Archive for the ‘Delta Module Two’ Category

When I was administering the end-of-year Speaking test in one of my Upper-Intermediate groups last spring, I was struck with how non-fluent my students were: around half of them were speaking slowly and with frequent pauses, which made a sharp contrast with their overall language proficiency. It was evident that there had been something fundamentally wrong with my teaching – apparently, using lots of authentic listening in class and for homework, as well as providing the group with lots of genuinely communicative speaking activities of all sorts, was not enough to help my students in this respect. One of the reasons might have been that, as they were living in a monolingual environment and only used English in class, when they engaged in speaking activities my students always felt too safe and took their time to formulate their thoughts, and thus did not progress.

So, when it came to doing a Speaking skill assignment on Delta Mod2, fluency was the obvious choice. A week of frantic digging in literature ensued, and I didn’t regret the choice of topic for a second as it turned out to be a fascinating area.

I’ve been using the insights from that week’s reading for over seven months now in a variety of ways, ranging from little ‘tweaks’ to full 90-minute activities to, recently, a series of workshops for higher level students, so now I want to re-examine that experience. There’s quite a lot, so I’m splitting this into a series of posts.

Part 1. The theory, a post about key insights from literature into what factors contribute (or detract from) to fluency, illustrated with a number of real life examples that I used with my students to raise awareness of these factors (the longest post in the blog – not for the faint of heart!)
Part 2. The practice (I’ll add the links when the posts have been finished):

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This post was written on Day 2 of Delta M2. I’m leaving it as it is – just corrected a few factual mistakes.

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Yesterday was my first day on Delta M2 at International House London. It was… overwhelming. Met a bunch of awesome people. A lot of them were saying they were feeling apprehensive and not Delta material. Well, that was my biggest concern said out loud! You don’t really voice that kind of worries to friends and family back at home, having just paid a hefty amount in course fees and accommodation!

The first day cleared up a few questions.

Is Delta more intensive than CELTA?

Looks like it definitely is. On my CELTA things really started to heat up by the end of the first week – I remember strolling around Oxford in the few days and wondering why I’m not in a crazy rush yet. Here, I stayed up until 1 am last night, woke up at 4.30 because I just can’t sleep thinking of the choice of topic for my first big assignment (it’s also a bit stuffy though: yesterday was the hottest day in England in 7 years!) I think I’ll be skipping lunch today too, what with the first lesson with our group!

Is the library available outside learning hours?

Yup (around 3 hours in the evening + 30 min in the morning + 4 hours  on Saturdays). I don’t regret bringing a suitcase full of books, though: this will mean I can pick books I haven’t had access to, as opposed the titles most critical for the current assignment. Also, one can only borrow 4 books at a time, which might not be enough. I think every book I brought is available in the library (the methodology section is amazing – sth like 8 bookcases on every conceivable subject).

Will there be opportunities to teach unobserved between assessed lessons?
This is one thing I think the CELTA course sorely lacks. In fact, on CELTA I got lucky as one of the teachers in our Teaching Practice group didn’t come to the course and as a result we got a chance to teach our new group unobserved at the beginning of Week 3. For me, it was the moment everything clicked into place and the moment I finally started getting some ‘above standard’ grades.

On Delta, we only teach 3 assessed hours in the first 5 weeks. Everything else is either diagnostic/unassessed, or unobserved.

Will I have to teach beginners?
No. There are three levels (mid-intermediate: B1, upper-intermediate – B2, lower advanced – C1), of each teaching group teaches 2. Apparently, the reason is the new immigration law that more or less makes it impossible for lower level students to get a student visa, so this must be the case for other UK schools too.

Will there be enough students to teach?
Apparently group size will be around 15-20 students (and apparantly there’s a bit of a waiting list for Delta teaching practice).

Things I wish I’d brought with me

Stationery, like a hole punch and more writing paper. I thought I’d buy them here, but now I can’t find a decent stationery shop apart from the (pretty scant) stand at the Saintsbury’s. Bathroom scales: the same thing, I can’t spot a single shop selling electrical appliances, and don’t have the time to go looking. A few books that I wanted to read with a highlighter – just accidentally left ‘From Grammar to Grammaring’ standing on my bookshelf 😦
The card holder with my CPE vocabulary – wouldn’t mind brushing it up.

Things I’m glad I’ve brought with me
Definitely the laptop. And the kick scooter. 🙂 Books that turned my teaching around, peppered with highlighting and my notes in the margin (probably will stand me in good stead for the essays).

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A nice coincidence: we were discussing our beliefs about teaching with other trainees, and the woman I got in the group with turned out one of the few whose talk on IATEFL I’d seen online back in April (I hadn’t recognized her)! More than that, the first question on the list was the actual topic of her presentation. Talk of the small world of ELT!

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A few thing I want to have a record of to explore further later:

Key ideas from day one:
Terminology frames awareness (if you don’t know about collocations/prominence etc, you won’t even notice them; ‘my language is getting worse’: you’ve got to know about interlanguage to know that in fact this is a good sign!)
Focus on meaning > Focus on form is crucial for all kinds of reasons (mainly for making the language relevant)
The idea of the importance of on-the-spot correction is based on behaviourism (other considerations: cognitive involvement, but also: interaction
Drilling is one end of a continuum
Exploiting a coursebook means analyzing each topic into subtopics and seeing the flaws and thinking how to compensate for bad material

Teaching tips:
Cecilia’s ‘writing feedback’ activity: write feedback to s/s’ writing on a separate piece of paper; stick these pieces around the classroom and challenge the s/s to find their feedback;

Aman’s idea: sticking s/s’ writing to the walls for them to compare their performance with everyone else’s

Making drilling relevant (Fransis’s lesson: drills with gaps + drills with student-produced sentences – set a communicative task+ s/s produce written 1-sentence summaries)

Spoken corrective feedback: pick out ‘great language’ – some flawless, some needing slight improvement; present it during FB as ‘great language’, thus also motivating s/s to pay attention to correction.

Teaching priorities:
Explore research into under-/overused structures in learner English.

Read up on:
Accent intelligibility (4 key areas: prominence etc, J. Jenkins
Framework for TBL (big idea: focus on meaning comes before focus on form)