Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Legend of CELTA - Legs A-Shakening (Days 2 and 3)

I didn't post last night because after a day at the school and prep in the evening, I needed a break. But I have no prep to do for tomorrow (other than a little checking over of Friday's lesson) so here's my second two days on CELTA summed up.

The morning sessions at the school follow the same pattern. After everyone's arrived we have a class about either an aspect of teaching of an aspect of language. Yesterday, Boswell, who's one of the three teacher-trainers who's running the course told us we were going to cover the present continuous form, and we should take out our notebooks and copy down what she was saying. She spoke quickly and went over the uses and construction of the form and then told us to write ten example sentences. Most of us had had a hard time keeping up with the explanation but everyone was going along with it until Carol, who's in my teaching group asked, "Are you having us on?". "Yes, yes, I am," was the reply. The point of the exercise was to show us everything that was wrong with that style of teaching, how it alienates the students by giving them no involvement and how 'teacher talk' should be kept to a minimum. She then started again and used a scenario drawn on the board to introduce the grammar, and got most of the information from us. In a good language class, teaching should be about almost getting the students to teach themselves. It's a bit like when Socrates coaxes the slave in the Meno to answer his mathematical questions. It's a far cry from anything I was doing in Japan.

Yesterday afternoon all six members of all groups had a 20-minute teaching session with our classes. Mine involved going over the grammar of answering questions of the forms, "Did you...?", "Have you...? "Are you...?" etc and then playing a game with cards to practice. It went well, the students were engaged and I got good comments (a "to standard, with strengths" according to the course criteria), though I was nervous the whole time, despite my three years' experience. I was also told to stop "echoing" - repeating what the students (or I) have said. I never saw it as a problem before, since in Japan I was teaching 40 students who would answer very quietly, so I would repeat the answer so everyone could hear. Repeating instructions was usually necessary because the students' level wasn't so high. Anyway, it's a habit that I now have to try to get out of.

I got home late yesterday after doing photocopying at the school to prepare for my lesson today, which was 40 minutes on grammar. I spent an hour or so writing out exactly what I was going to do in the lesson in addition to preparing my handout. I went to bed at a reasonable hour, and my dreams were filled with people from the course and lessons and planning and waking up was a bit of a relief.

I was nervous and for the second day in a row I struggled to eat breakfast while watching the Chilean miners on tv. The stomach butterflies won out and I couldn't finish my cereal, and I had to head to the school so I could do some more photocopying. I finished my two-sided handouts and made a transparency for the OHP (how retro is that?) before the morning session started.

This morning, we watched a DVD that looked to be from the 80s where a teacher taught a class on the past perfect tense. She did it by telling a story about her car breaking down on her way to a Simply Red concert (LOL) and through lots of questioning managed to turn the students towards the 'marker sentence' "When I got to Wembley, the concert had started." It was impressive how much she got the students to do themselves and how late in the lesson it was before she actually wrote anything on the board. After this session we had one with Sabadi on using texts, and about different kinds of reading and listening. There was then time in our groups for those teaching tomorrow to discuss their lessons with the trainer, while the rest of us stressed about our after-lunch lessons.

I was second to go in our group after all, and I was able to fulfil the aims of the lesson in the 40 minutes I had, though some stages perhaps ran too long and others didn't have enough time. I got the only "above standard" in our group, which I was really happy about, though I was aware that I was still echoing some of the time. Those of us who taught today got our lesson instructions for Friday to look at and ask about tomorrow, but other than that I don't have any prep to do tonight. Phew. It gets tougher from hereon in, though, because in addition to lessons we will soon have to start handing in proper lesson plans, and we also have four assignments to do over the four weeks. Still, it's a relief to know that tomorrow I don't have to do any teaching.

1 comment:

Anji said...

Sounds like you're a natural. Always remember your students won't know what you are planning to do. Very useful when I got out my notes one day and found they were for the wrong class. I managed to keep going for the whole lesson anyway!