Tagged: celta

Cooking Unplugged (or: the roaring in the oven)

Recipes for Tired Teachers by Chris Sion

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about food recently. Granted, this soon after the festive excesses of the Christmas/New Year period, the last thing you may want to read about is food, but please bear with me for a while.

Recent debate over in Chia Suan Chong’s Devil’s Advocate blog series drew my attention back once more to an analogy which links teaching and food: the idea of lesson recipes.

“First, pre-heat the oven to 220°c”

The metaphor of a recipe pervades discussion of lesson structure both at pre-service level and beyond.  There was even a highly popular book based on this analogy.

Continue reading

A Different Kind Of Scaffolding in ELT

Acknowledgement: Photo by Kim Traynor (hosted at Wikipedia)
Thanks to Kim Traynor for this image

There was a trainee teacher on my last CELTA course who had come to us without any academic background to speak of but with a wealth of life experience; in the end, he turned out to be one of the most interesting trainees I’ve worked with. Continue reading

Powerful beyond measure

This is to the teachers I am working with on our current CELTA course.

We have come a long way since the beginning, two weeks ago.  Through your journals I have had the privilege of following your developmental and emotional journey.

Of all the ideas, thoughts, questions and wishes that keep recurring, one of the most frequent is that of fear.

This has been expressed by each of you, each in your own way, at some point up to now in the course. Here are two comments that caught my attention:

I’m scared to take risks because I’m being assessed.

I didn’t feel confident enough to do something new.

I can understand where you are coming from, but I would like to tell you now that the time for fear is over. Continue reading

Dear Diary…

Journal page image
Well, you’ve got to start somewhere…

On our CELTA courses up to now, we have maintained an approach to finding out what our trainees thought about their teaching that is fairly typical of such courses: we ask them to write a self-evaluation after they have taught, which they submit to us before we sit down with them to discuss the lesson. Continue reading

Security Theatre in ELT

A common feature of many initial teacher training programmes is a strong emphasis on detailed paper-based lesson planning. Whether this actually increases teacher preparedness to teach is questionable.

Prompted by a TED Talk on Security Theatre and risk assessment, I suggest that focusing on anticipating problems and trying to eliminate perceived lack of control in lessons may not be helping new teachers truly come to terms with the realities of the classroom.

You can watch the TED Talk by Bruce Schneier, “The Security Mirage”, here:http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/bruce_schneier.html

Why ELT needs to cut like a knife

Thiers knife
Every boy should have a penknife…

A few weeks back I was working with a group of CEF B2 learners. I had recently returned from a holiday in France and had brought a souvenir back with me: a pocket knife made by hand in the traditional heart of French blade-making, Thiers.

The knife itself (as you can see in the picture) is not particularly attractive or interesting – there were many other shinier, more beautifully made display pieces in the dozens of specialist shops in the town.

But this was the one that had found its way from a mediaeval town in France into a language class in a Hanseatic town in Germany. Continue reading

Own Experience?

About a week ago, this comment appeared on my blog:

Hi Anthony, I had an interesting chat with some other TEFLers and 1 person was positive that pre-CELTA teaching really helped him on his CELTA. This would fit in with reflection but do you think it’s important to only accept people with some teaching exp or even to recommend they get some before starting?


I replied that I thought prior language teaching experience was less important to me than prior language learning experience, and this post started life as an explanation of that view.

However, it also got me thinking about the whole issue of experience and the problems related to working with it. Continue reading

Teacher Training Unplugged Hits Harrogate

Izzy and I have just returned from the IATEFL conference in Harrogate, UK – a 4-day whirlwind of ideas and experiences. One reason for going was to hold a workshop on our recent attempts to approach CELTA teacher Training in a Dogme-like fashion, and to help beginning teachers learn to teach this way from scratch.  We were were videoed for the online version of the Conference, Harrogate Online, so we can share it with you here:

We would love to know what you make of it – the audience at the conference and online at the virtual conference were positive about what we had to say and how we went about saying it – which was gratifying as we were both scared about being first-time presenters!

We have added dedicated pages for both this video and an online interview we were asked to do for the online conference after our presentation. We had a great time and would like to thank everyone we met and spent time with!

Throwing down the gauntlet

We are language teachers and teacher trainers working on initial teacher training courses in Hamburg, Germany.  During the course of our work we have constantly sought to refine our course design and delivery so that it provides the best training experience for the people who come to us as possible.  Over the years this has led to us looking closely at the syllabus requirements of the awarding body that we work with, Cambridge ESOL, as well as “best practice” as embodied in the course design of other centres that we are in contact with.

We were proud of the course that we had developed over time and this pride did not seem entirely unfounded: our graduates gave us consistently positive feedback; external assessors and moderators were almost always very happy with our work; colleagues familiar with our approach regularly asked to borrow our ideas.  Resting one our laurels would have seemed a reasonable position to take, on the face of it. Continue reading