And so it begins…
After 5 years of post-CELTA teaching experience, 6 months of studying hard for module 1 and 9 months of working on my module 3 assignment, it’s time to deal with the DELTA nightmare; module 2.
My path led me to International House Barcelona and so far, I am more than happy with my choice. They are running a blended course for the first time, which has an online component and a face-2-face phase. From February to August, I’ll be writing my background essays and PDA. Then, I’m going to teach my lessons and write my lesson plans and post-lesson reflections in September. Since I live in Tarragona, I was able to be observed teaching my group there , both for the diagnostic and LSA1. I will also have my experimental lesson with the same group.
And now let’s cut to the point…
I chose to focus on Lexis, both for my diagnostic and LSA1. I thought it was a good idea to choose the same area, since when you do your diagnostic, you get some useful feedback which you can use in your same-area LSA. It turned out to be a wise choice..
My diagnostic went really well. I chose collocations in the field of birthdays. I used a reading text from New Cutting edge pre- intermediate which was really interesting. It described how birthdays are celebrated in different parts of the world. I activated interest and previous knowledge using some photographs of different birthday traditions in Japan, Latin America, Germany, etc. Then, students read the text and matched each paragraph to a picture. There was one distractor- one paragraph did not have a picture match. Students did an activity from the book; matching the collocations to their meaning and I also encouraged them to find more birthday-related collocations in the text. The final stage was to complete a questionnaire, where I highlighted the collocations for students to notice. After they had answered the questions, they mingled, asked each other and wrote down some answers.
My tutor’s feedback was really positive and encouraging. She suggested the following areas for development:
• Although she loved the questionnaire, she suggested using a freer activity at the end; I didn’t, because my group is mixed-ability, A1-B1 and I usually assign some writing for homework, as a freer task.
• Dealing better with emergent language, not just focusing on form, but helping learners develop more vocabulary.
• Differentiating materials or activities to cater for all levels.
• Experimenting with less homogeneous grouping, not just grouping by level.
I focused on adjective-noun collocations in the context of holidays. My target items were:
• Crowded beach
• Sandy beach
• Vibrant nightlife
• Self-catering accommodation
• Peaceful atmosphere
• Relaxing atmosphere
• Luxurious hotel
One of my main aims was to increase learners’ awareness of adjective-noun collocations, so I had two activities to help them become more collocation-curious.
I differentiated materials, designing 3 handouts; one for strong learners, one for average and one for weaker learners.
I launched the lesson by asking learners what is important to them when they go on holiday. There were two tables in every handout for this task: the first provided some ideas, e.g., scenery, sightseeing, the food, the accommodation.
The second table provided some useful expressions, different types for each level, e.g. the first thing I do when I go on holiday is.. or -ing is really important to me.. I don’t really care about…
Once they shared in pairs, they also shared in open class; this is a good technique and it will make your tutor happy, as you are repeating the task. I gave some good feedback on language there.
Next, I told them I would read to them about a holiday I had and they would have to understand if I enjoyed it. No other task, just to process for meaning.
Then they listened again to complete a gap-fill. For stronger learners, I had extracted both elements of adjective-noun collocations from the text and provided no help. For average learners, I had extracted the adjectives and put them in a table. For lower learners, I had extracted the nouns, and put them in a table. It turns out that the task was effectively designed, as it provided good support for weaker learners and a reasonable challenge for the strong ones, as my tutor commented.
After that, we moved to MFP. I gave weaker students photos and average-strong students got definitions and I asked them to match them with the right collocation on the whiteboard. I concept-checked by eliciting antonyms, e.g. what is the opposite of a crowded beach? Empty, deserted beach, etc. That was excellent according to my tutor, as they were making use of what they already know and thinking in collocation mode.
I modelled and did silent drilling first, i.e. allowing them to just hear it from me 2-3 times before repeating. I focused on catenation between adjectives and nouns in peaceful atmosphere and relaxing atmosphere, as I always make them aware of features of connected speech in my lessons. The whiteboard looked something like that:
When I was done with that, we moved to collocational competence. I gave them a grid with the adjectives and nouns and asked them to create more collocations with the given words.
Then, I projected the key and dealt with any questions.
The next task, which was my favourite, was asking learners to go autonomous; to go to https://www.rhymezone.com/ or http://www.freecollocation.com/ and find more adjectives that collocate with atmosphere, nightlife, etc. Students found some lovely collocations and shared their findings in open class, which was really nice and rewarding… I do this often with them, and I would advise you against doing a complicated activity for the first time when you are being assessed. Try it a couple of times first, and make sure your learners know what to do.
And finally..the free task. I asked students to talk about a holiday they had, using some of the collocations. I applied fluid grouping, i.e. mixing weak with strong students. I had provided different sentence openers in their differentiated materials, so weak students had a lot of scaffoliding to help them prepare their speaking. I gave a couple of minutes for preparation, however, some students were too self-conscious and they started writing the story of their lives. I got a little anxious there.. I told them to just make notes or bullet points and not write entire sentences. I rushed this stage a bit, then they started talking in groups, where I monitored well and gave some individual feedback to some, prompted others to use collocations and answered some questions that came up. In the end, 3 students managed to talk about their holidays in open class, but only a couple of collocations came up. However, I mentioned this in my reflection and as it happens, it wasn’t a big problem, as the lesson was a very coherent whole and most importantly, student-centred. Only two criteria were partially met. And I’m proud to say, that in the next LSAs, I fully met all the teaching and planning criteria.
My essay partially met five criteria and fully met the rest. According to my tutor, I managed to analyse a relatively narrow area with a very good degree of depth and an impressive analysis, thoroughly backed up by key sources.
I got a Merit for both my essay and lesson. Very happy with the result! 🙂 If you are interested in reading my lesson plan and essay, send me a message!
Special thanks to Jim Fuller for his help!