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CELTA written assignment: lessons from the classroom

lessons

The purpose of the assignment

The CELTA handbook explains that this assignment allows you to demonstrate that you can:

  • note your own teaching strengths and weaknesses in different situations in light of feedback from learners, teachers and teacher educators
  • identify which ELT areas of knowledge and skills you need further development in
  • describe in a specific way how you might develop your ELT knowledge and skills beyond the course
  • use written language that is clear, accurate and appropriate to the task

reflection

The structure of the assignment: reflecting and evaluating your teaching

Your centre will probably give you a set of instructions for your assignments.  You'd be foolish to ignore these.
What follows is generic advice.
In this assignment, you are pretty much on your own in terms of content but the structure is predictable from its purposes (above).
This assignment has two main parts.  You do not need an introduction because it is clear what it is about.


one

Identifying the strengths and weaknesses

  • The first thing to do is to look back over your feedback from tutors, students and fellow participants.  From that you need to identify strengths and weaknesses and categorise them in some way.  Here are some suggestions:
    • Planning and preparation.  Think about:
      Did you choose suitable material?
      Was your planned timing accurate?
      Was the lesson structure coherent and appropriate?
    • Presenting language and skills:
      Were you clear?
      Did you do the analysis before the lesson?
      Did you explain clearly and accurately?
      Did you focus on pronunciation adequately?
    • Providing practice:
      Was there enough of it?
      Did it work?
      Did the learners get to use language relevant to them?
      Was the level of challenge right?
      How are your drilling skills?
    • Classroom management:
      Were your instructions clear?
      Did you organise the room appropriately?
      Did you group learners well and re-group them unfussily?
    • Handling error:
      Did you intervene at the right times?
      Did you explain why something was wrong?
      Did you give the learners the opportunity to correct themselves and each other?
    • Developing skills:
      Did you teach skills as well as practising them?
      Do you understand the nature of skills work in all 4 areas?
      Can you list three subskills in each of the four areas?
    • Developing language systems knowledge:
      Do you have a firm enough grasp of the grammar of English?
      Can you explain grammatical points clearly and simply?
      Can you define words unambiguously?
      Can you transcribe phonemically?
      Do you understand discourse?

If you would like to have that list as a form for you to fill out, it's available here.  The form has extra spaces for you to add areas of concern.
The form also has 4 numbers at the end for you to list the priorities for action.  After you've filled in the form, look through it to identify what they should be.  Anything with a tick in the Not usually and Never columns is a suitable candidate.


two

Taking action

Now you need an Action Plan.
They usually come in four parts and can be helpful presented as a table, like this:

Priority Reason Action Evaluation
My instructional language is often too lengthy and unclear Unclear instructions lead to wasted classroom time and decrease the sense of orderliness and purposefulness in the classroom
  1. I will observe colleagues and make a special note of how they give instructions
  2. I will script my instructions on my lesson plan
  3. I will ask someone to observe my lessons focusing particularly on this area
  1. I will record my lessons to hear if my instructions are improving
  2. I will make a note of any time I have to stop and repair an instruction and see if I can do it less often
  3. I will include reference to instructions in my end-of-week questionnaire to see what the students think along the lines of:
    "Do you always know what to do in class?"
I don't handle error well If learners are not guided by a focus on key errors, learning and development is inhibited
  1. I will research websites and the literature to see what I can find to help me
  2. I will stop and think for 5 seconds before I correct
  3. I will take more opportunities to get the learners to self- or peer-correct
  4. I will ask someone to observe my lessons focusing particularly on this area
  1. I will record my lessons to hear if my correction techniques are improving
  2. I will include this area in a general learner questionnaire, asking "If you make a mistake, does the teacher help you understand the problem?"
and so on      

Notice that

  1. The first column states the problem
  2. The second column explains what effect on learning the weakness has (i.e., why it is important)
  3. The third column says what you will do
  4. The fourth column explains how you will measure the outcomes and see any improvement.

There is an important distinction between columns three and four.  There is little point in taking action if you have no way of measuring whether it is effective.

There is an entire section of this site devoted to teacher development.  Go there for more ideas.



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