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A CELTA teacher's toolkit: the introduction


Nothing can properly replace live teaching of real students observed by an experienced and knowledgeable tutor and these short guides are not intended to do that.
On your CELTA course, you are going to do a good deal of teaching, possibly, depending on your course programme, starting with mini-lessons and working your way up to longer sessions where a range of skills needs to be demonstrated.
Over a course, you must be assessed teaching for a minimum of six hours and observe more experienced practitioners for a further six hours.

These short guides cover the most important things you need to think about when you are planning and preparing to teach and when you are teaching.  Each part is quite short a we will try to keep it simple, practical and accessible.
There are tasks to do as you go along so have a pen and paper hand.
There are a number of parts to this mini-course because there's a lot to cover so use the menu on the left to select the sections you need now.
There are other links on the left which take you to the indexes of teaching-related guides in the initial plus section of the site.

Before you embark on any of the sections, we need to get two things straight: the difference between telling and showing and the ability to recognise which part of a lesson is serving what function.


Show me how to do it

There are, if you look for them, quite a lot of videos of people teaching various aspects of the language on the web.  Unfortunately, few are completely free or do not require you to sign up and register before you can view them.  Many are commercial undertakings designed to make a little money (yours in this case).  Even more unfortunately, some videos (and we will mention no names) are very poor examples of teaching methodology although they may be useful to help you recognise what you should avoid doing.  If you compare what you see with the advice below, you'll be able to detect them.

The other issue to get out of the way here is how learning (yours) on a CELTA course (or most other initial training programmes) happens or is intended to happen.
Simply put, CELTA-level courses are a form of on-the-job training.  Less politely, it is called sitting at Nellie's knee and even less politely monkey-see-monkey-do training.
You are expected to watch how someone else (usually one of your tutors or someone on a video) does a bit of teaching and then encouraged to emulate what you have seen.  Copy it, in other words.  This sort of training can be very effective if two conditions are met:

  1. What you observe is a master practitioner at work, not a novice or a poor teacher.
  2. You are helped by a good trainer to notice the salient parts of the behaviour you are observing and ignore the peripheral matters.

On good courses, both these criteria will be met; on others they will probably not.
You may also hear your tutors talk darkly of something called loop input.  Briefly, what this means is that the content of the training you receive is relevant to what you need to know and is presented in a way that you can emulate in the classroom.
For example, if you are learning how to develop reading skills in the classroom, you may be given a text on reading skills and a set of tasks, the types of which you are encouraged to copy with your learners.  In this way, not only is the material relevant but the way the material is used is an exemplar of how to handle reading texts in the classroom.  For more, see Woodward (2003).
Loop input training is frequently used on initial training courses (and its use is even more often claimed, despite appearances) and good trainers can adapt and present things in a way that acts both as a source of information about teaching and an example of how to teach.  Not all trainers are actually that good but that is another matter.

However, this is not the only way to learn and this guide takes the view that you an intelligent and insightful person who can read and understand some simple advice and put it into practice without having to sit at someone else's knee and be shown what to do.
If that is also how you see yourself, read on.


What follows?

Lots of different things happen in classrooms and the mass of data you are exposed to if you watch a good teacher at work can sometimes be overwhelming so we are going to try to break things down into bite-sized chunks to get the wood out of the way of the trees.

? To start us off, try a matching task.
Read through the whole task before you start and then match the activity to a description of what is happening in the classroom.  The exercise is timed: you have two minutes.
Click on the ? to start the test.

How did you do?
The test was not very difficult and this course covers each of the phases you identified and elaborates a little about how you should conduct the various phases of a lesson.
At the beginning of an initial training course, you will probably not be asked to conduct more than one or two phases but later on, you will have to do all of them.

Now you are in the right place to use the menu on the left to access the guides you need.


More help with teaching

There are lots more guides covering all sorts of teaching skills on this site.

For links to those, try:
planning for CELTA  What to include and how to set out a CELTA lesson plan
teaching on CELTA this covers more of the background to planning, deciding on lesson shapes, dealing with feedback and so on.  It is a more general guide focusing on the whole area.
materials for teachers for help with designing lessons and tasks, including a lesson plan with materials for an example lesson
structuring lessons for a bit more on how to make sure a lesson has a logical progression
being clear for more on ways to make teacher talk clear and efficient
concept-checking questions for the guide to what these are, why they are used and how to ask them
grouping learners a guide to matching the way people are grouped to what they have to do
the initial plus index These links will help you find guides to all the areas of language and skills that you are likely to meet on a CELTA course

Woodward, T, 2003, Key Concepts in ELT: Loop Input, English Language Teaching Journal, 57/3, July 2003, pp301-304, Oxford: Oxford University Press