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CELTA written assignment: focus on language skill


The purpose of the assignment

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

That's a lot to cover in 1000 words so you need to be concise and stay focused.  This is not the place to discuss generalities.


The four skills and their subskills

This is an overview only.  For more on skills, go to the initial-plus training section on skills.

The skills look like this:


The 4 main skills can be broken down into subskills (and should be).  These include, very briefly and incompletely:

  1. Reading:
    1. skimming (reading for general gist)
    2. scanning (reading to locate details)
    3. intensive reading (reading for the fullest possible understanding)
    4. extensive reading (reading to follow the gist or get the general picture)
  2. Listening:
    1. listening for relevance (rather like reading for gist)
    2. monitoring (listening to spot something important)
    3. intensive listening (trying to understand as much as possible)
    4. extensive listening (listening to follow the main points of what is being said)
  3. Speaking:
    1. interaction (speaking to oil social wheels and maintain relationships with people)
    2. transaction (speaking to get something done such as getting a service, asking for information, giving an explanation etc.)
    3. turn-taking (understanding when to speak and when someone else wants to speak)
    4. long turns (holding the floor, giving presentations etc.)
  4. Writing:
    1. brainstorming
    2. understanding the audience
    3. planning what to write
    4. drafting
    5. revising
    6. polishing

We may focus on individual subskills but should not lose sight of the fact that people use many of them in combination or that, of course, most speaking also involves listening and much writing involves reading.

top down bottom up

Top down and bottom up processing

For the two receptive skills in particular, the knowledge that we use to understand can, very roughly and very briefly be divided into two sorts:

  1. Top-down processing uses:
    1. our knowledge of how a text is structured and where the important information will be
    2. our knowledge the world around us
    3. our knowledge the intentions of the writer or speaker
    4. our ability to predict what will be heard or read
  2. Bottom-up processing uses our knowledge of:
    1. the sounds and writing systems of English (phonemes, connected speech phenomena, spelling, punctuation etc.)
    2. the meaning of the lexis and idioms of the language
    3. the grammar of the language
    4. how links are made in texts using pronouns, conjunction and other devices


The structure of the assignment

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.

Some centres give you a choice of skills to write about, some may oblige you to focus on two specific ones and some may even give you a free hand.

This assignment is quite broadly based because the regulations require you to focus on both receptive and productive skills in relation to a piece of material or text (and for our purposes, the term 'text' applies to both written and spoken language).
Before you start, review the guide to Topic 3 of the CELTA syllabus.

This is in the genre of an Information Report and it has two parts:

It is very important here to show that you have done the reading and research.  This site is a source but you may have to get hold of some old-fashioned books on the skills.  Your centre will advise you but here's a short list of popular resources.


skills structure


Wait a minute!

Before you submit your assignment, here's a quick checklist.  You can have this as a PDF file by clicking here or you can mentally tick things off on the screen.

  1. I have chosen a suitably limited area to analyse
  2. I have made it clear in the introduction and the title what it is
  3. I have analysed the subskills learners need for the skill in question
  4. I have linked the analysis of subskills to the activities I suggest to develop each one
  5. I have said why the skill and its subskills may present problems for learners

Now assess yourself against the criteria for the assignment.  Here they are again.  Have you been able to:

Your tutors will maintain a record of the work you have done on the written assignments and will grade each of the criteria as follows: NS (Not to Standard), S (at Standard) or S+ (above Standard).
You need to aim consistently for S or S+ grades, naturally.

If you have managed to tick all the items, well done.  Submit the assignment and move on.


Investigating the skill

This site is a good place to start but you will also, presumably, have access to references of one kind or another (see the list above).
Once you have decided (or been told) which skills you are analysing, use these links to find what you want on this site:

Search the whole site
The A-Z index
The initial-plus skills index
The CELTA written assignment guides:
Focus on the learner(s) Focus on skills
Focus on structure Lessons from the classroom