CELTA Week 3, Evening 6

Evening 6 (Thurs 2012-01-26)

This was the first teaching practice of the course and was based on the theme of “Speed Dating!”  Six CELTA trainees each giving a 20min teaching session to a class of 12 young adult professionals. I was the last to go. Was I nervous? Uh-Huh!!

The six sessions/trainees were arranged as follows:

  1. Warm up: Find Someone Who (has been outside Europe, does not like dancing, does martial arts, has a car etc) – a whole group activity, pairs compare, whole class feedback
  2. Reading for gist. Show picture: elicit “speed dating.” Pairs: discuss what speed dating is. Whole class feedback. Read article 1 to confirm. Whole class feedback.
  3. Vocab. Pairs: match vocab to definitions. Whole class feedback. Correct pronunciation. Show stress.
  4. Speaking and Reading. Define advantages and disadvantages. As group discuss adv & disadv of speed dating. Read article 2. As pairs, compare adv & disadv in the text. Whole class feedback.
  5. Vocab: reading in detail. Complete glossary by doing a find missing word, using overhead projector.  In pairs, answer 4 Qs about prev text. As group, feedback/compare answers.
  6. Speaking. Write 5Qs to use in speed dating. Do a mock speed dating activity with all students. Feedback.

1. Teaching Practice

I introduced myself in a fun way, then showed this pic, a bit at a time, asking if these Qs were a good way to start speed dating:

After eliciting that the person with the blue shirt might be George Clooney (!) I revealed my face and hat. It got a laugh!  I said that it was perhaps not the best way to  speed date and introduced the idea that there were different types of speed dating – you can use it for businesses and clients, for example, or to find friends rather than prospective partners. That led straight to: working in pairs, discussing and writing down 5Qs which might be used to find friends.  I put up a slide of the vocab we used last week as inspiration but this proved a mistake. My idea was to recycle vocab, to reinforce it, but it wasted half a minute: the fact that it was optional led to confusion, and perhaps my instructions were too vague – it was inefficient.

After they’d all written down a few Qs I stopped them, got everyone to stand up, pick up paper, pen AND chair, and come to the room centre.  This they duly did. Funnily enough, some students still didn’t get that this was going to be a real mock speed dating session so I had to straighten out some chairs, but we got there soon enough. I quickly handed out pre-prepared scorecards and sticky labels (marked with a British name) and set them off. It was great to see the fluid chatter taking place!

My bell was a rattled mug and spoon which surprised everyone, and was very effective at interrupting at the 3mins mark. I got one row to remain seated while the other moved along one place. I’d expected them to need moving two places since they’d previously been working in pairs so moving only one might have ended up with same Qs from a different person, but they had somehow randomised their seating.  One guy started going the wrong way which raised a laugh when I told him off!  They all sat and were very soon chatting again. I think they would’ve talked all night given the opportunity! One last ring of spoon and mug and it was back to their desks. I forgot to ask what their best questions were but there wasn’t time, and I don’t think it was really necessary – it was clear they’d enjoyed the task. A quick dishing out of homework: during the next week think of good Qs for speed dating and think of how you might reply if you were asked them; check local newspaper or Internet for speed dating in Oxford; and then I sent them on their way. I got a bit of a cheer and they were all in great humour when they left. Perfect, because two of my personal aims had been to build rapport and end the session on a high.

2. Feedback & Prep for next week

After the 2 hours of student tuition we had a short break and then a feedback session. I hadn’t really noticed before but I felt my stomach noticeably relaxing – I must have been quite anxious. One trainee said I’d looked calm and cool: he didn’t know the turmoil going on inside. T1 had thought all of the sessions were good – and they were. She said that we were one of the best she’d had so we all felt pretty chuffed! She’d been sitting in the corner, reviewing our lesson plans, timing us and writing comments as we’d been teaching. Totally unobtrusively – I hardly noticed her or any of the other trainees, thank goodness!  I did wonder if having onlookers would put me off but, surprisingly, it wasn’t a problem.

I had three pages of very positive feedback from T1. She highlighted my materials preparation, “excellent OH transparency, rapport and fun, plenty of student talking time.” I need to pay attention to my instructions. Apparently I said “What I’d like you to do is work in pairs and come up with 5 questions…” which could have been shortened. I suppose I could just have said “In pairs. Write 5 questions…”  These CELTA folk like short, precise, instructions even if they might seem a bit brusque.  I know it’s something I need to hone. I’m not sure how I’ll do that because the glue words just come out without thinking, automatically connecting the more important points.  Anyway, I’ll have to try!  I also need to “monitor students’ language & note good language & error for use in FB.” Fair enough.

I was delighted that my lesson plan received no negative criticisms. In fact it received an “extremely detailed plan – you’ve thought through the procedure and know what to do – very well done, you’ve set yourself a high standard” – who wouldn’t be happy with that?!

Next Thursday there’ll be four 30min sessions and, thankfully, I won’t be one of them. My turn will come the week after.

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