Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Creating e-resources

Dear all

Many thanks for your contributions in today's session. As Sharmin said, "I never realised it could be so easy."

Of course, when using technology you need to think about a number of things:

a) The content - is it appropriate? Does it aid learning, etc? How does it fit into the overall lesson?

b) The skills of your learners. Some learners, and teachers, are intimidated by technology. I know when I started an e-teaching course a few months ago, I was worried that my skills were not up to scratch. Learners may need a lot of support with using the technology. If you want them to use mobile devices in the classroom, they may not have a mobile phone or may feel embarrassed by their clunky device.

c) The language used. If the resource uses a lot of jargon, it can be off-putting for learners. In addition, documents may be formatted in a way which makes them difficult for learners to navigate.

d) Availability and performance of the technology. Learners will become very frustrated if it takes a long time to conntect to a particular website. The moral of the story is to always have a contingency plan rather than relying solely on technology.

Well done for creating some fantastic resources - I have included them below and feel free to add to the page if you wish. I take on board your comments that perhaps we should introduce these tools earlier on in the course.

Finally, I'd recommend this book to all those interested in integrating technology. I've tried out a couple of things myself.

Thursday, 5 June 2014


As you know, ESOL learners can struggle with listening. On the CELTA course, we advocate a kind of cycle approach: prelistening (e.g. talking about pictures related to the topic), during listening (completing a task of some kind) and a post listening (e.g. a roleplay). However, comprehension questions in coursebooks tend to be rather similar, e.g. 'How old is the speaker?' and require the learners to listen out for very specific details. I'm not sure we always do this - we would ask the speaker to repeat a point if we didn't understand something.

This article questions the value of setting comprehension questions. Thornbury (2001, 'Uncovering Grammar') also makes a distinction between comprehension and comprehending questions. The latter look more at language, e.g. "How did the speaker ask for something to be repeated? "Why do you think he said '....' in this context?' etc.

This article explains how to liven up listening lessons. If you have any ideas, let us all know by commenting below. I like to vary the way I give feedback on listening activities, e.g. holding up 'true/false cards', standing under the correct letter - a, b or c or really exploiting a task. For example, I remember when I did my diploma (many years ago!) I did a listening lesson for my external assessed lesson. I was very nervous as I was teaching a proficiency class and these learners were excellent. The listening was about a famous artwork. After listening for gist and detail, we looked at some of the language in the audio and practised this. The learners then had to use the expressions to talk about a piece of artwork they knew (pictures provided if not).

Hope you have some new ideas.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Different approaches to writing

In today's approach we looked at approaches to writing: process, product and genre. It is difficult to get your head around these approaches.

This short presentation gives you a summary of the approaches.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Possible post

Dear all

This post might be of some interest:


It's functional English rather than ESOL but it's worth finding out about. The learners are likely to be ESOL students.

Friday, 16 May 2014


We have now looked at four areas of phonology: word and sentence stress, connected speech, intonation and sounds (the phonemic script). Hope you find the summary below useful.

Phonology mindmap

Friday, 9 May 2014

Teaching pronunciation

Adrian Underhill, who wrote 'Sounds English' advocates a slightly different approach to teaching pronunciation. Watch the four clips to see what his approach is and answer the questions as you go along. What is your opinion of the approach?

Teaching pronunciation 1 Teaching pronunciation 2 Teaching pronunciation 3 Teaching pronunciation 4 (sorry about the spelling in the link) If you are interested, you can watch his whole presentation on You Tube:

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Deeper thinking skills

Here is an article written by Jim Scrivener on getting leaners to really produce language not just produce correct responses.


What do you think? Feel free to comment below.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Quick grammar guide

I don't know if you've come across the British Council site yet but it has some great ideas on it.  This is a useful grammar guide although you would probably need to look at the language in more depth.


Top tips

Here are some tips to help you prepare for the new level. Good luck to everyone.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Keeping your learners interested

If you have 15 minutes to spare, you might want to look at this video/podcast on how to keep your learners interested. It's based on a talk given by Penny Ur who wrote 'A course in English Language Teaching' Click here

I hope that you feel a bit more confident about being in the classroom and are willing to experiment in your approach. Think about the following:

a) Give the learners meaningful practice - beyond the gap fill! How you can encourage the learners to collaborate with each other? For example, if you want the learners to ask each other questions, do they have to have the same questions? Can you divide up tasks so that learners ask each other different questions, perhaps to complete a questionnaire or a table?

b) Personalise the language (Jo Gakonga mentions this). Individuals like to relate language to their own lives so ensure the learners have opportunities to talk about their own lives.

c) Vary your approach. Avoid lots of PowerPoint slides with lots of text on them. You will need to provide the learners with input but there should be a balance between teacher talking time and student talking time.

d) Think about warmers that 'sparkle' - that get the learners interested.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Review of key terms

We're halfway through the course so here's a quiz to check your knowledge of 15 key terms. There are 5 types of quizzes you can try: Click here

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The inductive approach

This is a summary of how to use an inductive approach to teach grammar. What do you think are the pros and cons of such an approach?

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Assignment 4: Lessons from the classroom

Assignment 4 is all about reflecting on your progress, how you propose to work on your action points and how you will continue learning after the course. Please read through the assignment brief to make sure you are clear on everything; I have summarised it in the audio below.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Pronunciation activities

For those interested in integrating phonology in your lessons (and in the future, hopefully), this is a useful summary of some top pronunciation activities: Click here

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Authentic use

This is what you have produced (so far!!)

Concept checking

Please find below the graffiti wall that you created using your mobiles A different way of remembering how to concept check. Watch the short film: <

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Word and sentence stress

In today's session we looked at word and sentence stress. It may take a while for you to get used to noticing primary, and possibly secondary stress, but it will come! Please find a link to some activities - I have pinned them onto an online board: you just need to click on anything of interest.

Word and sentence stress

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

ESOL Core Curriculum

Below is a copy of the main components of the ESOL Core Curriculum - you can access the full curriculum at Excllence Gateway.

The ESOL Core curriculum spans all levels except pre-entry: from entry one to level 2 and is divided into skills: speaking, reading, writing and listening. Each skill is then divided into subskills - see below. Grammar is embedded within each skill which can make it hard to locate. When you are devising schemes of work, you may need to map them to the curriculum.

by clare.tyrer


Watch the clip. Scott Thornbury is talking about PPP: Presentation, Practice and Production. Please add your comments below; we shall also discuss this in class. What do you think about the method? It is one we use on the CELTA course, essentially because of convenience and time restrictions.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Receptive skills

A quick summary of what we looked at on Wednesday.
1. Language skills are all about what learners should be able to do with language, i.e. reading, writing, speaking and listening. Reading and listening are usually labelled as receptive skills although this is slightly misleading. They are not passive skills: it can take a lot of mental effort to read or make sense of an audio. 2. These macro skills can be divided into micro or sub-skills: prediction, skimming, scanning and intensive reading and listening, for example. We looked at top down and bottom up approaches. Top down approaches are concerned with looking at the overall picture of a text. Texts/audios can be very daunting for learners and it is a good idea to activate their schemata, to find out what they know about the topic and build on this. In the warmer, we can ask learners to discuss the topic of the audio/text,and show them a headline/audio and ask them to predict what the content will be. 3. To avoid the learners becoming too bogged down with vocabulary they do not know, decide which words, if any, should be pre-taught. Look at what they need to be able to understand to complete the tasks and check this vocabulary. Do not introduce too many words as vocabulary is not the main focus of the lesson (you can always look at some words later). Decide on the best way of presenting the vocabulary. If you have a few words to pre-teach, you can elicit and check the lexis, but if you have more than 4 words to pre-teach, you could use more student-centred ways of looking at the new vocabulary. For example, you could provide the learners with definitions which they match to the lexical items. 4. A gist task is a good way of looking at the overall meaning of the text/audio. This will help build confidence before looking at the text in more details. An example of a gist task is 'tick the topics you hear on the audio' or 'choose the best headline'. 5. Give learners an opportunity to compare their ideas after they have completed the gist and detailed tasks. This will give them confidence and allow you to assess progress. If you believe the learners are struggling, you will need to make some decisions. For example, you might decide to play the audio again in 'chunks' or do a few examples with the learners. 6. Provide extension tasks for learners who have finished more quickly than others. Instead of 'more of the same', think about how you can stretch and challenge these learners. 7. Finally, remember to encourage the learners to engage with what they have read/heard by providing a follow-up writing or speaking task. Remember - you language skills related tasks assignment is due in April. Please listen to the audio below for a recap of the stages. I apologise if the audio is a bit quiet or you can hear my kids shouting in the background!

Monday, 24 February 2014

top 10 teaching materials ideas

Just stumbled upon this - like the idea of adding audio to PowerPoint and adding audio to an animated face. Will definitely need to try this!

Click on the link materials

Language research

I have been doing some research into using mobile phones in the classroom and I thought I could combine two birds with one stone here: a review of language areas and using a technological device!

I hope that you can participate in this language project by uploading your own photos of a particular language point and displaying it. Here are a few areas to get you started. Do you know which language point is being described and why? You can check your answers by clicking on answers

Then you can start posting your own pictures; I have plenty more but I think it would be more useful for you to find your own. You may have to set up your own link at to post; if you get stuck, send me the image and I'll post it for you.

Happy language hunting and make sure you don't offend anyone if you take an image!!

What is the verb form 'observe'?

Which verb forms are used?
What is 'stock up' an example of?


Monday, 17 February 2014

Tips on lesson planning

I hope that now you have had the session on lesson planning, you feel more confident preparing your first lessons for teaching practice. If you don't fancy reading all the information below, you can listen to my three-minute summary here:

 Below are a few tips.

1. Think about the lesson objectives of your session, It is a good idea to make these SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-led). Consider what you want the learners to be able to do by the end of the lesson and go from there. Avoid using words such as 'understand' and 'know' in your lesson objectives as it is difficult to assess whether the learners are actually learning something. Remember as well that you want the learners to put some cognitive effort into the lesson, i.e. there should be some evidence of deeper learning going on. All learners should be 'stretched' and 'challenged' to some degree. A useful resource is Bloom's taxonomy. This provides some useful language which you can use when writing your lesson objectives. The video clip focuses on the cognitive components of Bloom's taxonomy.


2. Present language via a context whereever possible. This context should be generative, e.g. if you are using a text or audio to present language, there should be several examples of the target language so that learners can perceive patterns and hopefully 'notice' rules for themselves. We shall look at different ways of presenting language during the course.

3. Keep the function of the language in mind. When you research the language point you are teaching, you will notice that it may have many functions. For example, a third conditional form can be used to apportion blame (e.g. "If you'd got up earlier, we wouldn't have missed the plane."), express regret (e.g. "If I'd studied harder, I could have got a better job.") etc. It is, therefore, essential that you keep to this function when learners are being introduced to and practising the language. Do NOT attempt to convey ALL the uses of the present perfect, for example, in one lesson. This is potentially confusing and I doubt whether they will retain this knowledge. If you decide to use of Murphy's English in Use exercises, make sure that the exercise practises the function of the language that the learners have been introduced to earlier on.

4. Be realistic! Do not attempt to cram everything into a 40-minute lesson. Teach the learners not the plan; be flexible. You may have to spend longer on one stage than another. This is fine.

5. Ensure there is a clear link between each stage of the lesson. Ask yourself how each stage leads onto the next. For example, if you are teaching a reading lesson, think about WHY you might need to pre-teach some vocabulary. Make this clear to your learners so they are clear where they are going. 

6. Finally, try not to get too stressed. Teaching should be an enjoyable process. You are here to learn so if something does not quite go to plan in your lesson, don't worry. Nobody is a perfect teacher!  

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Teaching beginners

You might find listening and watching this useful. The trainer gives some advice on how to teach beginners, particularly useful if you are teaching entry level 3.

teaching beginners

Monday, 27 January 2014


Dear all

Welcome to the CELTA course. I hope you all really enjoy the course. Please find below a letter from a previous trainee giving you some advice on how to survive!

Dear CELTA student,


As you embark on what could be a life –changing course, let me offer you some practical tips that may help you through the next 12 weeks.


I say “life-changing” because it has changed mine. 3 months ago I had certain preconceptions about what the course might entail. However, it was not how I imagined it to be at all!

I am sure you have a few expectations yourself but your goal is hopefully to pass the course and become a qualified CELTA teacher.

If you think the course is intensive- you are right. If you believe you have to work hard, plan and read lots, you are correct!

If you think you have to do a lot of research and treat your colleagues as part of a team, then you are half way there already…however, I found that the guidance and support I received from my tutors were amazing as well as support from fellow students on the course.


I was worried about not having any previous teaching experience before starting the CELTA, but I needn’t have worried. Everything you need to equip yourself with the skills, methodologies and techniques to teach English language to adults is provided, including the classes that you will teach.

The course is very practical in content. Initially, it was a surreal experience being transformed from being a student to a teacher standing in front of a class. However week-by-week the course enables you to learn and improve techniques with confidence.

Discipline is very important -I needed to make sure my portfolio and all the teaching practice lessons were in order- this not only helps the tutors but it helped me assess my strengths and weaknesses and to also remember to be consistent in my strengths.


I also listened and took notes of comments and evaluations that my peers and tutors made with regards to my progress and lessons.


Time keeping and 100% attendance is crucial on such an intensive course. Although intensive, I found the classes very interesting and inspiring. Every week I came away with lots of recommended reading, handouts and notes. I missed a week due to unforeseen circumstances, and although I was given notes and handouts to make up the time lost, I felt I had missed a significant part of the course.

It helped me to be a good planner and to be really organised, I sectioned and labelled all my notes and handouts in files to help me review my notes on a weekly basis and it helped me plan my lessons.


So to summarise:

  • Good time keeping and 100% attendance
  • You have to be prepared to work hard!
  • You have to plan and research your subject area
  • Be prepared to work as part of a team and liaise with colleagues.
  • Keep your portfolio in order.
  • Organisation is crucial
  • Take into account evaluations of tutors and peers in order to develop further
  • Background reading.
  • Remember to enjoy the experience!


I started out as a student and came out the other end as a qualified CELTA teacher. So did it change my life? Definitely!


Wishing you all the best and every success on the CELTA course.



Liz Thaugally

CELTA student 2004