Posted in EFL

Observation and Feedback



As of next week, I will be trying my hand at some teaching practice (TP) observation and feedback. During observations the tutor needs to record the stages of the lesson with a running commentary and complete an overall feedback sheet with strengths and areas to improve on. After the observation the tutor conducts a session with the trainee teachers.


I have observed a couple of these feedback sessions and noted the stages the tutor usually goes through. Here is a rough outline of the stages:

  1. Trainees are given self-reflection sheets to complete.
  2. (Optional) Trainees pair up and give feedback to each other.
  3. As a group the trainees write up key words on good and bad points in the TPs.
  4. The tutor goes through the boarded key words with the group.
  5. Comments are elicited from the group about one of the TPs.
  6. Then the trainee responsible for the TP comments on their own lesson.
  7. The tutor summarises the lesson and things to think about.
  8. The tutor comments on what has been achieved.
  9. Repeat of stages 4 to 7.
  10. The tutor recaps the important points to take away and boards key words.

In stage 5, the tutor may ask the trainee to sum up their TP in a couple of words. This summary is then explored using follow-up questions, such as ‘Why did you do that?’, ‘What did you do next?’, ‘How could you have done it differently?’. In stage 6, the tutor uses their notes made in the running commentary to structure feedback. Then in stage 7, the good/bad points form is used to comment on achievements in general.

My Reflection

Although this can be challenging for the trainees, a group approach to TP feedback better enable trainees to self-evaluate and learn from their peers. If trainees are able to notice their own areas for improvement, they may be more open to constructive criticism and advice. In fact, self-awareness is seen as a sign of progress in the CELTA and can make the difference between a pass and a fail in TPs. One of the most difficult things about giving feedback must be having to give negative feedback and/or failing students. However, this can be eased by giving the students a chance to spot their own difficulties, as facilitated by the procedure above, rather then just lecturing them.


Retrieved 18/1/18 from



Posted in EFL

Trainer-in-training portfolio


A CELTA trainer-in- training is required to keep a record of their progress throughout their training, hence his blog. However, it’s gradually dawning on me that there is quite a lot more to be done. So, as we venture into week 2 of the CELTA I think it’s time to get organised.

The coursework for the teacher in training can be divided into three sections: Pre-CELTA; During the CELTA; and Post-CELTA coursework.

Pre-CELTA coursework

  • Introduction to CELTA training
  • Preparation for CELTA training
  • The course programme
  • Interviewing and selecting candidates
  • Looking at the pre-course task

CELTA coursework

Involvement in:

  • The selection procedure
  • Programme design
  • Materials and session design
  • Session delivery
  • Teaching practice and feedback
  • Observation of experienced teachers and peer observation
  • Marking of writing assignments
  • Monitoring progress

Post-CELTA coursework

Completion and submission of a portfolio. Containing:

  • CV and trainer-in-training profile
  • Trainer-in-training programme and schedule
  • Course timetable
  • Completed tasks set by the training supervisor
  • Input session plans and accompanying handouts for sessions given
  • Copy of feedback from tutor who observed the sessions
  • Written feedback sheets for any teaching practice led by the trainer-in-training together with the candidate’s lesson plan and self-evaluation, supervisors written feedback to the trainee and to the trainer-in-training.
  • Feedback from the supervisor on the marking of assignments
  • Progress reports from the training supervisor
  • Outline plans for two sessions in addition to those delivered during the training programme
  • An evaluative piece of up to 1,500 words on the process of undergoing training, commenting on strengths and weaknesses as a prospective tutor. This is based on a journal, daily log sheets, observations, and notes.
  • Bibliography of works consulted during the course


To be honest this list looks quite daunting, even if on this part-time CELTA I have more time to work on the portfolio. The first step I have made is to put together a folder with the various sections labelled. However, I soon realised that this folder/portfolio is going to require the destruction of a small rainforest. In fact, there does seem to be a lot of paper going on in the CELTA in general. Hopefully this will improve in the future… We have actually set up an Edmodo group to share materials throughout the CELTA which might be one way to streamline paper use, but I will explore this element in another post. My focus for now is the Post-CELTA coursework list, which I will use as a kind of check list as I move ahead. Wish me luck!


CELTA Trainer Training and Induction Handbook


Retrieved 17/01/18 from

Posted in EFL

Input Sessions: Controlled Practice


This is a continuing record of my experience as a teacher-in-training for the CELTA.

This input session introduced the idea and purpose of a controlled practice stage in a second language lesson. The trainees took part in three activities: a controlled practice; a freer practice; and a free practice. The first was a chain game in which a repetitive pattern was used to practice a specific grammar structure. In the second activity, trainees created a short story using a set of vocabulary items. Finally, the trainees engaged in an open discussion.


After each activity the trainees reflected on some of the following points:

  • The aim.
  • How controlled the activity was.
  • Language focus.
  • Focus on accuracy or fluency.
  • Whether to correct or not.

Key points

It was pointed out that controlled practice usually comes before freer or free practice to ensure student success in the free practice. The reasons for this include:

  • Pre-learning opportunities.
  • Increased practice of target language.
  • Opportunities for monitoring and scaffolding.
  • Rehearsal

Finally, recommendations were made for setting up activities and when to correct students. For example, controlled practice activities allow for more correction than free practice.

My Reflection

As with previous sessions, trainees experienced activities before reflecting on the reasons for doing it. This meant the aims of the session were first experienced implicitly, then elicited, and finally presented explicitly to the group on the board or on handouts. I suppose this puts trainees in a more active role, working things out for themselves rather being lectured. I noticed that some of the trainees were quite resistant to this, possibly due to previous learning experiences or differing expectations.


Retrieved 17/01/18 from