|CELTA-007| Assignment 1 – Focus on the Learner

Hello Exam Seekers,

Yesterday was February 1st and in some countries, like Brazil, the school year started yesterday (or at the end of January and at the beginning of February). That means that in some countries some people started their CELTA course yesterday.  If you don’t know what CELTA is, please click here to get some information about it.

Actually, there is not exactly a specific date for the CELTA course to start, it really depends on the center/school that you are taking the course. There are some centers that offer the full-time course but also the part-time course, so you just have to decide on which one to take. Either way, if you choose:

  • Full-time: It usually takes one whole month, that is, you have to study every day from 9am – 5pm to fulfill the syllabus.
  • Part-time: It usually takes one day of the week, every week over a semester, that is, you choose a day of the week that the center offers and over 5 months you have to attend the input sessions and perform a lesson. These part-time courses are offered in two different ways: online or in-person input sessions, which determines the length of the day.

That means that the center has to adjust holidays and classes accordingly to either of these two periods. Moreover, the centers also have the freedom to select the order that the lessons will take part and the order of the assignments.

If you take the CELTA Syllabus, you will see that the first assignment is Focus on the learner. When I took my CELTA, my first assignment was the Language Related Task which made sense at the time, but for the sake of sharing knowledge related to the syllabus, I’m going in order, ok?

focus-on-learner5

As I said, the centers are responsible for designing the CELTA course, therefore the assignments. According to the syllabus, you can use a variety of formats to write your assignment, having two written in academic prose. However, most centers ask that you write all your assignments using formal academic writing, therefore, don’t forget to check our post on semi-formal writing.

Assignments may consist of a series of tasks, and they are supposed to be four, but the centers can make two short assignments into two longer ones if need be, in that case, the assignment is still assessed as two separate pieces of work and each section of the assignment must be graded separately.

Assignment 1: Focus on the learner

Tasks: (750-1000 words)

  1. investigation of the learning context and assessment of learner needs with reference to a specific learner or group of learners.
  2. identification of sources for language and/or skills development and, where appropriate, personal support.
  3. suggestions for specific language and/or skill-focused activities and an explanation/rationale for the use of these activities with the specific learners identified.

In other words, you are supposed to do 5 tasks:

1. Choose ONE student from the group of students you are presenting your lessons and write his/her profile: (200-300 words)

  • Social and  Educational Background;
    • age, occupation, hobbies, birthplace, etc.
  • Reason for studying English;
    • has studied English before, why study now, etc.
  • Attitudes toward English Learning;
    • homework, preferred skill, strengths and weaknesses, etc.
  • Learning Style.
    • based on the interview…

Choose the student carefully (you should think about the student’s level of English), then interview this student for approximately 10 minutes and record the interview. Use the guide above to formulate questions.

2.  After that, ask the student to produce a piece of writing (topic and genre are free). Select 3-4 grammar and vocabulary problems and explain what they are, giving examples of your student’s production. Your student’s piece of writing and oral interview should be attached to the assignment. Justify why these mistakes were probably made based on your bibliography. (200-300 words)

E.g. In her interview, the student made some mistakes when using the pronouns as you can see in these sentences, ‘people goes to buy [them]’(4’11’’), ‘but if my partner isn’t so good, I don’t like [it]’(16’30’’). Shepherd (2001:124) says that pronouns for Portuguese speakers are frequently left out if they can be understood in context.

3. Then select 3-4 fluency and pronunciation problems and do the same procedure: explain what they are, give examples and justify. (200-300 words)

E.g.  Portuguese speakers have also problems with the final /l/, which ‘is often pronounced as a vowel similar to /ʊ/’ (SHEPHERD,2001:115) as in travel /ˈtrevəʊ/.

4. Then describe your student’s writing mentioning cohesion, coherence, punctuation, spelling, the range of grammar and vocabulary, etc. (150-200 words)

5. Choose ONE mistake and correct it, then suggest a task so that the student can practice and improve. (100-200 words)

E.g. ‘When I went in Paris’ – correction: ‘When I went to Paris’. This exercise from Murphy (2004:253), will help the student review and decide which preposition to use (appendix 2).

Remember that you should provide a rationale for all the parts (except part 1 – obviously) with the bibliography and the appendix attached at the end of the assignment.

As you can see above, I gave examples from my own assignment and a suggestion of the number of words for each part to help and guide you along the way. I hope it does help you with your first assignment and remember:

  1. Start the assignment as soon as possible;
  2. Choose a student who is either a beginner or an intermediate student (it tends to be easier);
  3. Look for a bibliography that is relevant to your student’s level and mistakes.
  4. For your first submission, try to write as much as you can. Do not worry so much about the number of words for the first submission, anything you wrote can be pruned off in the resubmission.

Good luck and do your best! To help you a little more, here goes my bibliography:

  1. GODOY, S; GONTOW C; MARCELINO, M. (2006). English Pronunciation for Brazilians. DISAL.
  2. MURPHY, Raymond (2004). English Grammar in Use. e. CUP
  3. PARROT, M. (2000). Grammar for English Language Teachers. CUP.
  4. SHEPHERD, David. (2001). ‘Portuguese speakers’ in Swan, M.; Smith, B., eds, Learner English, e. CUP.

Have a great weekend,
Patty and Eve

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