In the previous post, I took a look at the syllabus, without going too deeply (not yet, anyway). If you haven’t seen the pretty mindmaps, you can do so here.
In this post, I’d like to delve into what the examiners are looking for in the candidates. Let’s first recall the mindmap of the syllabus overview I did for that post.
For each of this topic, the candidate is expected to
- determine the needs of their learners, bearing in mind their backgrounds and their learning preferences
- demonstrate awareness & knowledge of the English language and teaching strategies
- know what the language skills are and how these may be acquired
- plan & prepare lessons to develop the language competence of their learners
- show a range of teaching skills as well as “professional awareness and responsibility”.
It is often said that CELTA is a practical course, but, in truth, there is also the other side of the coin. Assessment basically comprises of two parts: the practical, which is, in effect, planning and teaching; and the written, which consists of four assignments, one for each of the topics except topics 4 & 5, which are combined for the fourth and final written assignment.
In If we could bottle time, I mentioned that the course will have a minimum of 120 contact hours. So, what can we expect to happen in class? For this, I’ve done another diagram.
Notice that the observation of experienced teachers are done live and by video. Up to 3 hours of video observation is permitted by Cambridge. Seville is using dvds for two observation classes.
Remember that I also mentioned that Cambridge reckons we will need an extra 80 hours? While I’m at it, I’ll map these extraclass activities, too.
If you’ve done or are doing CELTA, what do you think? Is this about right? Thanks for all feedback!
The language analysis assignment is quite straightforward. It’s in two parts, grammar and vocabulary. You’re given a particular grammar structure or lexical items, and you have to analyse it and explain how you would go about teaching it. That’s about it really. It might sound simple, but that doesn’t make it easy!
During the course you’ll learn how to introduce target language, more than likely in this order:
Meaning, Form, Pronunciation, Appropriacy
For both grammar and vocabulary items, we were told to lay the analysis out like this:
a) Analysis of meaning (say what it means!)
b) Describe how you would convey the meaning
c) Check students understanding
d) Highlight the form
e) mention any phonological features of the target language
Here are some general tips:
- For conveying the meaning of a grammar point, you should think about putting the target language in a context. For a word or phrase, think about how ‘concrete’ the word is – you might be able to just show a picture of it, draw it, mime it, etc. It might not be as complicated as you think.
- To check understanding of a grammar point, timelines might be useful. Also, use concept checking questions (CCQs). It’s worth getting in the habit of using these as you need them often when you’re teaching. Don’t worry, I’m still bad at thinking of them on the spot, and I’ve been teaching 5 years!
- ‘highlighting the form’ might include giving collocations – words that commonly go alongside the target language. E.g. if you were teaching the word ‘promise’, it might be relevant to teach ‘break a promise’ and ‘keep a promise’
- Features of pronunciation which might be worth teaching include contractions (I am = I’m) and weak forms, among other things.
- Whichever target language you are asked to analyse for this assignment, the level of the students should be considered very carefully. Make sure you’re not complicating things by using difficult vocabulary, grade your language appropriately.
- You might have to mention ‘appropriacy’ when you teach a language item. This means whether it is ok to use the item in certain contexts (e.g. formal/informal situations)
I’m sure you’ll get plenty of advice from your tutors on how to do this task. Still, here’s an example of how I did one grammar point and one vocabulary item. You can download my full assignment if you want to see how it looked. The word limit for this assignment was 1000 words which I’d say is plenty for a thorough analysis of each item.
(note: V1 = present simple, V2 = past simple, V3 = past participle)
Example grammar answer:
Target structure: she’s just gone out
a) Analyse the meaning
‘she’s just gone out’
She was at home (i.e. somewhere). Now, she’s not at home. She only left home a short time ago.
b) Convey the meaning
At ten past six, I arrived at Lady Gaga’s house. I knocked on the door [action]. Her mum opened the door.
I said to her mum, “is Lady Gaga at home?”
Her mum said, “sorry, Lady Gaga is not here”.
I said, “Oh, er… me and Lady Gaga have a date at six o’clock. ”
Her mum said, “You are late. Lady Gaga was here at 6pm, but she’s just gone out”
c) Checking meaning
Is Lady Gaga at home now? No
Was she at home at six o’clock? Yes
So, she left home a long time ago? No
(use the above to aid explanation, showing the event happened in the recent past)
She hasjust gone out
S + has / have + Adv V3
(bold shows stress)
She’s just gone out
with ‘out’, this makes a phrasal verb – ‘gone out’. With phrasal verbs, the stress is on the preposition
Example vocabulary answer:
Target word: Library (elementary)
a) Meaning analysis
A room or building where you can borrow books (DVDs, etc), read, study, etc.
b) Convey meaning
Display the picture above. Elicit if possible, or model the word.
c) Checking understanding
Is this a book shop? No
Can I take the books? Yes
Can I read here? Yes
In here can I TALK LIKE THIS!!!!!!! (loudly…) No
d) Form: Library is a noun. It is countable (‘library’ becomes ‘libraries’). ‘Library book’ is a common collocation.
e) Phonology: The stress is on the first syllable. The word is sometimes spoken as only two syllables (i.e. ‘lai-bri’, not ‘lai-brer-ri’). Although not incorrect, it might be best if the teacher chooses one spoken form and is consistent.
A final tip on this assignment. You might find that it takes a while to analyse each item thoroughly. Don’t worry. It does get easier with practice. Make the most of the time you spend on this assignment and really think about the process you are undertaking – it will become commonplace in your lesson planning. Good luck with the assignment!