One lesson before and after CELTA

I was recently covering another teacher and the lesson I was doing reminded me that I did the same one almost a year ago, before CELTA and some training sessions. I was happy to find this year-old plan and I think it’s interesting to compare these two lesson plans. Unfortunately, the integrity of the comparison is doubtful since at that time I knew something about teaching and I had the teacher’s book (winning strategy, right?). Moreover, the situations are different. One year ago I taught a group of about 6 students while a week ago it was an individual student via skype. But still there are some noticeable differences.

I decided to name the stages as they are in the book to keep it short. And I confess it’s not a really good lesson Idid a week ago, I just followed the book because I was too tired and, yes, lazy to do my  best (covering another teacher, you know – I’m not usually like that, believe me) and it’s what I regret doing now.




Done because it’s in the book. Open class discussion. Real questions not asked Done because I know what the aim of this stage is. Real questions asked, discussion emerged, but timing was good.


I handed out cards, cut in halves for matching in pairs, checked in open class feedback, discussed the meaning with translation. Used the exercise from the book. Discussed the meaning using CCQs and asked real questions personalizing sentences.

Checked how the student remembers the words with the book closed.


Done as it was described in the book: gist task, matching halves of sentences and checking by listening again. There were difficulties with understanding the text (to my surprise because speaking has been very good so far – it was the first time I worked with this student) so we listened twice for gist and second task we did without listening for the second time.

Grammar (Past Simple)

Explained the rules and formulas on the board. Students did exercises individually and then checked together. I used the listening exercise to get examples, elicited rules and formulas asking CCQs. We did the exercises with Demand High ELT method applied and a great deal of personalization. Much more time but better results.


Did as it is suggested by the authors of the book. Skipped this stage because of lack of time (timing is my biggest problem I guess)


Students tell each other about themselves answering questions from the book. The student answered the questions from the book and my own real questions.

Extra tasks

Discussing films about the topic (using pictures in the book) none


Then I thought what I would do if I had to teach a group now.

  • In Lead-in there would be pair work and open class feedback with real questions
  • Vocab – the same but personalization task would be done in pairs
  • Listening – I’d rather listen once and check the second task by listening again. There would be pair work before checking as a whole class
  • Just more pair work with grammar
  • I’d do pronunciation differently from the exercise in the book as it is too complicated there. I’d give the students 3 examples of verbs with the –ed ending and asked them to match them to transcription and then elicit the rule in open class. After that I would make a categorizing dictation followed by checking in pairs and discussing all together.
  • Speaking would also be based on pair work like one year ago, but I would ask students to come up with follow-up questions. Another option might be to transform it into a mingling task depending on the number of students.

What is significantly different?

1. I realize that the aim of each stage is important to know in order to reach it. The same for the lesson aim. So, I plan consciously.

2. I get more out of tasks and try to make them more like natural conversation.

3. Elicitation appeared instead of teacher’s speech in front of the board.

4. I’d say the whole explaining stage is different.

5. There is often some kind of linking between stages.

Personal feelings

1. I now have a kind of sense of direction while planning. If I don’t like any tasks from a course book I don’t hesitate to change them, but also I don’t try to invent something incredibly outstanding as well as very complicated spending all my free time to see it fail at the lesson.

2. I spend less time planning though I always complain that I don’t enough time for that.

3. It’s really difficult to remember how I approached planning before CELTA)

4. I believe that without the teacher’s book I would do much worse one year ago.


Now my question is:

Am I obsessed with pair work beyond measure or it’s bearable still?

But seriously, do you remember your teaching and planning before substantial training? What are the most visible differences?


What is encouraging in ELT!

I received great comments on my previous post about what discourages me in teaching after passing CELTA which was a kind of emotional outpouring. The comments made me think about how many wonderful things there are in our profession. Here is my top three.

Firstly and most importantly, it’s you. People who come, read, respond, care, contribute, suggest, advise, support, like, dislike, argue, convince, write, answer… Since I started my blog I’ve got to know so many people who have made my professional life different. And I think it’s difficult to overvalue your impact on my development.

In case I have a bad day and hate the idea of making my brains work I can always get inspired by you. Today I got up really early and by the middle of the day I felt worn out but after reading wonderful and inspiring Hana Ticha’s post not only have I done half of my ‘to do’ list but also I’m writing this post, though I usually have time for writing only at weekends. What’s interesting, Hana might also be tired and unwilling to do anything (it happens to everybody I guess) at the same time as me, but still I found some encouragement in what she does.

Secondly and also very important, there is endless room and means for improvement. Right, the amount of information is sometimes a bit intimidating, but bearing in mind the fact that perfection has no limits I reconcile with my unsatisfied perfectionism and embrace the idea of life-long learning.

Thirdly and as important as your support, I am over the moon when my lessons go well and I see that my students have achieved something, I get the results I have been expecting for a long time, students overcome their difficulties and fight their fossilized mistakes, they reach a tiny bit higher level, they exit a classroom with a smile on their faces satisfied with what they have just done. There is no need to continue the list as you all know it well.

So, I’m just writing to say that I have a good day and I’m satisfied with my morning lesson and I’m happy to be in this huge worldwide teaching community.

P.S. People of other professions must have gone greet out of envy after reading this post.

What is discouraging after CELTA?

It is a spontaneous post and the list is obviously not complete, but here are some issues that drive me crazy.

  • I don’t have time to plan properly therefore I encounter various problems due to insufficient planning and feel awful exiting a classroom. Since CELTA it has been a couple of times when I was more or less happy with my lesson.
  • I spend all my free time planning and feel overwhelmed by work. My acquaintance has recently asked me what I do for entertainment, I said “Work or read Tweeter (that is about work as well)”. Frankly speaking, I love my job, I enjoy teaching, but sometimes it’s too much.
  • Tons of information including non-CELTA-way of teaching shatter my unstable foundation, unstable – due to the lack of proper experience. By ‘proper experience’ I mean lessons which I am satisfied with. That leads to the feeling of trying to build a house on wholes. I am trying to say that it would be brilliant if I could become confident in CELTA-way teaching first to be able to move on, but I can’t due to the reason listed above.
  • There occur situations which I wasn’t prepared for during the course. One of the most frequent situations with Russian students (don’t know about others but my colleagues and I face it) is that they stubbornly resist trying to infer meaning through picture/example/text/situation/explanation/whatever. For instance, I need to explain the word ‘a pot’. I show a picture and say ‘This is a pot’. Believe me, I found a good picture! And some students still claim to say what the Russian translation is. It’s like trying to break a wall using your head – painful and unproductive. Some of them even get angry and I know why – they feel insecure and afraid of looking stupid, they are used to different teaching approach (grammar-translation I mean). So what shall I do?
  • Small groups is another problem. I have a very limited range (if it can be called so) of interaction patterns when I have a group of 2 or 3 people. I am collecting ideas and tricks on how to vary interaction in such groups. It’s one more ‘entertainment’.

What were you anxious of frustrated about shortly after CELTA? Or maybe what are you disappointed with now?