My first day at school

So, I started my CELTA course yesterday and it was great.

There are ten of us in the class, only four of whom (including myself) are native English speakers – three British and one Australian. The others are from Spain, Iran, the Netherlands, India, Finland and Albania, so it’s quite a mix. There also seems to be a mix of ages, although I’d say I’m one of the oldest, and it’s a 6/4 gender split (in favour of females). By the sound of things, there are some of us who are experienced teachers, some who are beginners, and others who have maybe done some teaching in the past but never trained as teachers. Anyway, we all seemed to get on really well and that can only be a good thing as we’re going to be working closely together over the next eight weeks.

We spent the first part of the morning on various games and activities to get to know a little bit about one another, which was fun – but of course there was more to it than that. Tomorrow, we each have to lead one of those games / activities with our designated learner groups. I’ve been put in the group of trainees who will be teaching elementary (A2) learners initially and upper intermediate (B2) learners later on in the course, and the activity I have signed up to lead tomorrow is about finding things in common. Hopefully it will be fun. The good thing is that this first teaching practice is unobserved and unassessed – unlike the one I will be delivering on Friday! Fortunately, I don’t yet know what that will be about, so I can’t worry about it just yet!

After a bit of admin and an introduction to how the course works, we were then given a Czech lesson completely in Czech. By the end of the day yesterday I thought I’d forgotten most of it but I woke up this morning and found myself saying ‘Odkud jste?’ (where are you from?) so maybe some of it did sink in after all!

Dobrý den, já jsem Julia. Já jsem z Anglie. Jsem studentka.

Not that it really matters – after all, the whole point was for us to see how it felt to be a complete beginner learning another language from scratch with input only in that language. And to be honest, although it was hard, it was more fun than I’d expected it to be!

We then watched a video of an experienced tutor, which sparked some debate in our group because she insisted on ‘I’ve got stomach ache’ rather than ‘I’ve got a stomach ache’. Personally I would always say ‘I’ve got a stomach ache’ – and I’m English and so was she. (The Cambridge dictionary appears to agree with me in its example, although it also says ‘stomach ache’ is both countable and uncountable so perhaps either is correct – but in that case should the teacher have insisted on her version?) Interesting.

And that was it. We handed in our observation notes, packed our bags and left. I got home at about 4.00, typed my assignment deadlines and teaching practice dates into my calendar and then promptly fell asleep!

I went to the running club again last night and although I felt a little bit sidelined for the 10 minutes before we set off, a girl called Ester soon took me under her wing and everyone in our little group high-fived me (as well as each other!) at the end of the session. So that was nice.

But by the time I’d got home, had a shower and something to eat, I was exhausted. I’d intended to write a quick post about my first day but I was too wiped out. I’m hoping that gets easier as the course goes on!

Today, as I don’t have any specific homework (other than preparing for tomorrow’s activity), I’ve been reading about different teaching methods, and I’m really excited to get stuck in to trying them out.

The book I’ve been reading has also made me think about how I naturally speak, and what type of speech I want to encourage in my learners. The example the author uses is the sentence, ‘What are you going to do about it?’ He says that in natural speech he would pronounce this something like ‘whatcha gunna do abow-di?’ But is it appropriate for us to encourage our learners to speak like that? Or should we encourage them to pronounce each word absolutely correctly? Or something in between? And what about listening skills – should they be taught to recognise ‘whatcha gunna do abow-di’ or not? It’s all fascinating stuff.

I can’t wait to get stuck in!

2 thoughts on “My first day at school

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