme at any level.
There are nine sections in this area.

# Title What you need to be able to do Translation
1 The effective organisation of the classroom
  1. arrange the physical features of the classroom to suit the learners and the type of lesson, and ensure safety regulations are taken into account
  2. set up and manage whole class work, pair and group work and individual work as appropriate
  1. Time spent setting up a classroom in a way that allows the learners to interact as you want them to easily and helps activities flow smoothly is never time wasted.
    For more help in how a classroom should be arranged, see the guide to classroom organisation.
  2. By the same token, grouping learners in a way that allows them to co-operate, work alone, confront each other, mingle and find others and so on is vital to the success of any activity. You cannot, for example work as a team of four if you are sitting in a row.
    The guide to grouping learners will help you meet this criterion in your teaching.
2 Classroom presence and control establish and maintain a good rapport with learners at all times and foster a constructive learning atmosphere You don't need a guide to this although you may find some of the information in the essential guide to motivation useful.
The short guide to teacher roles may also be helpful.
3 Teacher and learner language
  1. use their own English language skills and L1 where appropriate to enhance the effectiveness of their teaching
  2. adjust their own use of language to the level of the class
  3. give clear instructions
  4. choose appropriate moments, and appropriate strategies for correcting learners’ language
The phrase and L1 where appropriate was added in the 2018 revision of the syllabus.
There is a guide to using translation on this site for those who are keen to know more but the overview in the guide to teacher talk linked below is sufficient for CELTA.
Maintaining naturalness while remaining clear, even for lower-level learners, is something that takes a bit of practice.
For more, see the guide to being clear.
There are two guides in the initial plus training section which will help: teacher talk and learner talk.
Correction, too, needs to be done sensitively and at the right time. For more, see the guide to handling error.
4 The use of teaching materials and resources
  1. make appropriate use of a range of materials and resources, including digital, in relation to specified aims
  2. understand the implications of teaching with limited resources
The addition of including digital is new from 2018.  It's reassuring that Cambridge are keeping up.
There is a guide on this site to using resources which considers some digital resources (such as this one).
The second part of this area simply needs some thought.  What will you use instead of a camera, a data projector, a smart board and so on?  The guide to this section linked below has some ideas.
5 Practical skills for teaching at a range of levels
  1. work successfully with learners at different levels, using appropriate types of classroom activity to develop learners’ language and skills
  2. involve learners of different ability levels in the work of the class and enable them to feel a sense of progress
These are fundamental teaching skills that develop (or should) as your course progresses. It is not easy, on a website such as this, to train you in them.
However, the guide to the different sorts of activity type should help as will the guides to motivation and teacher talk.
6 The monitoring and evaluation of learning
  1. monitor learner behaviours in class time and respond appropriately
  2. incorporate into their lessons some basic assessment procedures
  3. make planning decisions on the basis of assessment
There is more to monitoring than wandering around, however closely you are listening when you do it.
How you monitor and when you intervene are difficult skills to acquire but your actions will often depend on the type of activity you are monitoring and its purpose (see above for a link to that guide).
There is also a guide on this site in the in-service section devoted to monitoring.
7 Evaluation of the teaching/learning process
  1. make balanced and constructive self-appraisal of their own teaching
  2. respond appropriately to feedback from tutors, peers and learners
  3. assess their own strengths and development needs, make practical use of that assessment and set goals and targets for future development
  4. make constructive appraisals of the lessons of their colleagues
See above for a list of the questions you should ask yourself when evaluating your own teaching.
Note, too, the words balanced and constructive. Do not be too hard on yourself.
How you respond to feedback is a matter of personalities (and the sort of feedback you are getting).
Try not to think,
    Yes, but ...
and prefer to think,
    Yes, OK, that's point. I'll consider it.
8 Professional development:
responsibilities
  1. demonstrate professional responsibility by following any institutional code(s) of practice and
    implementing institutional requirements including:
    • health and safety procedures
    • equal opportunities policies
    • record keeping and time-keeping requirements
  2. understand the limits of their responsibility with regard to the welfare, health, safety and supervision of learners and know when to assume responsibility themselves or refer responsibility, ensuring that it has been assumed by someone else
These two sections can be taken together because they refer to the same thing: professionalism.
You are taking a teacher-training course and teachers are professionals who need to adhere to some minimum standards.
This section of the CELTA syllabus is not so much taught as mentioned. You need to adhere to safety regulations, treat people equally and with respect (even when you disagree), avoid stereotyping your learners and remember that they may have poor language skills but there isn't much wrong with their thinking skills (usually).

The syllabus makes it clear that CELTA is an initial qualification and no short course like it can possibly cover more than the surface of the concepts, skills and ideas you will need to master if you want to go on to being a master practitioner and a fully-fledged professional teacher of English.
There are numerous guides on this site, not least in the in-service section to take you further and deeper into what you need to know.
There is also a section devoted to teacher development which has ideas for tackling areas you know are weaknesses.
Finally, there is an article on this site which attempts to analyse what makes an expert teacher of English.
9 Professional development:
support systems
in recognition of the initial nature and scope of their training so far, respond appropriately to relevant aspects of professional development by finding out about opportunities for further professional development in teaching English to adults, including:
  • appropriate professional associations
  • magazines
  • digital resources
  • journals and publications for teachers entering the field of teaching English language to adults

The assessment of Section 5


assessment
These assessment criteria and one written assignment focus on this area.
The assessment criteria are:
5a arranging the physical features of the classroom appropriately for teaching and learning, bearing in mind safety regulations of the institution Translation: Take the time to arrange the furniture as well as you are able to to make the interaction pattern you want to happen possible. It is time well spent.
5b setting up and managing whole class and/or group or individual activities as appropriate
(This criterion was changed in 2018 to include the phrase and managing, incidentally, so it refers to more than simply setting up activities and includes what you do while they are happening.)
Translation: If you want people to work individually, in pairs, in groups or with the whole class, you have a good reason for that. Make sure the seating allows it to happen and make sure, too, that the learners do it.
5c selecting appropriate teaching techniques in relation to the content of the lesson Translation: Know what the targets are for all the procedures and activities you use.
5d managing the learning process in such a way that lesson aims are achieved Translation: Give clear instructions, demonstrate what is required when necessary and monitor to make sure everyone is on task and doing what you asked.
5e making use of materials, resources and technical aids in such a way that they enhance learning Translation: Do not use materials and tasks just because they are fun or engaging (although they should be the second of these at least).  Use tasks because they will help learning.
5f using appropriate means to make instructions for tasks and activities clear to learners Translation: Explain, check, demonstrate and check again.
If people don't know what to do you are wasting everyone's time.
5g using a range of questions effectively for the purpose of elicitation and checking of understanding Translation: Check the guide to asking good questions and make sure that they are answerable.
5h providing learners with appropriate feedback on tasks and activities Translation: Check the guide to giving and getting feedback.
5i maintaining an appropriate learning pace in relation to materials, tasks and activities Translation: Don't rush but keep things moving or people get bored. Be neither a steamroller nor a sluggard.
5j monitoring learners appropriately in relation to the task or activity
Translation: Check the guide to monitoring especially in terms of what sort of activity it is and how closely you need to be involved.
5k beginning and finishing lessons on time and, if necessary, making any relevant regulations pertaining to the teaching institution clear to learners Translation: Find out what's required.
5l maintaining accurate and up-to-date records in their portfolio
Translation: Find out what's required and do it.
5m noting their own teaching strengths and weaknesses in different teaching situations in light of feedback from learners, teachers and teacher educators Translation: Listen carefully to what people say but rely more on your own understanding of your strengths and weaknesses.
5n participating in and responding to feedback Translation: Be constructive and supportive. It's not your place to criticise and carp.
The written assignment is entitled Lessons from the Classroom and there is a separate guide to how to write it on this site.
Click here to go to the dedicated guide to this section of the syllabus.

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