Saturday, November 12, 2016

What I Learned from the CELTA Course

My lessons had been more teacher-centered before. I used to conduct a pretty long detailed presentation of the target language, and focus more on controlled practice activities. Of course, I had my students carry out a lot of communicative activities that aimed at improving their communicative competence, but I used to over-help them and interfere more than necessary while they were working on fluency-based activities. Conducting the CELTA course at ITI Istanbul helped receive a professional training in ELT and get a better idea on current trends in Communicative Language Teaching Approach. 

The following are four areas I managed to develop in the CELTA course and they became part of my class afterward. 

Preparing a detailed lesson plan: I learned how to write a formal detailed lesson plan including primary and subsidiary aims, and conventional procedures for receptive and productive skills lessons. I also developed the way I prepare for language areas such as grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. A good lesson plan serves as a framework for the whole lesson and focuses teachers on those different stages of a lesson. Now I don't have time for writing a detailed lesson plan and I don't need to do so. As a full-time teacher, I write only the aims of the lesson and the stages that I will carry out during the lesson. However, there are several occasions where I have had to deviate from the lesson plan to cater for the variety of students' needs and demands. Click here to get a sample of a detailed lesson plan. 

Teacher talking time: My talking time as a teacher was a bit high in my lessons, and too high in the first teaching practice (TP).  Although I made good progress in reducing my talking time during the teaching practice, it seemed that I still needed to work on that issue more. In fact, keeping my talking time to a minimum was one of my main action points throughout the teaching practice. Now, I manage to reduce my talking time and make my lessons more student-centered by facilitating more pair, group, round-the-table activities that give students the chance to work together. As a teacher, I should be a facilitator who helps students learn with guidance and directs their learning (Jones, 2007).

Varying Interaction patterns: In one of my eight lessons, I had a few students and that made me forget to vary the interaction patterns. There was almost no student-to-student interaction for the first 30 minutes of my lesson. The lesson was teacher-centered and I opted for whole class feedback throughout the lesson and that increased my talking time too. Now I make sure to vary the interaction patterns during my lessons. Students should work in pairs and groups to discuss questions, share ideas, have a debate, check answers, and prepare for a role-play, etc. 

Sticking to context: In my third teaching practice, the context of the lesson was ‘family’ but I did not stick to it throughout the whole lesson. I used some exercises from other books with a different topic to enable the students to review and practice the formation of yes/no questions in the present simple, but I did not modify these exercises to be related to the context. Now I often stick to the topic of the lesson and adapt the supplementary materials to be related to the context because that would give students the chance to practice the target language using various activities in the same context.

Jones, L. (2007). The student-centered classroom. New York: Cambridge University Press

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