Hello Exam Seekers,
Seeking some more information about the CELTA? Well, here it goes! 🙂
A friend has recently come to me to ask some questions about her first assignment in the CELTA. As I’ve already mentioned in a previous post, the CELTA first assignment according to the syllabus is the Focus on the Learner. However, centers have total autonomy to choose the order of the assignments, and as they can order the assignments as they please, it makes much more sense that the first assignment is “Language Related Task” than “Focus on the Learner”. Why?
Well… First, let’s try and understand how the Language Related Task works then I’ll answer the question above, ok?
First, we need to know what is the design of the assignment:
Length: 750–1,000 words
>> identification of significant features of the form, pronunciation, meaning and use of language items/areas and the use of relevant information from reference materials.
Candidates can demonstrate their learning by:
- analyzing language correctly for teaching purposes.
- correctly using terminology relating to form, meaning and phonology when analyzing language.
- accessing reference materials and referencing information they have learned about language to an appropriate source.
- using written language that is clear, accurate and appropriate to the task.
Having that in mind, we have the following task:
This assignment involves analyzing language. On the next page, there is a typical text that you might use in class. Look at the items in the grids on the following pages (also underlined and boldfaced in the text). Choose 2 (two) grammar and 2 (two) vocabulary items and:
a) Analyze the meaning (in this context), form and pronunciation of the item;
b) Identify any problems students may have with meaning, form and pronunciation and provide realistic solutions;
c) State which references you have used to help you in your analysis.
By the end of your writing process your assignment should look like:
The image above just represents half of the assignment. Remember that you need to choose 2 (two) grammar and 2 (two) vocabulary items. Let’s follow the example above and work on the grammar item presented.
The first thing to do is to choose the grammar and vocabulary items that you want to work on. For example:
- SHE HAD LEFT WHEN I ARRIVED.
When you have a grammatical structure to teach, you have to explain to the students some things about the items:
To teach the meaning of some words, or to work on students’ questions that might come up, you need to use CCQs. We have already written something about that, but for those of you who don’t remember, CCQs are the Concept Checking Questions. You can use them to teach a concept or to check students’ understanding of a concept, therefore it must be in your language analysis sheet.
Another important thing that you need to add to your assignment is the anticipated problems tab. If you are teaching any kind of concept, you need to be prepared for the questions that will come up, and it must be related to all of the aspects taught.
PART 1 – CONCEPT and FORM
While you are doing your assignment or preparing a lesson on grammatical points, you should have a grammar book with you. As you can see, the example above uses PARROT, M. (2000). Grammar for English Language Teachers. CUP.
What is the verb tense you are teaching? Check the grammar book and put it on the first tab. While you are checking the verb tense, you are figuring out if the verb tense you have has the same structure of your sentence, and that’s why the concept comes together with its form. So it should look like this:
- Concept: Past Perfect
- Form: Subject + had + verb in the past participle (irregular)
When you are teaching a grammatical item, you usually focus on affirmative, negative or interrogative independently. But sometimes, especially if you are working on the whole grammatical structure you should put the affirmative, negative and interrogative forms in your language analysis sheet, especially if you are writing an assignment on the topic.
And if you are working on a grammatical point, it should contain the timeline:
PART 2 – MEANING AND CCQs
Now that you know the form, what is the meaning of this sentence? Having the grammar book by your side and knowing the meaning of Past Perfect, you use what you know to translate the sentence that you have. Like in the example above:
- Meaning: In this sentence, the event ‘left’ happened before the event ‘arrived’. The past perfect is used to refer to a completed action in the past that happened before another completed action. Therefore she left and he arrived right after.
When you are writing the meaning of this sentence, you have to think about how you are explaining the past perfect to your students. So you should come up with the following CCQs:
- Did she leave after he arrived? (NO)
- Did she leave before he arrived? (YES)
- When did she leave? (BEFORE HE ARRIVED)
You can come up with more questions, but keep in mind that this should help you explain the meaning of the sentence you are presenting, ok? So it must be clear and simple and it should always be at the students’ level, for example, if you are teaching past perfect, your sentence must be in the simple past.
And don’t forget that next to the questions, you must put the answer in parenthesis.
As you can see in the example above, we have one YES question, one NO question and one OPEN question. Try to follow this structure, because having only negative questions/answers don’t show that your students know what the concept is, they might only know what it is not and not what it is.
PART 3 – PRONUNCIATION
There is a nice website to help you with the pronunciation: PHOTRANSEDIT. You write the word/sentence that you want and the website gives you the phonetic symbols. In our case, it shows this:
- Pronunciation: /ʃid left wen hi əˈraɪvd/ – She had LEFT when he arRIved
However, pronunciation is not only the phonemic chart, but the intonation and the stress relevant to your sentence, and that’s why we added the sentence above with “left” and “arRIved” in capital letters.
You are not teaching your student the phonemic chart, but it is relevant for you to have this in your language analysis sheet because it guides you through teaching the sentences. Moreover, it is relevant that you teach your students that you say “she had LEFT” instead of “she HAD left”. They need to know which part of the sentence is stronger and also the pauses in the sentences so that they can speak well.
PART 4 – ANTICIPATED PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS (APS)
While you are teaching the meaning, form and pronunciation, there are always some students who don’t understand right away or show difficulties along the way, and that’s why you should have an ace up your sleeve.
When you’re planning your meaning, pronunciation and form, think of questions or problems students might have, write them and add the possible solution:
P: Ss may understand that she left after he arrived.
S: CCQs & Timelines.
P: Ss may pronounce /hedʒiː/ instead of /həd/.
S: Drill and transcription on the board.
P: Ss may use leave as a regular verb, as in ‘leaved’.
S: Refer Ss to the chart of irregular verbs.
Now can you see the importance of the CCQs, the timetable and the phonemic chart? Because they should all be ready for you to use if the time comes.
Some important things to keep in mind: If you are teaching one word, for example, APPLE, how do you plan on writing your meaning and APS on your language analysis sheet? You can simply show a picture of an apple. When you are teaching a concrete concept you can always show a picture or use realia to teach, and you won’t be needing any APS for meaning since the meaning is quite obvious with the picture. It’s not necessary to be redundant or put lots of thing in your assignment and language analysis sheet. It should be concise and helpful for the person who is teaching that specif lesson.
PART 4 – REFERENCE
This is another important aspect of your assignment, you must write the reference from where you took the information you wrote. Here are some examples of good bibliography for you guys:
- PARROT, M. (2000). Grammar for English Language Teachers.
- WORKMAN, G. (2006). Concept Questions and Timelines. Chadburn Publishing.
- CAMBRIDGE Dictionaries Online. Available at: <dictionary.cambridge.org>.
- ESL Base. Teach English. Available at: <www.eslbase.com/grammar>.
- OXFORD Advanced Learners Dictionary (2013). 8. ed. (app edition).
- SOUNDS: The Pronunciation App (2011). MPL. (app edition)
When you’re done, make sure you included everything:
What about the vocabulary items? It works very similarly. The difference is that you are working with one or two words, so you need to say if it is a phrasal verb, an adjective, conjunction, etc. If you want an example of a vocabulary analysis, write in the comment section below for us to know and help, ok? As for now, I hope I have cleared some questions about the topic.
Now answering the question posed at the beginning of the text, it makes much more sense that centers start by Assignment 2 – Language Related Task than Assignment 1 – Focus on the Learner, because it doesn’t matter if you are taking the full-time course or the part-time course, you should know how to organize your language analysis sheet from day 1 of the CELTA, because you will be teaching very soon. Meanwhile, getting to know your students is a process and it should be gradual. I mean… before choosing a specific student to interview and making your assignment you should be watching them and analyzing them.
Is it clear for you?
Once you know how to do your language analysis sheet and you are using it properly after writing Assignment 2, then you can focus on your learner and write an assignment on him/her.
I hope that this text has helped you. If you still have questions don’t forget to send us a message. Leave a comment in the comment section below or on our social media:
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Have a great weekend,