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Celta Assignment 3 Language Skills


CELTA course assignments are a mystery for many people. Everyone who applies for a CELTA course has heard about them, but not many know what to expect.

In fact, I see many people online posting for help with them as they feel there is not enough time to do them properly and they are often confused by the instructions.

For this reason, I wanted to go through the basics of the CELTA course assignments and explain what you can expect. However, I should tell you early on: every CELTA course centre has slightly different assignments.

Yes, they follow the Cambridge CELTA standards but CELTA centres use their own specific requirements. This depends on what they feel is the best way for you to show what you have learnt on the CELTA course.

 

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CELTA Course Assignments: What are they?

There are 4 CELTA course assignments, which are as follows:

  • Assignment 1: Focus on the learner

  • Assignment 2: Language related tasks

  • Assignment 3: Language skills related task

  • Assignment 4: Lessons from the classroom

     

As mentioned above, these are different for each CELTA centre so it is hard to go into too much detail here. Instead, I will give you a brief overview and some links to examples of these CELTA course assignments, available for free online (but don’t pay for any!).

A word of warning: online examples are not guaranteed to be of high quality. They are simple tasks past CELTA trainees have uploaded to various websites.

You might also find that the assignment you are given is very different to any of the sample CELTA course assignments linked to below. With that in mind, it’s important to think about these assignments in terms of broad concepts, rather than specific points.

 

CELTA Course Assignment 1: Focus on the Learner

In general, this CELTA assignment asks you to comment on one student, or learner, from the group you are teaching. The assignment is essentially a needs analysis for that student.

For this assignment, you have to focus on their background, and strengths and weaknesses in learning English. You should also give suggestions for them to improve. To get a good grade on this assignment, you will also need to refer to some CELTA books (in brief) about teaching English.

Much of your assignment will also be based on an interview you do with a particular student. Remember to organise the interview early on in your CELTA course! And no, it won’t be anything like the CELTA course pre-interview task!

The word count for this assignment could be something like the following:

  • Learner Background: 300-350 words
  • Analysis of the student’s language problems: 300-350 words
  • Suggested activities for them improve their English: 300-350 words

What you write under each section will be based on your interview with them and what you have seen them do in class. Keep a close eye on them to help you here!

Hopefully you can now see clearly why this assignment is called ‘focus on the learner’!

CELTA Course Assignment 2: Language Related Tasks

For the second assignment on your course, you will need to focus on language skills and awareness.

Many people get really worried about this assignment, but you don’t need to! This is where you need to remember that the CELTA course is for people with little or no experience.

For the above, your tutors will not expect you to have a very high level knowledge of English. Just remember to follow the assignment instructions and do your best!

If you take good notes during the ‘input sessions’ on your CELTA course, these will be particularly helpful here (make sure you are taking notes you can read and understand afterwards!)

Regarding specific tasks, you will be given examples of language to work with and you will need to cover specific aspects of these.

You will likely have to explain, with examples, the following for each piece of vocabulary you are given:

  1. Meaning

  2. Conveying meaning

  3. Checking understanding

  4. Pronunciation

  5. Form (or sometimes called ‘part of speech’)

  6.  Anticipated problems & solutions

Remember, it is for you to show what you have learnt up to this point. With this in mind, you should be able to find help or a guide in your notes from the input sessions you have already had.

You should also write your own example sentences – don’t be tempted to use the ones from the dictionary!

 

Another section of this assignment will be dedicated to grammar. 

Much of what you need to do in this section will be similar to the vocabulary section. You might need more background here, so I would suggest you do some reading before starting the course.

Reading relevant books will help you to save time later on and build your confidence throughout the course.

Some good books to help you here will be Advanced Grammar in Use, Practical English Usage, Grammar for English Language Teachers, or Teaching English Grammar (affiliate links).

 

CELTA Course Assignment 3: Language Skills Related Tasks

These tasks will be based on an authentic piece of English language. You should have quite a bit of flexibility here to chose this, for example you could use many different types of sources such as articles, songs, videos, and so on.

With that authentic piece of language, you can then think about what you want the students to learn and make the tasks around this. You will need to explain why you have chosen this task, but this will be quite brief.

You need to do some reading for this task as it asks you to explain how to teach different skills in English.

Think about the skills as follows:

  • Receptive skills: reading and listening
  • Productive skills: writing and speaking

To apply what you have read, you will likely need to create possible exercises, or tasks, for each of these skills.

 

For every task you make for the skills above, you will need to give your reasoning, or rationale, for including this task in your lesson.

For example, you could possibly the students to read to get the general idea of the text (reading for gist), as your first reading task. Then, follow this with comprehension questions on the text they have read. It doesn’t have to all be about incredible tasks here, simple ones work well, too.

There are many different ways to approach this, but try to keep your aims and objectives clear in your mind at all times. If you do this, you will be fine!

 

CELTA Course Assignment 4: Lessons from the Classroom

As this assignment comes at the end of the course, it is mostly reflecting on what you have done.

You need to follow the instructions carefully (again!) to get a good grade. You will also need to think about things like your observations of the trainers, your peers and your own observed lessons.

This time, you will need to write about your own strengths and weaknesses. There will also be room for you to write about your development as a teacher.

Other points which might be included in assignment 4 are things like classroom management and lesson planning, among others!

It really does cover a wide range of topics, so look at what your CELTA centre wants you to do. Then all you have to do is follow what they ask for!

It might help to keep some sort of diary throughout the CELTA course to write assignment 4. It would certainly save you any time in thinking about what to write later on.

Imagine how you will feel at the end of the course; your brain might be ready to shut down! Hence, diary notes could save you some mental energy here.

Below is also a very detailed Slideshare presentation by Jo Gakonga of ELT Planning, an experienced EFL teacher and teacher trainer who has a fantastic website. It explains the main elements of the ‘lessons from the classroom’ assignment in detail.

 

 

Useful Links

Focus on the Learner – Assignment 1

  • One example of the ‘Focus on the Learner’ assignment, available from scribd.com, is below.

CELTA Course Assignment 2: Language Related Task

  • Below is another example of a CELTA course assignment available from scribd.com.

 

CELTA Course Assignment 3: Language Skills Related Task

A screenshot of an example CELTA course assignment 3 is below – you can click on the image below or here to view the PDF document in full

And another example of the ‘language skills related task’ assignment is available here

CELTA Course Assignment 4: Lessons from the classroom

There are many of these available online but this assignment is very personal. It’s all about you and your  learning.

These assignments are helpful for an idea of what to expect, but not more than that.

Again from CELTA Wikispaces, this is PDF example of the assignment. You can also click on the image below to view it.

 

CELTA Course Assignments: Any more questions?!

So, I think I have covered all the main points above.

If you have any further questions, leave them in the comments below!

 

 

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I think the language skills topic on the CELTA is incredibly useful. As someone who rarely uses textbooks, I’m always searching for authentic reading and listening materials to use in class. Topic 3 on the CELTA gave me a solid overview of how to plan a receptive skills lesson, and the basics I learnt from this module still underpin my practice.

I’ve written an overview of the assignment and a few tips below. Here is a copy of my assignment, and here is a link to the authentic text on the BBC website.

What do I have to do?

Basically this, as the CELTA syllabus states:

That’s a snippet from the CELTA handbook. It only mentions the criteria for reading lessons, but there’s a breakdown for the other skills too. You’ll find this on page 8, and further info on page 17.

So, you have to prove you can do all of the above in a written assignment. This means designing your own lesson based on an authentic text (reading or listening). You must include opportunities in your lesson for students to also practise their productive skills (speaking or writing).

The assignment outline I was given was something like this:

Total words: 1000

Task:Choose one authentic text from the options your tutor will give you

  • Consider your students needs, ability, etc.
  • Don’t adapt or grade the text – if you do then it’s not authentic

Part 1: justify your choice of text (150 words)

  • Why is it suitable for your learners? Reference your background reading (Harmer, Scrivener, etc.)

Part 2:Receptive skill task design (550 words)

  • Talk about how you will introduce the text topic
  • Design an initial reading task for the students (e.g. a gist task)
  • Talk about any vocabulary that you need to pre-teach
  • Design a task where students read for specific detail
  • Explain what the tasks achieve and why they are suitable/useful. Mention background reading when you do this

Part 3: Productive skill task design (300 words)

  • Think of a follow-up task based on the text. This should be either a speaking or a writing activity
  • Write a little rationale on why you’ve chosen this task, how it exploits the text, why is it good for your learners, etc.

That’s an abridged version of the assignment, you’ll no doubt get more detailed info from your tutor, but that is pretty much it.

Tips for task design

My lesson was for upper-intermediate learners.

Part 2: for a lead-in, get the students to talk about the topic. My text was about crazy things that people do while they are sleepwalking. What better way to get students interested in the text than having them discuss that very thing?

What crazy things might people do while they sleepwalk?

I got their ideas up on the board

If you do something like this then you have the basis of your first task.

You have 2 minutes to read the text. Does the text mention any of your ideas on the board?

Students scan the text for relevant information, but also they read for general meaning (gist) as the topics above may appear in the text but worded differently.

I find this is a great initial task for reading/listening texts. Using student ideas gives them a bit of investment in the text too. I use this all the time:

(Another CELTA lesson based on a listening text about New Zealand)

Lead-in: what do you know about New Zealand? (elicit and board responses)

Orientate students to text

Gist Task: Are any of your ideas mentioned in the text?

(A lesson I made last year on a listening text about biscuits injuring people)

Lead-in: what injuries might you get from biscuits (elicit and board responses)

Orientate students to text

Gist Task: Are any of your ideas mentioned in the text?

You can find another example in my lesson about Boudica

Detail task:

True or False questions are generally a good idea for a detail task. I won’t go into much detail here as you’ll get plenty of input about this on your course, but what I would say is this. T/F questions don’t always need a clear answer– you can manipulate your questions in such a way that will provoke discussion among students. By making the answer to a question slightly ambiguous, students may express their opinions, and in doing so they

a) might show a deeper understanding of the text

b) engage more in the text and topic

c) practise more English!

etc.

You can see an example of this in my assignment. Another idea is to include a question which may involve your pre-taught vocabulary. This is a good way to check that they really did understand it!

Part 3: On reflection, I think my productive skills task was a bit rubbish to be honest. You could do better I’m sure. However, whether it’s good or not, you can still get a good mark if you justify WHY you chose that task. My task involved creativity, my students were very creative, so…

a) it was relevant to the learners

b) it showed I learnt a bit about my learners in previous classes

c) it showed that I used what I learnt to inform my practice

So, I guess my main tip for this assignment is to justify everything you do. Think carefully about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Mention your learners throughout the assignment – think about what they gain from the tasks you’ve set. Get a few quotes in the assignment from experts but don’t go overboard – 1000 words isn’t much. Finally, remember what you do in this assignment as it’s extremely useful when you’re starting out!

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Posted in CELTA tips and tagged CELTA, efl, elt, IH Budapest, language skills, language skills assignment, reading for gist, receptive skills lesson, teacher training, tefl on by Peter Pun. 12 Comments

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