Lessons planning, organization and the management of the
Lessons from the classroom My decision to pursue the CELTA qualification was based on my understanding that it is the first step many teachers take to a long and rewarding career in teaching English to adults all over the world. Realistically, I don’t expect to leave at the end of this course having become a great teacher. I only expect to be exposed to the methodology and to be guided on how to improve my skills for the future. Achieving the required standard will give me the tools upon which to build a future career in teaching.My strengths in the first two weeks have been in planning, organization and the management of the classroom. Within a given framework I am able to focus on an objective and then strive to achieve that goal. I feel that with a properly written plan and the support of appropriate materials I can achieve my aims.
Vivienne Emery pointed out this strength in planning and organization in her feedback from my third teaching practice. I have also tried to maintain a cohesive thread in my lessons to lead the students through the material smoothly.My use of visuals such as the pictures of my nephew and his new girlfriend in lesson three, as well as the polar bear in my garden, from lesson four, have imparted a greater sense of realism to the lessons I have taught. The students appeared to have been more engaged and this has resulted in better lessons for them. I am used to addressing groups and find working with the students very enjoyable.
This makes management of the class easier and I haven’t had a problem with being heard and for the most part, understood.One of the areas that I need to work on is concept checking the relevant points for new vocabulary items and to grade the questions accordingly. I made the error of using ‘relentless’ to try and check understanding of the verb ‘hound’ during my second lesson, unfortunately, it was not understood by the class. In my fifth teaching practice I erred in focusing my CCQs on the activity of the model sentences, rather than the activity being irritating behaviour. The drilling of sentences after concept checking has also proven to be an area in which I will need to improve.I have allowed the students to over run me in their enthusiasm to practice and it could be detrimental to the group learning as a whole.
This was particularly evident in my lesson ‘Expressing Irritation’. Some of the model sentences were longer requiring back-chaining and the students should have been asked to listen before repeating. The area in which I feel I need the greatest improvement is with my understanding of the rules and structure of grammar. My first lesson brought this sharply into focus when I was unfamiliar with the structure of the language.The Pre-Intermediate class I observed on October 26th offered a chance to observe the other CELTA students.
Nick was very effective in grading his speech and speaking at a slightly slower pace to allow the students to better comprehend him. I found that his choice of language and rate of speech were easily understood by the students as evidenced by his ability to elicit the desired model sentences from them. His lesson was on ‘Comparatives’ and the context was Madrid and London. The students were using the simple present and simple past tenses and Nick’s eliciting of sentences like, “London is older than Madrid. and “ Madrid is better than London” was done without apparent difficulty.
Rebecca’s lesson to the Pre-Intermediate students focused on ‘Superlatives’ and used the context of comparisons between things in England, Spain and Australia. The areas compared were kept simple; they were road lengths, beaches and animals. Rebecca used simple photos that easily illustrated the wide gap her lesson required to show the difference between the two extremes. For example the animal used were a rabbit, a German shepherd dog and a great white shark used to illustrate the degree from the least dangerous to the most dangerous animal respectively.Regarding ‘Effective Teaching’, I believe one of the greatest assets to this is rapport. From the observed lessons I’ve seen, I feel that the teacher who has the best rapport with his students is George.
George was comfortable in his class and with the students. The students seem to have every confidence in their teacher and respect him as he respects them. The manner in the class was light hearted with the music in the background easing the sometimes-awkward quiet periods while students worked. When a student arrived forty minutes late he was accepted and the matter was dealt with lightly.
George stated that normally he would have had the student wait until the next class but today was an exception as the student claimed he had been ‘ill’. George’s lesson focused on the ‘Third Conditional’ with the student first assembling a jumbled sentence, then George elicited the target language before teaching it briefly and re-testing. The students were engaged and you could see that they enjoyed and were familiar with his more informal approach. Though highly personal, this is in my opinion an effective style. I will be striving to improve my personal performance over the next two weeks in the areas mentioned above.
I will be going over my CCQs with fellow students while I am able to as well as studying ‘Concept Questions and Time Lines’ by Graham Workman (2006). To improve my drilling of model words and sentences will require a slightly stronger hand in the classroom to control the students. Not an impossible task but one that I will need to be careful to do effectively. My biggest challenge comes from studying grammar and I will need to focus more attention on grammar study in addition to striving to be as conversant as I can be within the areas I am asked to teach.
After the completion of the course I will need to continue my language study in China. This will be particularly important as I will be the head of my own school and will need to set a good example. To that end I will continue to refer to Michael Swan’s ‘Practical English Usage’ as well as delving into Tony Penston’s ‘A Concise Grammar for English Language Teachers’.
Phonologically I will need to address the desire for students in China to learn a British accent, as it is preferred over the American model. This may entail suppressing some of my Canadian modelling and language usage for their benefit.