Brighton Breezy

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IATEFL has been as good as ever this year, my annual CPD shot in the arm.  Not only that, every day I feel part of a community that’s interesting and interested.  As I sit on the train back to Cambridge I want to share ideas on the ‘threads’ I’ve followed and you’ll see stuff below on:

– CELTA

– CLIL, to pass on during CLIL training

– developing NNS teachers, which I can include in the message I deliver to NNS trainees who feel ‘less than’ and which I could incorporate in input on CELTA courses where we have a significant NNS contingent.

– trainee-led seminars

CELTA

Clare Harrison, head of the Teacher Development and Curriculum team at Cambridge, so responsible for the academic aspect of CELTA, gave a pivotal presentation of where they’re at with CELTA and where they’re going.   CELTA’s still the one, 72.4% of employers surveyed worldwide require it, and perhaps because it was ahead of its time when John Haycraft devised it over 50 years ago, it hasn’t needed to change much.  But the world is changing, with early learning, digital and the increase of specialist teaching areas e.g. CLIL and EAP, Cambridge want to ensure CELTA is fit for purpose in the future.   A survey of employers, centres, tutors, and candidates revealed that most are mostly happy with the status quo, but there were suggestions:

  • Half of the employers want CELTA for YLs
  • There’s a need for support on use of digital elements with coursebooks
  • Support for teaching larger classes

Clare was honest enough to say that Cambridge are unclear on where to go but did say:

– CELTYL and the extension were withdrawn due to lack of demand

– ICELT is little used (please promote it, Cambridge!)

– Cambridge are aware the NS – NNS ratio is now 50-50

The CELTA syllabus document gives centres and tutors lots of freedom and we look at that to work within it to design input for this cohort of trainees, whoever and wherever they may be (mentioning that the breadth of the CELTA reach successfully includes all-NNS courses such as Ural Federal University and ones embedded in a BA (Oxford Brookes) and an MA (IH London and Kings College).  Then Clare asked if we should have a fully-online option, assignments and plans submitted electronically, a flipped learning approach?   Jason Anderson who attended Clare’s session wonders whether some of the niche needs re YLs and large classes could be included on CELTA but offered as online input…which would synch with the flipped idea. As I reflect, I think of Ben Beaumont of Trinity talking about constructive alignment of what we ‘teach’ on training courses with the needs of teachers.  Of course all of this generates more questions than answers and gives us a lot of work to do.  I’m thinking of cascading to my colleagues at Bell, a contribution to the TT Sig journal, experimenting on my CELTA courses this year…maybe an IATEFL proposal for Liverpool? Watch this space.

Alastair Douglas shared new approaches to what trainees do when they observe TP, to improve their engagement.  Among his ideas:

  • having an extra column on an observation task, so that having commented on what the teacher’s doing, they suggest an improvement/alternative
  • the trainee choosing what to focus on based on either their own action points or the focus of the lesson they are watching.  Within this, possibilities include a book of tasks they select from or them designing their own observation tasks with prior guidance and supervision from the tutor
  • using the chat forum Slack, suggested by Marie Therese Swabey, so that tutor and observers are in ‘conversation’ during a lesson and can  silently comment and prompt discussion

Trainee feedback was positive, including ‘I usually fill in the sheets depending on my mood, but this helped’.

Olga Connolly of BKC Moscow reported her MA findings on giving oral group feedback.  Where tutors on CELTA have two roles – assessor and developer – which is prominent after TP?  She recorded feedback sessions of 8 colleagues and found that they were mostly developmental.  There were two points that interested me.  First, the positive element of balanced feedback was given in a list ‘you monitored well, rapport, grading…’ while focus on what didn’t go well included exploration.  Light bulb!  We should stay with the positive a little, exploring what made the rapport and how other trainees might be inspired.  Second, that knowledge about the TP students was given little prominence, as was the effect of the lesson on them – a good reminder!    Plus, if ever I’m involved in the CPD of a group of trainers, I’d do what Olga did.

CLIL

Manuela Kelly Calzini of Trinity College London in Italy talked about ‘The Mantle of the Expert’ as a way for primary CLIL teachers to encourage learning through drama e.g. a pupil becomes Einstein and answers his classmate’s question in an info gap.  She emphasised that it’s ok to move from L1 to L2, maybe asking in L1 and pupils answering in L2 or vice versa, and that a CLIL course shouldn’t be about a chronological grammar syllabus but language using.  This point came up in Jane Willis’ session, too: ‘focus on meaning…free use of language.’

Silvana da Camilli of CATS school in Cambridge also mentioned the role of language in CLIL, priming her A1-A2 level secondary class with task-specific language.  Then when they do the task, it’s less likely they’ll have a ‘can’t do’ feeling that leads to a switch to L1.

Rachel Kirsch and Rena Basak of Docentis shared their training experience working with Kazakh CLIL teachers.   They improved their course by making it blended, using an LMS for course participants to upload pre-course reflections on their current practice, which was more informative than the usual needs analysis.  They will use it next time to also incorporate flipped work, input being processed before a f2f session, and to ask CPs to upload clips of their teaching both pre- and post-course for tutors to view.

Andrew Walkley gave us some great approaches to incorporating critical thinking in lessons. Give students a voice by showing them the language to:

* question facts ‘the figures don’t stand up to…’

* describe ourselves ‘as a [man], I believe…’

* highlight prejudice and show stereotypes ‘just because I’m a [man], I don’t…’

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It was heartening after my talk reporting on my experiment teaching soft CLIL with my English students that delegates came up wanting to share their experiences.

NNS Teachers

Katherine Martinkevich’s talk on supporting NNS teachers presented a problem in her Kiev school, and their solution.  With 2/3 of their teachers NNS having an IELTS 8/9 level of English, they’re in an enviable position…but not so.  Students’ perceptions were based on their nationality not language competence or experience, and the teachers themselves doubted their own ability in relation to the 1/3 NS.  So the teachers asked for language support sessions and Katherine ran a successful course.

Ross Thorburn gave us trainers another message for NNS trainees: the YLs and teens at EF schools in China that he interviewed, and importantly their parents, think NNS teachers are better at teaching grammar and vocabulary. Not only that, but he found that where both groups value NS teachers when it comes to pronunciation models, students don’t often recognise the difference between NS and NNS pronunciation.   His survey also showed that the school’s own sales staff were more pro-NS teachers than the parents were.  Delegates suggested that this could be addressed by workshops for both sales staff and external agents, focussing on NNS teachers’ many strength

Trainee-led seminars

Jane Mandalios told us about her trainee-led seminars in an English Medium university in Greece. Her students are trainee teachers and the seminars ‘made the trainees the facilitators of the learning of others’.  The benefits of this include:

– ownership of the material…making it memorable for the seminar leader who’s researched and is leading

– empathy with Jane in the teacher role, realising the teacher doesn’t and can’t know everything

– spin offs in terms of motivation and confidence

Looking forward to IATEFL 2019!

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