Delta Module 2 Week 2: The Going Gets Tougher

Dzień Dobry, Wrocław calling!

11695785_10101823046477273_5051946845036992849_n We’ve just finished week 2 here at IH Wrocław and things have definitely reached a more frenetic pace. I have been told and reassured however that after this week, things get more manageable. During this week we have completed or Professional Development Assignment (PDA) Stage 2, Finished all of our Developmental lessons, and been tasked with our first Language Systems Assignment. If it seems like a lot of work, that’s because it is. During the day there are input sessions from 12-3 and we’re observing our colleagues from 4-6 (or 6:15-8:15 for group 2). So there’s really not a lot of time to focus on incorporating the input sessions into your actual lessons just yet, I hope the idea is that we’ll have time before our first assessed lesson next week but we shall see.

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So far we’ve had input sessions on lesson shapes (TTT & PPP), clarifying and analysing target language, and phonology. Fridays are our 1-1 tutorials with our tutors to discuss our LSA’s and general feedback.

I have to say the workload is overwhelming. I haven’t had to write anything academic since I finished my MA 5 years ago, so switching gears is a bit of a shock to the system. Fortunately all of the candidates are supportive of each other, and we spend some of our (very) limited down time sharing lesson ideas, journal articles, and resources with each other. And of course there’s always the moral support over a glass of wine at the end of the day. It’s nice to be in a community of professionals who are passionate about learning and teaching!

I was asked last week by @anthonyash “What were you expecting?” To be honest, I thought it would be more experimental and lesson planning would be more hands on. I imagined lesson jamming and really pushing the boundaries of teaching. The lesson jamming hasn’t happened yet, but my boundaries have been pushed in other ways. The course is really more about making you a solid, proficient teacher. I was expecting to have to come up with lessons á la Thornbury or Judy Gilbert, but that’s simply not the case. Like I mentioned earlier, we spent a lot of time on the basic lesson shapes, so the idea is to have a good pedagogical grounding rather than collecting more bells and whistles (though sometimes there are bells and whistles!).

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Delta Module 2: The First Week

I‘ve just finished my first week of Delta Module 2 at IH Wrocław. I have to say it’s not what I’ve expected but no less challenging! Our students are all young, professional Poles with a very good level of English. They’re very cooperative and eager to learn but most importantly eager to apply what they’ve learned– which is not something accustomed to after a stint in Saudi Arabia!

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Students discuss agreeing and disagreeing during a TP

So far all of the candidates in my group (total of six) have completed a diagnostic lesson and a developmental lesson and received feedback. Our next (or first depending on how you look at it) is our LSA (Language Systems Assignment). This is a longer, more in depth analysis of a particular language system (lexis, phonology, grammar, functions, or discourse) of no more than 2500 words and an accompanying lesson plan.

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Mr Alex Tilbury, main course tutor

As in the CELTA, the problem isn’t that the work and assignments are particularly difficult or challenging, but that it’s a lot to manage in a short amount of time. A typical day includes teaching practice (TP) feedback, 2 input sessions, an hour break and then 2 hours of teaching practice/observation. As you can see there’s not a lot of time during the day to plan lessons, and/or work on assignments, let alone have lunch! Good time management and organisational skills are essential, and I think it’s interesting how Cambridge has worked this element of professionalism into the course.

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Mr Anthony Guaghan, co-tutor for the Delta course

I have to say our tutors are quite supportive and knowledgeable and this is something you should definitely consider when choosing where you do your Module 2. It would be nice if we had more time to reflect on the input sessions but this is par for the course.

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Input Session

Aside from not having enough time, the only issue I have is with the teaching practice. Specifically the students. They’ve all done similar courses at IH (one of them has been coming for 6 years!) and more or less know what to expect. They’re used to getting up and moving around, working in pairs/groups, being able to speak at length at a moments notice, etc. From my experience, many students aren’t really prepared for this kind of classroom management and can be quite hostile to these approaches. My main challenge for after this course, but something I’ll need to think about at present, will be how I’m going to translate these techniques into different contexts. How does theory hold in the face of praxis?

Delta Course 2015

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So, I’ve arrived in beautiful Wroclaw, Poland to start my Delta course. Over the next 8 weeks I’ll be talking about my experiences here at IH Wroclaw, LSA’s, and a lot more. I’m looking forward to adding a few more tools in my teaching belt as well as working with some other candidates with much different experiences than mine. Also our course tutors Alex Tillbury and Anthony Guaghn are quite active in the ELT community.

I’ve decided that for the course, I want to focus on Phonology, Lexis, Writing, and Listening. I’ve chosen these because the systems and skills complement each other and, more importantly, they aren’t things I’ve really dealt with in my 8 years in the classroom. But I’ll be going into more detail as these lessons come up.

Watch this space for updates and insights into the Delta course.