My attempt to do reflective practice challenge

Inspired by Zhenya Polosatova and John Pfordresher I’ve decided to challenge myself to improve my teaching by doing ELC (Experiential Learning Cycle) and I plan to do it the following way.

I will take into consideration one aspect of teaching which I’m concerned about and during some period of time (let’s say one month) I will describe, analyse and work on it in order to make my teaching more effective and also to create a habit of conscious teaching.

Starting from this week I’m going to work on setting tasks which is one of my weakest points in teaching.

Yesterday I had a grammar focused lesson on countability and expressing quantity in my Business English Upper-Intermediate group. There were only 2 students yesterday.

I am going to analyse a freer practice task setting.

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Lesson plan – In a cafe (NEF Elementary)

Now I want to share a lesson plan with you and I’m looking forward to your comments and opinions.lesson-plan

So, it’s New English File Elementary Practical English Unit 3 “In a coffee shop”.

I need to say that not everything went as I had expected and after some time spent reflecting on how I should have done it better I’m going to write the second version here. If you’re interested to know what my mistakes were just let me know in the comments.

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I PASSED CELTA!)

Actually I did it some time ago but it took me a lot of time to sort out my notes and bring all the ideas together.

Firstly, if you have read a lot of scary posts about CELTA saying how tiring it is and how everybody has struggled with lessons and assignments – well, it’s true. But all I can remember now is how cool the tutors were, what brilliant and unique people I have met, what an incredible experience I had living there, how I have improved myself and yes, how much fun I had there. So, if you are afraid of it as I was before the course, be sure it will be cool and it will be fun.

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The first CELTA-week

The actual 5 days are gone and I haven’t really noticed. It’s so busy here)

The very next day after the CELTA started I was supposed to teach and it wasn’t as hard as they say. Tutors provide you with a rough lesson plan. All you need to do is to adapt some material and think how you’re going to explain the material and tasks. Nobody expects you to show some outstanding teaching from the beginning and it’s OK to make mistakes and nobody will tell you that you’re doing something wrong. As for constructive criticism, they will tell you how to do it better next time and it’s really useful information.

That’s pretty the first part of the second day including Assisted Lesson Planning for another group of three trainees.

About the teaching practice: students have three 45-minute lessons with a 15-minute break 4 days a week. So, if you’re the third to teach, you’ll have the break to get ready.

The second part of the day is dedicated to input sessions which are both informative and entertaining.

On Wednesday we got to know about the first assignment which is connected to language analysis. Native-speakers struggle the most because they hardly know a lot of language terminology.

The best piece of advice I’ve got so far is while thinking what activity to choose or how to teach something think about students first and after that about your teaching.

The first CELTA-day

Despite the fact that I’ve read a lot about CELTA beforehand, the information received during the first day is kind of mess in my head. Nevertheless, I am in high spirits due to the fact that our tutors are really funny and positive and we laughed a lot today. So, let me tell you how it was step by step.

Firstly, we arrived to the school and waited in the hall. There are about 18 trainees on the course which is not much, while as I was told it’s usually around 30. At 9 sharp we were led to our room where we had ice-breaking games and I managed to learn all the names! Usually it’s my weak point(

Next section of the day was dedicated to observing lessons which was really thought-provoking as the teacher appeared to have constructed the lessons out of nothing. What’s more, we got acquainted with our students and I managed to learn their names too. Well done, me!

After a break we were told all general information about the course and the requirements, we also got instructions on paperwork we are to do during the course and filled in some forms.

Then we had so-called Assisted Lesson Preparation when we were given topics and short lesson plans for our first lessons. Our tutor helped us to develop them so that we just need to put it in the form of plan for ourselves and add some questions which are not given in our course book. I must admit that it’s not that awful as I imagined and teaching the very next day is OK after such preparation together with your group and the tutor.

Finally, we had a foreign language lesson aimed at putting us in learners’ shoes so that we feel the way they feel and to tune us in for the next day which appears to start with me teaching.

A bit about fellow-trainees:

The people on the course came from different countries and all of us have totally different background, but still all of us are very kind and helpful.  I’m really happy to be here with these people.

A bit about tutors:

We have 3 tutors who make the learning process engaging and interesting. They also provide us with all the necessary information (several times if necessary) so you won’t forget or miss anything.

A bit about students:

A group of guys we are supposed to work with for a couple of weeks made me feel more confident. They are so active and positive. You will never face a problem when a student refuses to participate or any other tricky situation.

Never underestimate CAE tasks

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Isn’t it a tricky test? I would like to create tasks for this kind of exams)
A-ha-ha!!!
But still it’s just me who made it difficult. Has it ever happened to you?

As you might know, while preparing for exams and doing a lot of practice tests you figure out which tasks are easier for you and which require the most of your concentration and attention, therefore approaching ‘easier’ tasks you subconsciously relax and lose kind of mind agility. And it’s the time when a failure comes. That’s what happened to me at the last task of CAE. I got used to considering Listening Part 4 the easiest possible task, while Part 2 always made me gather all my skills, concentration and apply multi-tasking. It actually turned out to be quite the opposite! Though I completed all the tasks, I’m really not sure about some answers. I just didn’t listen when I needed.
So, I think there is no need to describe my experience of taking the exam. Just a piece of advice: don’t lose your concentration till the end. It’s an insidious test.
But the examiners are usually really kind and positive. Entering the room, just smile and relax. Try to make it pleasant and interesting for you.
Personally, I enjoyed it a lot. And I hope (due to the result) it’ll be the next signpost in my career.

Have you ever taken CAE or FCE? What are your impressions? What advice can you give? Do you agree with mine?