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Celta out-dated?
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
It has been said that we've moved from the communicative approach era (such a broad term) to a post-method era.


I'd agree with this, in general. There are so many potential tools in the kit today, and efficiency dictates that no blanket 'method/s' are ideal in all situations.

At entry (CELTA) levels, 'communicative' is a neat umbrella for the starter tools, but the wider world of ELT is far broader and more complex than this.

I still think that a CELTA or equivalent is the best place to get started - and the course has never billed itself (so far as I am aware) as more than a entry-level cert.
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fluffyhamster



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PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Certainly one of the best ways to keep improving one's teaching is to keep asking "Is this or that as communicative as it could be?". But it should go without saying that the CELTA doesn't have a monopoly on the word, even if the CELTA is what one completed and then beams "T'were grand! Two grand! Sooo well spent! Really! Happy Happy Joy Joy!". Laughing (I might allude to this "quote" in a bit, when I've perhaps written something for LSK's "Problems with the CELTA" thread Cool).
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 6:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vabeckele (from pg 1) wrote:
For me, and for many I know, it is the delivery of the course and the overload of information in such a short space of time.


Is it not ironic that of all courses of study teacher training programs are the intensive ones? In 2010, I started an 8 month B.Ed (for those with a prior degree). But next fall, it'll revert back to 2 years:
Quote:
Unions have said they support the move. Deans of Ontario’s faculties of education have long called for the extra training.

Almost a decade ago, Jane Gaskell, then dean at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, called teacher training “crammed” into the eight months in a university year, and noted that hairdressers get more training — 10 months.

“We can’t do it in eight months in a responsible way,” she told the Star in 2003.
http://www.obep.ca/pub/Ontario-to-increase-teacher-training-to-two-years.html


I don't know about Vabeckele (we might be doing the same CELTA in Vietnam), but if it weren't for prior teaching experience, I wouldn't take the intensive one. It's not my learning style, made all the more difficult by age and time since attending university. In what we're told about Cambridge's close scrutiny of CELTA course delivery, I wonder to what extent they (discretely) monitor grads, comparing those taking the intensive with the blended online iCELT (=CELTA?) to see if there's a difference in how it affects teaching quality.

As for the 'delivery' of the course, what I disliked about my B.Ed. was that in the months before the program, we were given only one reading task. We all complained about the volume of reading assigned and one prof openly admitted it was impossible. This is why I brought up the notion of the flipped classroom because we'd read for homework and discuss in class.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 7:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

fluffyhamster wrote:
Certainly one of the best ways to keep improving one's teaching is to keep asking "Is this or that as communicative as it could be?". But it should go without saying that the CELTA doesn't have a monopoly on the word, even if the CELTA is what one completed and then beams "T'were grand! Two grand! Sooo well spent! Really! Happy Happy Joy Joy!". Laughing (I might allude to this "quote" in a bit, when I've perhaps written something for LSK's "Problems with the CELTA" thread Cool).


Ah, Fluffy, you've lost me again, already. Allusions to mysterious quotations? Help a Vozhd out. Or share some of yer moohshine.
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Sashadroogie



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PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LongShiKong wrote:

Is it not ironic that of all courses of study teacher training programs are the intensive ones? In 2010, I started an 8 month B.Ed (for those with a prior degree). But next fall, it'll revert back to 2 years:
Quote:
Unions have said they support the move. Deans of Ontario’s faculties of education have long called for the extra training.

Almost a decade ago, Jane Gaskell, then dean at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, called teacher training “crammed” into the eight months in a university year, and noted that hairdressers get more training — 10 months.

“We can’t do it in eight months in a responsible way,” she told the Star in 2003.
http://www.obep.ca/pub/Ontario-to-increase-teacher-training-to-two-years.html


I don't know about Vabeckele (we might be doing the same CELTA in Vietnam), but if it weren't for prior teaching experience, I wouldn't take the intensive one. It's not my learning style, made all the more difficult by age and time since attending university. In what we're told about Cambridge's close scrutiny of CELTA course delivery, I wonder to what extent they (discretely) monitor grads, comparing those taking the intensive with the blended online iCELT (=CELTA?) to see if there's a difference in how it affects teaching quality.

As for the 'delivery' of the course, what I disliked about my B.Ed. was that in the months before the program, we were given only one reading task. We all complained about the volume of reading assigned and one prof openly admitted it was impossible. This is why I brought up the notion of the flipped classroom because we'd read for homework and discuss in class.


Celta and Icelt are not exactly the same thing, so not sure what correlation one would hope to find. The latter is an in-service course, which usually has a heavier emphasis on teen and YL classes, as well as being more popular with non-native speakers ( on account of its lower proficiency requirements).

How is 'discretely' being used here?

Seriously, if any posters here are truly planning on taking the Celta, in Vietnam or elsewhere, I'd strongly recommend not trying to second guess your trainers, or methodology employed by Cambridge. If you already 'know' how to teach, or know better than your trainers, then the decision to enroll on the course is questionable to say the least, and will almost certainly be counter-productive.
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 5:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@Sasha: I haven't had time to re-read all of the linked stuff and comments on the "Problems with the CELTA" thread(s), but plan to post something there sooner or later. Very briefly though here and now, I'll just say that critical postings, unavoidably of non-trivial length, cannot but give one a bit more to go on or work with than "short n sweet" feedback like (the following made-up but fairly representative and very unmysterious "quotation", geddit?) "My CELTA was fantastic, I learnt so much!" (from which one can only really assume that the latter trainee had thought, believed or knew little to nothing about language learning going in, and thus accepted anything and everything they were told pretty much without question).

I agree with you though that it would be counterproductive to enrol on a course like the CELTA unless one were prepared to keep an open mind (or if one prefers, stifle one's critical thinking) for the duration.

Me, I kept an open mind, but I resumed my own thinking and reading after the course, partly in reaction to the practices I'd witnessed but wasn't really sold on. So the course was of some value, even if that value was somewhat negative. People would obviously prefer however to pay for a wholly positive experience, which is why any critical feedback shouldn't be discounted too lightly. Or is (I)TT mainly or only for young fresh-faced inexperienced impressionable types who need little convincing?


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Sun Nov 10, 2013 5:15 pm; edited 1 time in total
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spiral78



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PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
"My CELTA was fantastic, I learnt so much!" (from which one can only really assume that the latter trainee had thought, believed or knew little to nothing about language learning going in, and thus accepted anything and everything they were told pretty much without question).


The feedback one receives on practice teaching is generally considered quite valuable, regardless of how much one might already know about language teaching/learning.


Quote:
. People would obviously prefer however to pay for a wholly positive experience, which is why any critical feedback shouldn't be discounted too lightly.


I've never heard from anyone who had a 'wholly positive experience' on a CELTA or equivalent course - almost everyone receives some 'critical feedback' ON the course - so critical feedback ABOUT the course isn't surprising. Rolling Eyes
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fluffyhamster



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PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@Spiral: I meant criticism of the CELTA. But no matter: Feedback to trainees has to be reasoned though, right? Not just "I am right and you are wrong", or words or signals to that effect. Now I am not saying that a month-long course can afford to get through too many pairs of kid gloves, nor do I think those with too many issues to discuss should enrol lightly, but some things may take more than just unquestioning faith for people to really take them fully on board.

Last edited by fluffyhamster on Sat Dec 14, 2013 10:51 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Shroob



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PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It should be said that the quality of the CELTA course will vary from institution to institution. I can quite honestly say I had excellent teacher trainers (overall) when I did my CELTA, very highly qualified and respected within the institution. My friends, however, had less than kind things to say about their trainers - falling asleep in observed lessons, losing students' work and other things which are just plain unprofessional, no matter the level of teacher.

Courses also vary in content. One of the main criticisms I have read about the CELTA on this board is that it takes the CLT method as the only way to teach. I clearly remember being introduced to the different methodologies and the pros and cons of each, the trends over time and the theory behind the practice. While it was expressed that trainees are expected to teach in the CLT way, at least we were aware of other ways and it was open to discussion.
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spiral78



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PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
@Spiral: Criticism has to be reasoned though, right? Not just "I am right and you are wrong", or words or signals to that effect
.

All CELTA and equivalent courses do not take this approach. As Shroob points out, there are some better and some worse - and even an otherwise good course can have a bad (or an excellent) day from time to time.

Blanket statements that CELTA and equivalent courses take 'this approach' to trainees is just inaccurate and misleading.
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Sashadroogie



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PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fluffy, your post was a reasoned and balanced contribution to a debate such as this. However, very few, if any, of the other posters on the linked thread had anything cogent to say. Nothing in fact apart from 'I didn't agree with what I was being told'.

I am not a blind advocate of Celta, or any methodology or course book. Everything comes with pros and cons. But one needs to at least be aware of what a book or a course is supposed to do in the first place, before laying into it. I am far from convinced any of the others have even an inkling of what they were supposed to be about. That is to say, based on their written complaints, few have any valid grounds for dissatisfaction.

And, I think the notion that is circulating here - that trainers simply lay down the law and demand trainees to do as instructed without any rationale to support methodological assumptions - is very misleading and damaging. Main principles are outlined, and justified. It is very reasoned. Unlike some of the attacking comments which are totally without foundation. A prime example being the title of this thread. Just what is outdated about Celta and similar courses? A question that has basically remained unanswered.

Anytime I read an 'outdated' comment, I now assume that the poster holds many untenable assumptions about language, the role of technology in ELT, the role of an ELT teacher, the purpose of teacher training. When I am unkinder, I assume that such a commentator was unable or unwilling to apply the course principles to his TPs, received a low mark, and then got cranky and sounded off. And was probably very self-satisfied in the knowledge that standards in his all-singing all-dancing monkey school are so low, that a Celta won't make any difference at all in any case...
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fluffyhamster



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PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 5:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@Shroob: The problems to me usually stemmed from or could be traced back to insufficient linguistic research (I mean not just me, but the trainers too). Stuff like the trainer clouding in their then PPP-y way any clear function for Present Perfect (see my recent allusion to a useful paper by Richards), or a few hours frantic trainee reading up on and then teaching a "masterclass" on tags or modals or conditionals or whatever being woefully inadequate for establishing good let alone "best" practice (as if the feedback could be as critical as it would need to be to straighten things out to that desirable extent! "Your lesson was clearly so-so, but hopefully you'll get better with experience. Let's just leave it at that?" LOL). The standard response to this point however is always "At least this training's a start" - "Yeah, and a very modest one at that!".

I can see now though that at the time the methodological (and to be fair technological) pendulum hadn't quite swung far enough back empiricism's way - and the main issue (as always?) wasn't so much the type of grammar (er, there might be more than one type!) but the amount the students really needed (my answer then as now would be, er maybe it's the teachers who need it most? And they don't need to explicitly teach what they research).
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fluffyhamster



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PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wasn't saying that the CELTA quite takes that very approach, Spiral. I'm sure the majority of trainers try to be as helpful and supportive as the set-up permits. I have yet to read that it takes enough of an opposite approach, however. But perhaps one day we'll read about some trainer offering a (likely more experienced) trainee some amazing, absolutely clinching explanation or analysis that stays with them for life, and if not during a cert then maybe on a dip or MA.
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fluffyhamster



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PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@Sahsa (and Spiral): Obviously the rationales, principles and assumptions AREN'T that clearly laid out, or it wouldn't take trainees weeks and weeks of trying to work out quite what the trainers most want to see (and one is often put on "Improve or fail" notice up until the very last week). Yes, it takes time to learn, practice, improve, and remember to actually use the various techniques one could use, but I would contest that trainees are given a clear enough idea of quite what it is they are meant to be putting into practice. "A lesson like the one you saw demonstrated the once" isn't clear enough, IMHO, especially when such demo lessons are hardly likely to be (allowed to be) critically deconstructed or explained that much. Even the grammar is left (as we all know) for the trainee to work out and stumble through largely alone, when that is one thing that could most definitely be relayed and tested quite formally.

Again, it is just a thought, but if the trainers worked or had to work that bit harder to absolutely justify their approaches then maybe they'd get 95% or more on board rather than just the 90% or whatever the figure might be.


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Sun Nov 10, 2013 6:21 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Sashadroogie



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PostPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fluffy, why should a Celta trainer be expected to give an 'amazing..clinching explanation or analysis that stays with them for life'? All the course aims to do is give a basic grounding in the main principles of ELT. It is all quite basic. Essential. Nothing mind-shattering. Just really basic stuff. All made blindingly obvious to even the dullest mind.

Which is why I scratch my head when I encounter the entrenched hostility, and even prejudice, from various sorts in classrooms or boards like this. There really is no valid argument against courses like Celta. Well, nothing except rantings akin to denying that the world is round.
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