The ABC of ELT

DELTA Diary week 2

Another week down and another week closer to completing the DELTA. I’m sure I’ll soon regret doing the DELTA the long way when it feels like I’ve been studying for months and still have months to go but at the same time I’m sure I’ll appreciate the extra time to absorb the information and reflect on it via my diary.

I applied one of my lessons from last week and I did a proper review of all the work I had to do in the coming week. I skimmed the tasks and the length of the content to get a better idea of how much I needed to read and work through and decided to try to get more done on Monday morning so that it would free up the weekend a bit more, allow me to be more involved in the forum and make better use of the time/DELTA

It didn’t quite work out that way 🙁

Fairly early on I had to add some big tasks for the week including trying to sort out some wonderful issues with Her Majesties Revenue and Customs in the UK caused by letters that went missing.

Still I managed to be more proactive this week and felt a lot more relaxed than last Friday when I had to rush through my work. No doubt this was aided by being more appreciative of the cool things that had happened during the week, writing a bit less and using my time better.

Anyway, this week involved

  • looking at different theories about teaching languages,
  • how people learn languages
  • what helps a learner to learn a language
  • as well as focusing on Paper 1 tasks 1 and 2 and Paper 2 tasks 2 (parts a and b) and 3.

The tasks in Paper 1 look at terminology (both writing definitions for the term and writing the term for the definition)

The tasks for Paper 2 looks at a course book and asks you to think about why the writer has written these activities. What is their purpose, what are the learning and teaching principles they have based their material around etc.

As I was looking through the History of ELT section and looking at different methodologies that have arisen over time (including learning more about the Direct approach, The listening approach and a couple of other approaches)

How often are functional/notional syllabi just covers for Grammar Syllabi?

One of the things that struck me and made me wonder a bit was about Syllabi. I’ve heard people talk about focusing on the function rather than the grammar or vocab item for a long time but have you ever felt that in course books it’s often just a guise for the grammar item? Maybe I’m being too cynical or maybe it shows more that I look at the grammar item ahead of the function or notion but sometimes I feel that the Can do statements are just there as a cover or excuse for the grammar syllabus they really want to use.

Am I really teaching Communicative approach?

Another scary thought was about how much my “communicative language learning” lessons could easily actually be closer to “direct method lesson” All it takes is a stronger focus on the Language item rather than the vocab, teaching grammar without a clear context (though not explicitly teaching grammar) and non realistic tasks (“is this a pen or a spaceship?”) and it makes me wonder how “communicative” my approach is?

(I’m probably over reacting a bit here and certainly I’ve learnt a few things about learning vocab that seem to suggest a completely “teach only through context/topic” approach may not be best for all vocab and that other groupings can be good too.)

Well he said it so it must be true

Something that surprised me during my reading of the focus on Function section was when reviewing the debate between a strong focus on form and language and a more communicative and undercover implicit approach was that the main argument for a balanced approach was one study by one Teacher based in Brazil who used both and learnt Portuguese really well…That’s not scientific evidence it’s anecdotal  Now this might be part of a larger study or body of evidence but I was a bit surprised that this was put forward as the main evidence.

Learner styles

Speaking of interesting evidence, in the “focus on the learner” section there was a large amount of attention to learning styles and multiple intelligences Evidence Based EFL’s great post (originally in a journal) puts the “strong form” seriously in the doc and asks real questions about its use.
It did seem to be a very prominent part of the section and so makes me feel that I’ll have to discuss it during the exam if I want to get full marks. For tasks such as Paper 2 tasks 2 and 3 it makes a lot of sense to be aware that this is something the writer may well be thinking about and it has been influential in ELT for sure, but there wasn’t much criticism of this idea included at all.

(Since writing this up I had further contact with my tutor and it appears that in this module it is important to be aware of the influential theories in teaching rather than necessaries Evaluate them.)

Exam Practice

The final task of the week was the exam tasks for the week. I decided that my approach would be to set a timer on my phone and try to do each task under timed conditions to get some exam practice. The good news was that I completed EVERY task within the time frame. A great sign for the exam.
Not such good signs are that this was typing (my typing speed is quicker than my handwriting speed) and I wasn’t perfect with my terminology or answers.
After I had done the timed answers I checked up on the terminology to make sure I had answered correctly and to improve the answers that I submitted.

I think I will take this approach for the rest of my exam practice tasks but with a minor change. Handwrite them under timed conditions (a chance to build up my handwriting again and get used to writing exams), Check my answers and then write them in a word doc with improvements. That way I should learn as I go, improve and practice for the exam.

Realisation of holiday and timetable

The only last issue is that this week I am travelling back to England on Friday, the main day I do DELTA work. This will put my usual timings out a bit and I’ll have to be ahead of schedule for the week. Not too much to worry about but good to realise before the week began, I actually thought this units deadline was another week later, but that’s actually the next unit. So for week three it’s going to be late nights, travelling and testing how user friendly the site is with my mobile phone :S

See you next week.

About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

One Reply

  1. It seems not only me who confused about those methodologies:D

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