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CELTA written assignment: focus on language structure


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 elements of the structure of the language

This is an overview only.  For more on structures, go to the initial-plus training index.  There are other links at the end for more help.
The structure of the language is often perceived in levels working from the bottom up.  This is not the only way to envisage structure but it works as a mental image of interlocking elements starting from small cogs and ending up with fully formed longer texts.
It looks like this:


Starting from the smallest units, we have:

  1. Phonemes: these are the sounds of English (or any language) and their study includes:
    1. vowels
    2. consonants
    3. connected speech
    4. intonation
  2. Morphemes: are the building blocks of words and the study of morphology includes
    1. bound morphemes which cannot stand alone (such as suffixes like -ed endings and word-forming endings like -tion and -ity, prefixes such as im- or dis-
    2. free morphemes which can stand alone but also appear in combinations such as appear + -ance
    3. word formation
  3. Words or lexemes: whose study includes
    1. word classes (open classes such as verbs, nouns and adjectives and closed classes such as prepositions, pronouns and determiners)
    2. relationships between words (antonymy, synonymy etc.)
    3. idioms and fixed or semi-fixed expressions
    4. multi-word units and compounds like cut across, look up and gaslight
  4. Phrases: which are collections of words doing the work of single items, including
    1. noun phrases (e.g., the old men in the corner)
    2. verb phrases (e.g., should have told)
    3. adjective phrases (e.g., horrible, great big, blue)
    4. adverb phrases (e.g., extremely quickly)
    5. prepositional phrases (e.g., in the house)
  5. Clauses: which contain verbs and potentially stand alone and whose study includes
    1. types of sentences
    2. subordination
    3. coordination
    4. conjunction
    5. adverbials and more
  6. Discourse: which concerns how longer spoken or written texts work and whose study concerns
    1. linking
    2. cohesion
    3. coherence
    4. spoken interaction and more

We may focus on individual parts of the language in teaching it but should not lose sight of the fact that people combine them all to make language work.


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.

Most centres give you a choice of structures to write about, some may even give you a free hand.

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


focus on systems 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
    1. the structural form
    2. the meaning and communicative function of the language
    3. the pronunciation issues to do with the language
  4. I have said why the form may present problems for learners from more than one background

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 language structure

Before you start, review the guide to Topic 2 of the CELTA syllabus.

In that guide, you were directed to sources of help and information:

A Basic Training Course This is a pre-CELTA course and this part will introduce you to some key grammar analysis.
A 10-unit Language Analysis Course This is a 10-unit course covering the elements of pronunciation, word class, content and function words, subjects and objects, tenses and aspects, modality, sentences (phrases and clauses), and text structures.
A Simple English Grammar This is written for elementary students and will help you to explain simply some grammatical ideas in the classroom.
Grammar reference materials For a list of grammars and some comments about which to use.
Search ELT Concourse If you are looking for something specific you have decided or been told to teach.
the A-Z index for an alternative way to search

The CELTA written assignment guides:
Focus on the learner(s) Focus on skills
Focus on structure Lessons from the classroom