Wednesday, 11 September 2019

#CELTAchat Monday 9 September: Reflecting on CETA2019 in Edinburgh

#CELTAchat Summary writers needed for June and July

Looking for volunteers to write #CELTAchat summaries for:

June: Ensuring To Standard Lessons
July:  What to do when there are Assessor problems / How to build trainees ability to set up and maintain relevant contexts / Is this a relevant topic for updating input? 

Please respond in the comments below if you can volunteer to write one for us!

                                                                                Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Summary of results to What's Going On? survey

We had 15 responses to our #CELTAchat survey: What's going on? Many thanks for your time and answers as your replies help us to understand a lot more about our followers, which was our purpose.

Summary of results

Question 1

2 out of 15 respondents identified themselves as not being teacher trainers but senior teachers looking after new teachers and / or needing to be aware of initial teacher trainer practice. This is great to know as collaboration with teachers who provide ongoing support for newly qualified teachers is very much welcomed.

Question 2
This 63.3% who have never participated are our target audience for this survey.  We really wanted to attract the attention of followers who are not participating to find out why.  The following question gave us some insight into this.

Question 3

We are extremely happy to see a 93% readership for summaries or transcripts 😀.

Question 4
If you have answered 'no' to any/all of the
above questions, please let us know why 
you are following us.

Reasons given were:              

A feeling of exclusion               

😕 Oh dear!  We decided on the original name as we were 
three CELTA trainers but pretty soon we realised that
wanted to be inclusive and encouraged Trinity CertTESOL trainers too. If you are a trainer or a mentor of newly qualified teachers, you are a very welcome follower as either an active participant or a reader, as of course is anyone who is interested in reading our blog.

Time constraints                      

This was a problem in terms of geographical time zones and/
or teaching schedules and/or personal workload/life balance.
Having a one-hour live chat followed by a 24-hour 
asynchronous chat was designed with some of these issues in mind. If anyone has any ideas on how to address this, please let us know in the comments below. Maybe we could have a volunteer moderator in another time zone so we could have two live chats within the 24-hour time scale? 💭

We also had some positive feedback here and some thanks.  😎🙏                         

Question 5 
Please let us know how we can persuade 
you, or make it easier for you, to join us in
suggesting topics and to participate in our
monthly chats. Any other feedback is very 

Some responses here followed a similar theme in terms of time constraints. There was a suggestion for the time to be rotated month to month. Again, ideas welcome - do we have a volunteer daytime moderator to have possibly three live sessions on the same day? Let us know in the comments below!

Another issue mentioned was #hashtag conversation confidence.  In my experience, the best or only way to gain confidence is by having a go. It's certainly how I'm learning. Theory is useful but limited as active participation is practical.
However, I can offer some tips:
  • Use TweetDeck on a PC - this tool makes it much easier to follow a hashtag chat - in fact, I wouldn't recommend trying to follow a chat without it
  • Prepare some ideas before the chat starts - you could even write down some ideas if you know what you want to contribute or ask and then copy and paste into the chat
  • Don't forget the hashtag # so participants in the chat can see your tweets
  • If you want to participate and it's your first time, just have a go!
One respondent mentioned a difficulty in locating older transcripts.  Thank you 🙏 for drawing this to our attention. If you go to our CELTAchat blog and look on the right-hand side, you'll see first of all a Twitter Feed and below that you'll see Pages - this is a list of all our transcripts which you can just click on to access any transcript. However, I originally used Storify to create transcripts but this social media service shut down. Before they went out of business, I understood that downloaded transcripts would be safe. However, sadly, it seems that these transcripts have been lost. 

Below Pages, you'll see Blog Archive where you can find summaries and this experience of losing transcripts highlights the importance of summary writing, which was another factor mentioned as a reason for not participating in suggesting topics - 😱 fear of being asked to write a summary. Please don't let this stop you. We don't and can't force anyone to do anything, although yes, we might ask.  We are extremely grateful to those that do but completely understand if you can't or don't want to.

Thank you for participating in our survey - very much appreciated! Any more feedback also very welcome in the comments below.

By Fiona @fionaljp

Sunday, 12 May 2019

#CELTAchat May 6: Local Adaptations - What & How?

A Summary of #CELTAchat May 2019 By Adi Rajan

Many thanks to @bellinguis@fionaljp @adi_rajan@Cathyofnusleand @angelos_bollas for their contributions to May 2019 #CELTAchat
 We discussed ‘meaningful local adaptations: what and how’?  

Adaptations for future work contexts

·      @bellinguist included 3 hours of lessons to ESOL students along with 3 hours of lessons to ELT students in a 10-week part-time course to prepare trainees to become ESOL teachers in further education, addressing a need at the time in the UK.
·      @Cathyofnusle suggested including TP teaching materials that would be used wherever the candidates are likely to teach if this could be determined. @adi_rajan raised the issue of poor-quality teaching materials in the formal education sector and a lack of materials in the informal one in his South Asian context, posing problems with adapting TP teaching materials in this way.
·      @angelos_bollas said his courses in Athens had very diverse trainees but certain input sessions such as professional development, teaching YLs/teens were tailored to the demands of the local market.

Adaptions for local linguistic needs 

·      @fionaljp, @bellinguist and @angelos_bollas shared examples of having made changes in the way they taught the phonemic chart/pronunciation to Irish trainees to accommodate Irish speakers. @fionaljp adapted RP collaboratively with her trainees.
·      @angelos_bollas also changed phonology sessions to include “transcriptions that best illustrated Irish pronunciation and the importance of developing learners’ receptive pronunciation skills”.
·      @cathyofnusle said her trainees tend to have a mix of different accents including North American English and she covers variations in pronunciation.
·      @fionaljp shared a pronunciation site with resources on different types of English accents: The Voice Cafe.
·      @adi_rajan referred to an Indian academic (who did the CELTA recently) who gave feedback on the centre’s use of British English pronunciation models instead of General English ones. @adi_rajan highlighted the challenges of making adaptations here when Indian English pronunciation hasn’t been standardized and the fact that it might exclude non-Indian trainees and have an impact on the external assessment.

Adaptations to take into account varying levels of teaching experience 

·      @fionaljp minimised language analysis and increased planning and teaching techniques on a course for experienced teachers. @bellinguist has observed a similar trend in courses, suggesting that it would be better to focus on language needed in the lessons trainees were going to teach. @adi_rajan felt that experienced teachers in his context needed just as much language analysis as everyone else.
·      On the other hand, @angelos_bollas includes more language analysis sessions in English-speaking countries or on courses with many native speakers who haven’t had much explicit grammar instruction at school.

Adaptations to texts 

·      @fionaljp has adapted authentic texts used for reading input sessions by making them relevant to the location of the course. She highlighted this as a way of setting an example for the skills assignment. However, @cathyofnusle felt this could be counter-productive and cited an instance of trainees selecting a text about Prague which was interesting to them as visitors but had nothing new to offer to students.
·      @adi_rajan and @fionaljp recommended including more authentic, local voices in listening texts by way of L2 speakers.

·      @adi_rajan shared an example of a British tutor using texts with references to current events in the UK such as Brexit which Indian trainees weren’t familiar with. This could be both an argument for making texts contextual to trainees as well as finding opportunities to develop trainees’ awareness of the wider world.

Challenges with adaptations 

·      @Cathyofnusle and @angelos_bollas have worked with very diverse candidates and this raises the question of who to adapt for and how best to adapt in these situations.

Friday, 3 May 2019

#CELTAchat summary April 8 2019: Feedback from #IATEFL related to teacher training

Thank you to Darren Bell @bellinguist for volunteering to write this month's summary.

#CELTAchat summary 8 April 2019

We discussed two of the sessions at IATEFL 2019 related to teacher training:

Alistair Douglas talk
Title: Here we go again: time to update your CELTA course?
This talk presented research findings and suggestions of how we might incorporate more current ideas into initial teacher training courses.

Reactions/thoughts:@GioLic1976 summarised the purpose of Alistair’s talk, i.e. asking us to reflect on how much what we teach on CELTA reflects our teaching practices. He agreed with the point made in the talk about updating CELTA inputs @fionaljp believes that input sessions should be updated but in terms of teaching practices we need to consider the gap in experience between the tutor and the trainee @GioLic1976 thinks that, essentially, trainees are novice teachers and wouldn’t expect them to be able to do what a highly experienced teacher can do @Cathyofnusle referred to Picasso – the fact that you could see in his early work he had good techniques. He had nailed down the basic skills and then went on to play with them. That’s what new teachers need to do @jonjoTESOL thinks failure is part of teaching and teachers and students need to learn how to fail “correctly” with reflection and action. CELTA really is just planting seeds @sandymillin said the point Alistair seemed to be making in his talk was that a lot of the same things seem to show up in trainer speech, like ICQs, pre-teaching vocab etc but aren’t reflected in their teaching, and vice versa

asking ICQs:@GioLic1976 Alistair pointed out that there was nothing in the course syllabus that says trainees have to ask ICQs, and yet this seems to be a common expectation.
@Cathyofnusle prefers trainees to give examples or demonstrate tasks rather than use ICQs
@bellinguist asked whether there was a specific criterion for checking understanding of instructions in the syllabus @GioLic1976 said that there was but it did not say ICQs needed to be asked

pre-teaching vocabulary: @bellinguist is currently teaching on a CELTA course and his co-tutor felt this was an essential part of receptive skills procedure but believes the problem with it is that trainees often focus on words out of the context of the text @Cathyofnusle tends to be minimalist about it and suggests trainees are ready to clarify if asked @sandymillin believes pre-teaching vocab is really only necessary for one or two items that are really blocking

focusing on spoken output:@GioLic1976 asked if we as tutors encourage trainees to do this as much as we should? @Cathyofnusle said that’s what TP feedback is all about, i.e. where we respond to trainees’ ouput. Whether we encourage them enough to respond to student output depends on their ability. @fionaljp thinks focusing on student output comes with experience – on short initial training courses we just need to show them the way for future practice @bellinguist thinks if we changed the approach it might be achieved, i.e. focusing on true task based learning but admitted it might be too ambitious for an initial teacher training course @sandymillin is still working on this in her own practice. She believes stronger trainees can manage it but others can’t even get past activity set-up until very late in the course @anniethomson78 thinks beyond straightforward correction, this is something that comes much later on when they have clocked more hours in the classroom but perhaps it could be focused on more

shared beliefs on teaching practices: @bellinguist usually talks with his co-tutor about how trainees do feedback, i.e. avoiding 100% plenary feedback and when to correct errors @GioLic1976’s favourite hobby horse is smooth transitioning to keep the pace and the students’ interest

Melissa Lamb talk
Title: What if we took away input?
This talk examined the role of input and presented an alternative way of structuring a teacher training course to maximise skills development.

Here is a link to a blog post summarising Melissa’s talk by Barefoot TEFL Teacher IATEFL 2019 Day 3 - Review

@sandymillin summarised the purpose of Melissa’s talk, i.e. flipping a teacher training course like CELTA so input was at home, guided by trainers and at school there was more guided planning and lots of rehearsal. IH London gave the tutors 40 hours to produce the input 

Reactions/thoughts: @GioLic1976 thinks this is a great idea provided you have the budget and the time to produce the content @bellinguist asked what kind of feedback there had been from the trainees @Cathyofnusle is not sure she could trust trainees to spend time at home reading the input during the course @fionaljp and @anniethomson76 love the idea @sandymillin suggests the content could be pooled together in some way but it would require co-ordination @admiralwamy thinks this approach “fixes” one of the major problems of full time CELTA: often the input sessions come at the wrong time for trainees. However, there may be a problem: it depends massively on the trainees working well together. If they don’t the workshops won’t work. Group bonding is vital @adi_rajan says that he learnt a great deal from the input on his pre service training course because it focused on the how rather than the what and thinks trainees in his context would feel a bit cheated with the flipped approach @teflerinha thinks loop input is very helpful but it can be overdone and thinks it should be used judiciously. Some things work better as flipped learning than others, e.g. concept checking

Feedback/impact on trainee performance: @sandymillin says rehearsal in particular improved their confidence. The trainees still felt stressed but both the assessor and the trainers said it was a different quality of stress and nowhere near as high as on a standard course @admiralwamy believes there were seven Pass Bs and 3 Passes on the course

Melissa Lamb responded on Facebook to address the following points raised about her talk and very kindly agreed to let us include her comments in the summary:

Wednesday, 6 March 2019