Week Ten: Language A

What was this week’s module about?

This was the first week of looking at Language, and the focus has been on techniques for teaching grammar. It’s been a fascinating deep dive into generative situations (those picture situations you use when introducing grammar points), minimal pairs (not just for pron!), and a guest appearance from Scott Thornbury.

Oh fun! Grammar teaching is pretty basic, though?

Well it probably is, but I reckon it’s also one of those areas of teaching that you don’t really develop much post-CELTA. Have a think about when you last saw workshop in a conference programme looking at methods and approaches related to it? Probably not recently, and if so it was on its own. It’s been a very interesting process reflecting on the way that my grammar teaching has been influenced (or even defined) by the way my coursebooks present it, or in my last posting in the way to school dictated it be taught (complete with obligatory rule-copying time in each class, I kid you not!)

Didn’t you say last week that Dan Barber was the tutor?

Yep! A lovely surprise, in fact, as well as a slightly embarrassing one. In my rush to get through the forum task this week, I rattled off a very dumb answer (the first answer in fact), and quickly ran away with my tail between my legs. Hardly mature or reflective of me, so I’m vowing to do better next time.

What was the assignment this week?

Part of a Dip-level lesson plan on teaching a grammar structure. I won’t tell you which one, in case it’s the same next time around!

Define Dip-level lesson plan, would you?

Much less daunting than you would think! The real challenge is brevity (always a strain for me), as the examiner will in reality only have ten minutes to read through the whole lesson plan (including language analyses), and so there is a large emphasis on writing clearly and efficiently. Somewhere along the way in my career I’ve picked up that lesson plans need to be detailed explanations of everything that happens in the classroom. That can end up becoming a badly written story about what the teacher does step by step, and when you’ve added in potential issues and solutions you’ve written a novel. So the focus is on what the students do. Obvious, really.

Were there any lows?

Self-doubt creeping in again. It’s the strangest thing; writing Dip-level assignments has always seemed quite straight forward, but when we have to do something practical like coming up with a pron activity or writing part of a lesson plan, you suddenly start to feel that your ideas aren’t good enough. This has been the challenge this week – getting past the idea that my teaching isn’t at the level yet (even though I’ve been doing it longer than a decade and train other teachers to do it too).

What about highlights?

Getting the feedback on the lesson plan. Strictly speaking that didn’t happen this week, but since I’m writing this after the fact I feel it’s important to add this here. Imposter syndrome is nothing but a pesky gremlin that gets in the way, probably on my part in a way of justifying any potential failure. My lesson plan was great and got a very good mark, and was a nice reminder for me to stop being a silly bugger and start believing in myself again.

What’s next?

More language! Language analysis in fact. Fun! No, really…