I, as a CELTA trainee, attended a couple of great sessions yesterday. One session was by Ri Willoughby, and the other was by Chia Suan Chong. These two tutors were so good that I felt lucky to have them around, and I made sure once more that I was in the right place with the right people. I have no doubt that I will improve to a great extent as long as I put enough of energy and attention into work.
Ri presented one model lesson to show us what we could do to expand even a simple-looking listening exercise into a shiny and highly beneficial 40-minute lesson. Before she started, she asked us to work in groups to come up with ideas as to how it could be possible, but I, honestly, was unable to think of anything and even assumed that it was nearly impossible. As for my group mates, they sort of agreed with me, and we were just not capable of generating ideas.
At that moment, Ri stepped in. She first gave us a picture of a London taxi, and asked what we thought about those classy and a-little-bit expensive taxis. We all contributed and shared ideas. It was unbelievable to see how much of interaction and communication even a simple picture generated. Next, she handed out sheets of paper with the pictures of different forms of taxis from 4 other countries and asked us to predict where they might be from. That done, she had us listen to the recording for the first time. Then we all understood that the recording was about what people thought of those forms of taxis whose pictures we had already dealt with.
Aim of the first listening was to decide which countries the taxis belonged to. We did that without difficulty because we all are proficient speakers of English, but any student could have done it as well because Ri had first prepared us for the task really efficiently. Before the second listening, she gave each group another sheet that required us to try to remember what the speakers said about the cost, comfort, and enjoyment of the taxis in question. I thought that was another useful strategy because it was intended to make the second listening more meaningful for everybody as we would be listening not only to complete the task but also to compare our answers with those of the speakers.
Needless to say, the second listening was a success, too, and that would have been so for any student as well. Apparently, there was nothing else to do as the listening was dealt with completely. However, that was not what Ri had in mind. She said she would be sharing with us an anecdote about a journey she had. We loved the idea and quickly grew interested-imagine how a language learner would respond to that! I want to say that the anecdote was detailed and full of fun, so the was no reason for not enjoying it.
When Ri was done with the anecdote, I was certain that she would end the model lesson. It had been 35 minutes since the start of the presentation and that might not have proved very useful to introduce another activity, yet I was mistaken again. The great tutor this time asked us to share in our groups such anecdotes with each other. It was wonderful to hear interesting stories from the group members who had something to share.
I was so careful as not to make another assumption about what might be next when Ri said it was end of the activity and the time for the lesson was up. She wrapped it all up very professionally and thanked us for our participation. Next, we all started to analyze the stages of the lesson and there was a lot of reflecting around. Everyone had liked it because we all thought what Ri had just done was a miracle.
Indeed it was the reality itself. It showed to me how it was always possible to make the most out of even the least that could be at hand. Ri’s lesson also proves that language teaching is more an art than it is science because it requires imagination and creativity. Everyone can claim they can teach, but the question is “Can students learn?”. Tony Gurr, to whom I owe a lot, always suggests teachers are best when they LEARN the students, and I can’t agree more.
The second session of yesterday was with Chia Suan Chong, and she was as great as Ri. However, I intend to share with you the fantastic grammar lesson she modeled in another post-probably in my next one. There is also the account of my first observed TP ready to post, but I want to publish it with the account of my second observed TP scheduled for Friday.
So, that’s all from me for today. I wish to emphasize that I am really pleased with the attention these posts are getting from you all, so I am grateful. I feel the CELTA Diaries will be of great help for everyone interested in doing CELTA to welcome a world of possibilities into their teaching, and I hope I can fulfill my part of the duty the best I can.