Technology post-CELTA (2): Filling in the gaps CELTA left

TeachingEnglish.org.uk

TeachingEnglish.org.uk: one to bookmark, now!

Your CELTA course (CELTA: orginally, "Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults") is a short and intense month-long course and inevitably leaves a few gaps in the knowledge that you will require as a language teacher — and as a job seeker (see previous post in this series).

One of my jobs for the last 10 years and counting has been passing on jobs vacancies to trainees who have taken their CELTA course at IH Barcelona. Most of them (approx. 300 a year) are TEFL jobs in Spain and I'd say 75% or more of employers specify that they want people with experience of teaching young learners and/or Cambridge exams — which CELTA really didn't prepare you specifically for.

So here are a couple of websites that I always recommend people that cover some of the same areas your CELTA course did — and some it didn't.

1. | Teaching young learners
The first is TeachingEnglish.org.uk (image above), which is produced by the British Council and the BBC, and which is great if you finish up teaching young learners, which the site divides into teaching "kids" up to 12, and teaching teens, with lesson plans, activities, articles etc. on both.

One Stop English

OneStopEnglish.com: your first stop site for many areas of English language teaching

You then have OneStopEnglish.com, which comes from the publishers Macmillan, which is also great for ideas and resources on teaching young learners (with resources again divided between children and teens), and many other things as well.

You have to pay for full access to it (details for individuals and for schools, and notice also the 30-day free trial option) but it's a site I always recommend (full disclosure: I've written articles on using technology for the site).

Both of the above two sites have the advantage over many things you'll find on the digital dungheap (aka the internet) that they've been produced by experts in the field.

TIP Where you're finding things elsewhere on the web, it can be helpful to ask yourself the question "What would [name of your CELTA course tutor/s] have said about this? How many ex-trainees have told me that works wonders?!

Technology isn't always the answer: one of the things I must have recommended most often on our post-course support group is reading books like these to help fill in those gaps.

And of course you also have workshops and courses that will provide you with useful ideas and knowledge (and look good on your CV). One of the most important things to do post-CELTA and for as long as your career in ELT lasts: go on learning to teach.

2. | Preparing learners for exams

Cambridge English exams

CambridgeEnglish.org: your go-to exams site

If you teach in a language school, particularly in Spain, but in lots of other countries around the world too, Cambridge exams are hugely important. The obvious go-to site is cambridgeenglish.org, which tells you pretty much all you need to know.

If you're going for an ELT job interview, at the very least know what's on the exams and what PET and FCE are and be able to explain the different levels!

3. | Technology

It's not about what the teacher does with the technology!

Something else your CELTA course probably didn't tell you: it's not a question of what you do with technology!

We'll come back to this in another post in this series but it's been my experience that CELTA doesn't really point you in the right direction as far as technology is concerned.

My big "problem" with CELTA is that it — rightly — focuses on teaching you how to teach, whereas I'd suggest that 21st technology really needs to be in the hands of the learners, not the teacher, for it to be used most successfully.

Your CELTA course probably taught you that your classrooms ought to be learner-centred, didn't it? So why are you hogging the keyboard and displaying your PowerPoint? That's the equivalent, if you ask me, of your Mum posting stuff on Facebook for you and you only being allowed to watch!

For a website, or rather a blog, where you can find lots of ways your learners could be using technology, let me suggest my own blog here — or you could follow me on Twitter for more ideas on that 😉 !

But we'll come back to this one…

4. | Teaching 1-2-1
One other area that CELTA probably didn't cover was teaching one-to-one, private lessons (which you may well find yourself doing to make ends meet, as they tend to be considerably better paid what you get per hour in language schools).

You could Google that (though first I'd always search for results on TeachingEnglish.org.uk and the results on OneStopEnglish). But you might again want a book for that specialised area and there's Peter Wilberg's One to One: A Teacher's Handbook (LTP; Amazon) or Priscilla Osborne's One to One (Keyways Publishing, Amazon) for that.

Did CELTA not prepare you for any other key areas? Tell us in the comments!

Coming up in this series

  • Technology for autonomy
  • Technology for becoming a better teacher
  • Technology for learning English
  • Technology for teaching English
  • Technology for filling in the gaps post-CELTA
  • Technology for finding work in ELT

Inspiring children to read with simple drawings

In my recent session on classroom drawing at the IH Barcelona ELT Conference, I explain how my son's primary school teacher had inspired him to do better at school by putting not ticks but quick doodles of football players on his work.

Toni, however, remembered not so much the football players as the drawings Agustí used to do on everyone's reading records…

As I suggested during the workshop, even if you never draw on your board, learn to doodle, and — especially if they are young — doodle on your learners' work!

Hilarious if you teach kids who like things a bit gross

Escargore from Media Design School on Vimeo.

Here's one I found because I follow @ShortoftheWeek on Twitter and posted in our official IH Barcelona Twitter feed:

Personally, I find it hilariously funny, possibly because I have the same childish sense of humour that the three kids I teach in a private class have. It's good to take to class things you just know your learners will love (and that's not something you'll normally find in a coursebook 😉 !).

What to do with something so brilliant (especially as our next class is Saturday — Halloween!)?

I'm going to fall back on an old favourite — getting them to describe what's happening, possibly getting one of them to watch, two just to listen, and keep switching those roles.

Their level isn't that great (they wouldn't pass First Certificate) but they're always more than willing to attempt to say things beyond that, if the topic interests them — and that's where I earn my living, in providing them with that language. There's no set agenda: the language input is totally reactive, no photocopies, no "exercises", no lesson plan my DELTA tutors would ever have approved of.

What makes the short successful, what makes it funny (or not!), why does it appeal to my learners (or not!), is probably also going to generate some fruitful discussion.

There's also an interesting making-of video for a follow-up and a little more about the short here.

365 things on Twitter
I don't spend a lot of time on Twitter, posting a maximum of one thing a day (no cats!) but — provided you UNfollow lots of people — you can still find interesting stuff for class there.

Another one for Halloween

Digital storytelling dolls and LegoMen

dolls0315

You've taken and shared the photos, now tell the story… | Photos: Esther and Class 3D

Esther tells me she had a lot of fun with this idea, which started out with teens using their smartphones to take photos of dolls, LegoMen, PlayMobil figures (hugely popular in Spain), Action Men, teddy bears or whatever they could find either at home or in shop windows.

Esther says:

Once we had lots of photos, we pooled them and I let the students pick whichever "characters" they wanted. The photos were all over the place, including on phones and Facebook but eventually one student had access to them all and put them in a PowerPoint for us all to see.

Once we had that, I let them pick whatever characters they wanted and then, in pairs, they incorporated the characters into "stories". I've got this tremendous mix of levels in the same group so I gave them a lot of freedom: some of the "stories" were just simple dialogues, others much more complex, including several PowerPoint stories, one a Prezi (probably not a good idea).

The "Cinderella" dolls [see image] were the most popular and produced some amazing stories!

Collecting the photos took about 10 days, which included two weekends (but note that it wasn't Esther doing that!) and the learners had a week in which to present the finished story in some form, with some being printed, some being shared digitally.

For a mixed ability group (and possibly for any group), allowing the learners leeway on their choice of tools and the actual format of the story — dialogue, poem, "proper" story, etc. — is a great idea.

A single place to post the photos to would probably have been a good idea (that was my fault, Esther 😉  ).

Pictures of graffiti for fun and language

Here's one I tweeted yesterday, which worked well in class, the picture being one Kim took of graffiti here in the Barrio Gótico in Barcelona.

There just happened to be a class of adults next door to Kim's teens and, the adults' teacher arriving late (!), Kim sent half of her teens next door to ask them what they thought the correct answer was and then report back, while the other half of Kim's class discussed it together.

Fun — and productive, too!

Here's another one, also spotted in the street, which also worked well (also with teens), who had to incorporate the phrases "sad eyes" and "warm hands" into a story:

Having no technology available — no computer in the room, no wifi and no smartphones (!!!) — they used pen and paper, and what's wrong with that?