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MFL teachers with a background in TEFL

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by 19sunflower, Aug 30, 2016.

  1. 19sunflower

    19sunflower New commenter


    Are there any MFL teachers out there who have a background in Teaching English as a Foreign Language? How did you find the CELTA course and in what way does your TEFL benefit you in MFL teaching?

    I´m looking into doing the CELTA, I´m just not sure where yet.
  2. balvert

    balvert New commenter

    Not sure this is what you're asking for but I'm from a TEFL background and going into MFL teaching through School Direct.

    I did the CELTA so can give you some advice on that if you like?
  3. gmo16

    gmo16 New commenter

    I'm head of MFL but did a CELTA course too a few years ago, before getting my post.
    I found it brilliant, hugely useful and have since gone to conferences urging teachers of any subject to take it! I produced some documents about TEFL techniques in mainstream classes. It's especially relevant in schools with high proportion of EAL. Happy to tell more.
    balvert likes this.
  4. 19sunflower

    19sunflower New commenter

    Thanks for your replies. How did you find the course? I´m worried about the intensity of it, as most places run it over four weeks and it will be a lot to take in. On the other hand, maintaining the motivation and combining work with a part time course might be more difficult.

    I know there are six observed teaching hours in total. How were they broken down for you? Were they 6 slots of one hour or half hour slots?
    How much help were you given with planning and were you able to adapt published resources or did you have to make everything from scratch?

    With resgards to the written assignments, approximately how long are they expected to be?

    Which reference book did you find most useful on the course?

    Thanks for your help.
  5. balvert

    balvert New commenter

    If you're already an experienced teacher I don't think you'll find four weeks of CELTA any more intense than four weeks at school :)

    In terms of teaching hours, we were in front of students on the first day. Assessed teaching started on the second day. We spent mornings planning and having input sessions/lectures, then afternoons teaching and observing. We did teaching in a succession of 3x 20, 3 x 40 and 3 x 60 minute lessons. 20 mins in week one and then 60 minute lessons by week four.

    Planning support was ... interesting. The approach they attempted on my course was 'hands on' in week one through to 'hands off' by week four, with support gradually being removed as the course progressed. In reality, however, some people ended up getting much more support towards the end of the course than they did in the first weeks. It certainly wasn't a level playing field.

    Written assignments were straightforward and quite enjoyable. They were only around 1000 words (can't remember exactly but it was in that region) and word limits were very strict. We were given paragraph by paragraph word limits and had to stick to them. You are only given a straight pass/fail on the assignments, which is disappointing if you've put in a lot of work.

    Beware, though, as I found the final two weeks of the course confusing and very demotivating. This was mainly down to the assessment being almost completely based on your progress from the beginning of the course to the end. You're probably thinking 'well ... duh!', but stick with me. There are various criteria similar to the Teaching Standards but these are introduced gradually as the course progresses. So, in week one you are only expected to demonstrate certain things and by week four you are expected to do all of them. If, like me you demonstrate the week four criteria in week one then you might find that you end up with no means of further progression which is reflected in the feedback you receive and how you are assessed. In my case I started strongly and was hitting most of the criteria from the outset, but by the end of the course my final grade was significantly lower than some of the others in my cohort because I showed little actual progress overall. In the first weeks I was receiving fantastic feedback and 'above standard' assessments, but by the final week I was being ripped to shreds by the observers and just scraping by with 'to standards', even though I was still meeting the criteria. It felt like quite an unfair system for those who are good from the outset. There were much weaker candidates who came out with better final marks than me because they demonstrated more development over the course of the four weeks. I started and finished strongly, but this wasn't taken into account because the focus was so heavily placed on progress from 'nothing' to 'something'. Whether this was just my training provider or is a standardised thing I'm not sure but I didn't like it at all.

    Which leads me to a question for you. Do you really need the CELTA? If you are a qualified and experienced teacher then you can already teach and as an MFL specialist most TEFL schools would bite your arm off to give you a job (a lot of them offer other languages as well and you'd be an asset to them). In terms of what I actually learnt on the course, most of the techniques and input we received were about general language learning, with some focus on English but not exclusively so. I'd imagine that you're already well up to speed on these areas through teaching MFL. Similarly, in terms of practical teaching, I imagine you've already got that covered. The CELTA has a hefty price tag (my course was £1,300 for the four weeks) and I still question whether it was worth it. There are probably shorter and cheaper TEFL/EAL training options more suitable to someone who is already a qualified and experienced teacher.
    pascuam49 likes this.
  6. Godmeister

    Godmeister Occasional commenter

    That part about progress sounds outrageous to me! I don't understand how you can be marked down throughout the CELTA course if you were meeting Week 4 standards immediately - you should have been "above standard" all the way through then! Ridiculous!!

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