Danny was a tutor on my Distance Delta course, and his presentation at IATEFL Glasgow was one of the most useful I went to all week. I’m hoping to be trained as a CELTA tutor in the near future, so this was an ideal talk to go to.
There are three main strands to Danny’s talk:
- Encouraging trainees on pre-service courses to work with emerging language during observed lessons.
- Exploring how trainees feel before going into a lesson like this…
- …and after (both after the lesson, and after the course).
Some issues (from trainees)
- They don’t believe they can do it.
- They worry about being put on the spot.
- They worry about losing control.
- They like the security of pre-planned input (however much they might moan about planning!)
- They don’t notice emerging language or “can’t hear it”.
- They can’t decide what’s important.
- They worry about putting students on the spot.
Danny believes from this that trainees think emerging language means ‘error’. He says that it’s also about questions students might have, like “What’s the word for ____?”
How do we encourage trainees to work with emerging language
On day 2 of Danny’s courses, they look at the meaning of language from a text he uses. They look at the questions students have in relation to that text. It helps the trainees to notice that they know more than the people they’re teaching – it’s not just about meta-language,
On day 4, they explore the kind of questions learners might have when setting up activities and giving feedback.
On day 6, they look at a coursebook double-page and how five different teachers interpret them. One of those interpretations is task-based learning, another is using emergent language,
On day 9, they have a session on TBL and working with emerging language. They think about what is likely to emerge from the interaction.
Day 9 then has the correction and reformulation slot, after emerging language has been dealt with.
Other parts of course design include:
- observation tasks which include a focus on emerging language. It’s better as an observation task than as input.
- no language analysis form in the lesson plan.
- retrospective language analysis forms, after the lesson.
The data is mostly drawn from students who have done this once from eight teaching practice sessions.
Danny also doesn’t mind if trainees ask for help during their teaching practice, if they get stuck.
When trainees come to him with these questions:
- When should I deal with language?
- What language should I focus on?
- What problems will the students have?
… he used to help a lot with this, but now he asks ‘Why don’t you see what happens?’
This helps to build up the trainees’ confidence with dealing with language.
“I felt quite nervous about it, not having specifically practised how to do it.” (Elizabeth)
“I’m not sure I’ve planned enough.” (Stefano)
“I was worried about only going into the lesson with a piece of an A4 and an anecdote and every other lesson took a lot longer to prepare, so I was more nervous.” (Neil)
Praise what your trainees are putting in front of you.
How did new language emerge?
From six or seven candidates’ lessons, they came up in questions about texts, Q&As…
How was the experience different?
- It felt like it went better than when I planned it.
- I felt like I was really present in the lesson.
- I felt like I was teaching the students, not the plan.
- I didn’t concentrate on one particular point, so I felt less constricted.
- I felt for the first time like I’d actually been teaching, rather than presenting. [this can often be a problem on Celta courses]
- I felt like a real teacher. (she felt like stuff would happen in the class – students would ask questions, she would answer them)
New techniques and skills
- “I learnt to listen and help them say what they want to say, rather than make them use a grammar point.” (Ros)
- “I realised I could take my time, which allowed me to use some techniques I’d learnt on the course.” (Joanna)
- “I realised I can answer questions about meaning if I know what they want.” (anon)
- “I realised it was just like monitoring, but to everyone.” (anon)
Planning for future lessons
- “It was nice not to have to guess what all the problems were going to be.” (Ros)
- I didn’t have to plan for 24 hours.
- I don’t need to overplan – if I leave spaces, things will emerge.
Some significant impacts
- It didn’t really impact the course, but now I do it all the time. (Elizabeth)
- It gave me more confidence in addressing students and braking down barriers. (Neil)
- It taight me I quite enjoyed teaching, which came as quite a shock. (Neil)
- You have to encourage trainees. They don’t trust themselves.
- They need to be reminded that they do have time.
- They will notice what emerges if they have to. They won’t if they’re teaching their plan.
- Feed it in early, demystify it.
- Make sure they know it’s not all about errors and jargon.
- Encourage them to look at teachers working with emerging language in observations.