The following is a journal of one of our CELTA trainers as he goes through each day of the CELTA course. Here is what goes on behind the scenes in the very challenging CELTA program. Specific references to a particular group or time frame are not the most recent CELTA course. Click here for the previous article: Behind the Scenes of CELTA: Day 7 to Day 10
DAY 11: Giving Trainees the Controls
Monday Week Three… The smiles and cheeriness were a little forced for some members this morning. Another Assignment was to be handed in today, and the Language Tasks is returned. When we mark this, we are very picky. In our defence I would say that if you don’t analyse language correctly, you will be misleading students and if you can’t ask correct concept questions you will not be ensuring your students really understand the piece of language you are teaching; you will be failing in your duty towards your students. It is very demoralising to have your Assignment returned for resubmission, but this is something you really just can’t get wrong in the classroom. Usually, resubmissions are straightforward. The guidance from the tutors makes it clear what is required, and gradually the art of concept questions becomes less opaque… It’s just that there’s a whole lot of other things to be doing as well as doing resubmissions!
Today, too, there is the stress of starting teaching the new students. Today the teaching is unobserved and unassessed, but it is a bit like starting again. At least today the trainees can just settle with the new group working with pairs and threes and not having to formally teach the whole class. By the end of the day, it will be less scary.
I often talk about the Course in terms of a flight. This is the point where, if the Course was a flight, the captain would be coming on with his spiel about “tracking out across… or down the coast of… to the destination. He would mention the weather and expected arrival time and you know that up at the front he is pushing back, switching on the autopilot and tucking into his meal. This is the point on the Course where the tutors start to step back more and let the trainees fly themselves. Of course, we are still in the cockpit ready to take control again if we hit turbulence but now the main thrust has been delivered. Input sessions now tend to be more consolidation and trimming to keep the plane stable. Most of the key skills and knowledge for teaching have been delivered. In the final week, input covers issues that are not relevant to the actual passing of the Course but will prepare Trainees for life in the classroom; for their first teaching post. There is a little pinprick of light at the end of the tunnel.
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About the Author
Rick Ansell is the Senior Teacher Trainer at Saxoncourt Teacher Training. He has been teaching English since 1985 and has been training people to teach English since 1994. He loves seeing people realise there is a better way of helping people learn than the ways they were subjected to at school. He also loves watching people come to discover their own language as they realise how and why they use it the way they do. When I’m not teaching, he enjoys mountaineering and is an active fell runner, competing regularly on the British hills.