Andréia Zakime has worked in the field of language teaching for more than 15 years. She has taught young learners and adults, and worked with course design and teacher training. She is currently a Cambridge CELTA tutor based in Barcelona. She is also the co-founder of What is ELT?, a a blog dedicated to teacher development and education.
Think about someone who is learning how to drive. Before they can sit behind the wheel and drive on their own, they need to practice and learn from a more experienced driver. Practicing in a controlled environment and with the support of an expert helps the new driver overcome fears, feel confident, learn and develop techniques and, most importantly, ensure everyone around is safe!
The same happens when you are getting into a TEFL career. Before you start teaching, it is important to practice and receive the feedback from a more experienced professional who will help you plan useful lessons and develop the skills needed to stand in front of a group of learners – face to face or online. This is why the practical component is compulsory in the most widely recognised and accepted language qualifications, like the Cambridge CELTA. With the coronavirus crisis, courses are now 100% online, and this means that the lessons from the practical part are also being delivered in this mode.
In this post, we’ll talk about the CELTA online teaching practice (also known as TP) and give you some tips to prepare for this important part of the course.
What happens during teaching practice?
On the CELTA course, you will teach 6 hours of assessed teaching practice supervised by a course tutor. You’ll be teaching a minimum of 8 TPs, and they are usually 40-minute to 1-hour long. Before teaching your lesson, your course tutor will give you instructions on what to do and show you the materials for the lesson. During the course, there is a dedicated time slot for you to plan lessons with your tutor.
The groups are usually composed of an average of eight students. Now that teaching practice is online, students may come from different parts of the world, and this is a great opportunity for teachers to help people who do not share the same first language learn and communicate in English effectively. On full-time courses, lessons take place every day, and on part-time courses, once a week, on Saturdays. Our TP students are very committed to the course and willing to learn!
The face-to-face and online teaching practice follow the exact same procedures required by Cambridge. Some of the procedures are:
- Teaching different levels
Throughout the course, you’ll be asked to teach at least two different groups, with students of different levels of ability in English. This means that you may start the course teaching a group of elementary learners, and then teach an intermediate group in the second half of the course. Or start with the higher-intermediate, and change to the pre-intermediate. This happens because it is important to practice how to plan and deliver lessons to different levels, as they require different teaching skills.
- Lesson types
You will have the chance to experiment with a range of lesson types – grammar, vocabulary, reading, listening, speaking, reading and writing. You’ll also be encouraged to try out different teaching techniques.
- Peer observation
You are not going to teach lessons every day. On some days, your peers will be teaching, and if you are not teaching, you’ll be asked to observe the other teachers – this is your opportunity to learn from your peers and give them feedback on things they are doing well and need to improve.
- Feedback and assessment
TPs are observed by both your peers and the course tutor. After the lesson, there is a group feedback session where the tutor gives feedback on the lessons taught on that day. All teachers from the TP group participate in the feedback session, and this meeting should be an opportunity to reflect on strengths, areas to consider, and how the theory discussed during input sessions is being put into practice. Apart from the feedback discussion, every teacher receives a feedback report after the lessons. This report contains comments by the tutor and also the lesson assessment. The two possible grades for teaching practice are “standard” or “not to standard”.
Online Teaching Practice
As mentioned before, all procedures described above take place both in face to face and online teaching practice. However, there are some technical differences to take into account when delivering lessons online. Here are some tips to help you prepare for online teaching practice:
- Get to know the platform
At Oxford TEFL, the online platform used in teaching practice is Zoom. On Zoom, you can teach synchronous lessons to up to 100 participants (but don’t worry – you won’t be teaching so many people on CELTA!), share the contents of your screen (like Power Point presentations, Google slides, pdf documents, etc.), group / pair students in different simultaneous rooms (called “breakout rooms”), amongst other things. On CELTA, you will have the chance to practice before you teach your first lesson, but you can also practice with friends and family beforehand to feel more confident when the course starts.
- Have your materials ready
It is extremely important to keep a clear board record when teaching lessons online. Having effective visuals will help you give clear instructions, maintain student attention and engagement, and ultimately help the learner organise and “digest” the content of the lesson more easily. Through Zoom, you can project images and presentations from any software you choose to use, so ensure you select one that you already feel comfortable with. Some popular choices are Power Point, Google Slides and Keynote.
- Anticipate problems and solutions
No software is immune to occasional glitches. Although Zoom is usually very stable and reliable, technical difficulties might occur during the lesson. Also, the quality of the internet connection (both yours and the students’) might fluctuate. When planning your lesson, remember to anticipate these problems and think about possible solutions. For example, if you plan to play a YouTube video but your Internet starts to break up, it might be a good idea to have a plan B. If suddenly you lose your connection completely, or Zoom stops working, don’t panic: remember that your tutor is there to give assistance and will help you handle the situation.
- Have a suitable, silent room
This is useful when you attend any online course, but especially important when you are teaching: consider having a dedicated room or area in your house for teaching practice (or your studies in general). This area should be well-lit (remember that students need to see you while you teach), quiet, and free of distractions. Having a neutral and professional background is also useful. To ensure that students can hear you well, consider using a headset/microphone during teaching practice. And remember to have your webcam on at all times!
Benefits of doing your teaching practice online
Standards of assessment for both online and face to face teaching practice are exactly the same, and the course tutors are prepared to help you teach in an online environment. The greatest advantage of doing TP online is that upon graduation, you will have already become an experienced online tutor due to the fact that you have already become accustomed to using the tools and techniques needed to teach effectively online. Another advantage is that you will have the chance to study and network with students and tutors from all over the world as opposed to those located only in the location where you are taking the course. This opens up more possibilities for learning about new cultures and adapting your classes to different student needs and learning styles. Whether you intend to teach face to face or teach online, gaining the CELTA qualification 100% online is one of the best ways to get started.
Don’t miss this chance to gain your CELTA qualification 100% online. Complete the application form here and take the first step to becoming a certified CELTA teacher intensively over 4-weeks or part-time over 13 weeks.
How can I find out more about the 100% Online CELTA course?
Visit our main course pages for our 4-week or 14-week 100% Online CELTA course or complete the enquiry form below and we will be happy to help you.