Saturday, 16 October 2010

The Legend of CELTA - A Preener Off-Time (End of Week 1)

After my lesson went well on Wednesday I was able to relax a bit. I didn't have anything really to prepare for Thursday since I wasn't teaching - I just had to look over the instructions for my lesson on Friday so I could dicuss them with the trainer. Our morning session included analysing the concept behind parts of language. The example was "managed to" as in "I managed to open the window", which is split into "I tried", "It was difficult" and "I succeeded". One reason for doing this is that when we do lesson plans in future we have to write up language analyses and file them with our other materials. We also learned about the basic stages of the two types of lesson (language and skills) which we also have to write for our plans.

The afternoon was a little boring because I wasn't teaching, and we had to watch the lessons of the other three trainees. Not that it was particularly boring, but when you have to sit still without participating for two hours you can get a bit antsy. Me and kindred spirit Roger passed the time by filling in silly answers on the handouts our classmates were using, though always aware of the threat of the teacher-trainer, who had warned us that she would have stern words for anyone laughing or talking during other trainees' lessons.

That evening I was feeling a bit like I'd drawn the short straw along with the other two who had been teaching on the same days as me. Not only had we had the first 40-minute lessons of the group, the day after our first 20-minute lessons, we also had 3 lessons in the first week and for the first time had to write lesson plans for them and hand them in by 2pm of the day of the lesson. The other three wouldn't have to do a lesson or plan until Monday, so got the whole weekend to work on them. I got my stuff together for my reading lesson okay, but I had trouble writing the plan, mostly because we hadn't been given an example of a lesson plan for a skills lesson. I did half of it and left the rest until I could ask a trainer.

I wasn't as nervous on Friday morning as I had been on Wednesday, but in a way my lack of nerves itself was a cause for concern. I thought my lesson was a good one, perhaps even an easy one to pull off, so I started to think that it would all just blow up in my face for my cockiness. I'd gotten good comments for my Wednesday lesson so it was almost inevitable that things would go downhill.

In the morning session we did a bit on language lessons where the target language (the grammar point, vocabulary or construction) is introduced through a text (listening or reading) as the context before studying it in detail. We then had a lesson on phonology, and spent a lot of time on the phonetic alphabet (that thing with the upside-down 'e's). At the end we were given either the question or punchline to a joke written in the phonetic alphabet and we had to work out how to say it and then find the person who had the other half of our joke. Mine was the old classic, "What do you call a deer with no eyes?".

I was last to teach in the afternoon lesson, so I was a little worried the students might be worn out, but I managed to get them interested in my lesson on holidays quickly with a picture of my trip to the Great Wall on my ipad. Using the technology for the win. They had to talk about different kinds of holiday, then had to guess the winners of five categories in the "100 places to visit before you die" survey. I put their predictions on the board before giving them the handout with the article on, and they had one minute to check their answers. I really enjoyed this part of the lesson because they were really into it. The problem was that I'd expected to have to go over more vocabulary, but they seemed to understand everything. At least, they said they did. In retrospect, I should have gone over it anyway. At the very least I could have helped with pronunciation. Anyway, after speeding through the first half of the lesson it became evident that the last parts would be stretched a little. After the second reading exercise (which they managed, but they didn't do the 'scan reading' as well as I would have liked) they had discussion time in pairs, but there was still 15 minutes left in the lesson so they had a LOT of time to do it. I got a "to standard, with strengths" for the lesson so it wasn't as good as my Wednesday lesson (according to the trainer) but maybe it's better I don't get overconfident and cease to learn anything.

After the day's teaching we went, as per CELTA course tradition, to the pub with the students so we had the chance to freely chat with them. It was nice, since we didn't have much time to talk to them in class except where it related to the lesson. I got home after 8, but I didn't mind since it felt worth it. The first week of CELTA was over and I was still alive, and having gotten my third lesson out of the way I didn't have as much to do over the weekend as some of the other trainees.


Anji said...

Sounds like it's going well. I suppose when you are in a real class you can have some word games up your sleeve for the last 10 minutes, if you need them.

I hate phonetics, this year I've had a teenager whose teacher is obsessed by them. We are both learning at the same time and, thank goodness, she is improving.

What do you call a deer with no eyes?

Jimijam said...

No idea

Anji said...