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

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.

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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.

My LSA1

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:

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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.

 

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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!