Critical thinking irritation

Let’s think critically about critical thinking. 

I have always thought that the purpose of my work is to teach communicating in English with people from other countries as freely as possible. I’m not saying that such issues as critical thinking or unconformity don’t matter at all, but there seems to be a huge buzz around them. I love asking thought-provoking questions and discuss burning issues but I’m really reluctant to make it my major concern. If it’s such a crucial matter, why don’t they implement it as an independent subject in a school syllabus? I want to underline that I’m not against fostering critical thinking, actually, I’m quite in favour of it, but I’m starting to feel that too much importance is placed on this matter, so that it may well get you side-tracked. 

Teaching critical thinking is often opposed to ‘doing’ tests. But yes, some students really need tests for entering universities or just understanding where they are on the scale, whether they have moved a step forward. But to pass a test they don’t only need to know English well, but also to know how to approach one test or another and what is tested in each task. This also should be taught to facilitate the procedure and save time during a test. Unfamiliarity with a test format may lead to nervousness, time-consuming approaches to tasks and eventually to failing a test or doing it with a worse result than expected. Subsequently, it brings the feeling of disappointment and frustration which may be followed by discouragement to continue learning and improving.  Therefore I want to urge you to teach speaking and understanding English, to teach understanding the culture and mentality, to teach how to approach tests and to let critical thinking emerge in discussions created for practicing English.    

That’s all. Thank you. 

P.S. And, yes, I know that critical thinking is a 21st century skill and all that jazz. 

P.P.S. The picture portrays my view on cramming huge ideas into a framework of another huge idea that leads to a weird and eclectic phenomenon which doesn’t make sense.

IMG_2943-3.JPG

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.