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 0 to Day 1
DAY 2: Receptive Skills
So, today is the first day of “proper” input and, for the trainees, the eagerly anticipated first lesson. I did a session on Receptive skills – reading and listening. It’s a good first session as the structure that emerges is fairly clear and simple, easy to grasp and implement. It neatly avoids the scary stuff like grammar.
I look at reading, and people always expect that a reading lesson will involve students in reading a text aloud. Nothing could be more terrifying for a student, and with a moment’s thought it becomes apparent that reading aloud is a pronunciation exercise; pronunciation is part of speaking, a productive skill, and it has nothing to do with reading. Reading aloud actually impedes comprehension as we worry about how we are saying things rather than focussing on what we are reading.
When do we ever read aloud anyway? When will our students ever need to read aloud in English? Once we’ve agreed that we aren’t going to ask our students to read aloud, we can look at what we can do to help students become more efficient, more effective readers or listeners. We can look at the different ways we read things. For example, we read the TV pages in a different way to the way we read the editorial pages of the newspaper. One Golden Rule is established: that we ALWAYS set a task for students BEFORE they start reading/listening so they have a reason for reading/listening and know what they are looking for. I think it is probably the only actual Rule in teaching. In almost everything else we are driven by pragmatism, not dogmatism.
As the afternoon approaches the nervous energy increases as people contemplate their first lessons in front of actual students. They’re almost always OK, but people are a bit nervous and typically this makes them speak a bit fast. Students in the practice classes are a bit reserved as a result. They don’t always quite know what is wanted of them, but they want to support the teacher, so they usually work out what to do and muddle through together. The better lessons are the ones where the teacher does less, putting the students at the centre and stepping back to allow the students time and space to speak and use language. A friendly smile and a speaking slowly are all that’s really needed in this lesson.
Want to know what happens next? Behind the Scenes of CELTA: Day 3 to Day 5
Not interested in a CELTA? There are other options.
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.
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