I had been teaching workers in the children and young people’s workforce for a number of years when I started the CELTA course. I already had experience of planning lessons, staging, timing and classroom management. I knew nothing about setting appropriate language aims. One of my main weaknesses was anticipating problems that students would have with particular lessons and in incorporating activities to suit the stronger students. This is partly because I am not very sure about what a beginner, intermediate or advanced learner knows. In our teaching practice we are given exercises to suit the different stages but I would not be very confident, even now, to choose exercises for myself.
Another weakness that I have is that although I am experienced at planning timing in lessons I have on several occasions in teaching practice gone over time. I am usually a facilitative teacher, which is a strength - in my experience people learn best when they work something out for themselves. However, it is also essential when using this approach to ensure that learners’ interest in words and grammar not related to the target language doesn’t overtake the lesson. It was also identified by Jan that I tended to allow feedback on exercises to go on for too long. It is at this point that I become less facilitative and sometimes repeat what the learners have already said.
One of my strengths is the development of resources. I enjoy looking for pictures that will amuse and interest the students – I think that people learn better when the resources pique interest. I also ensure that resources are culturally appropriate or culturally neutral such as making a paper airplane which illustrated the different forms of the verb ‘to make’. This was an effective tool for elicitation and is one that uses minimal resources.
Learning from watching experienced teachers
When I started the course I felt very nervous about...