Written assignments form a major part of the CELTA assessment process and are a compulsory part of the course. There are 4 written assignments in total but some centres conflate two of them to make one larger assignment. In this series we will look at each individual assignment and provide you with some advice and guidance as well as highlight some of the common pitfalls.
Disclaimer: All centres create their own written assignment rubrics, make sure you check with your centre exactly what is required. We can only provide general information here, rather than specific. With this in mind, do you think it would be wise to pay for other peoples’ assignments to help you write your own?
Although every centre creates their own written assignments, the CELTA Syllabus and Assessment Guidelines states that for the LSRT assignment:
The design of the assignment is to include:
• evidence of the candidate’s background reading in the topic area
• identification of the receptive language skills and/or subskills that could be practised and developed using coursebook material or authentic text
• identification of productive language skills that could be practised and developed in relation to that text
• task design in relation to the text with brief rationale
Candidates can demonstrate their learning by:
a. correctly using terminology that relates to language skills and subskills
b. relating task design to language skills development
c. finding, selecting and referencing information from one or more sources using written language that is clear, accurate and appropriate to the task
All written assignments should be 750 – 1000 words
Source: CELTA Syllabus and Assessment Guidelines
What does this mean for you? Well firstly, of course, you need to make sure you do some background reading and find out more about why we provide students with practice in the reading/listening subskills, what these subskills are and how you can give the students practice using them. It would be very easy for me to tell you the answers in this post but that won’t help you in the long run. Instead I can suggest a couple of sources for you to have a look at:
- Learning Teaching by Jim Scrivener
- The CELTA Course by Cambridge University Press
- Teaching Reading Skills in a Foreign Language by Macmillan Education
- Listening Skills – Blog Post by TUGtoC
- Getting to Grips with Reading Skills – Blog Post by TUGtoC
If your centre’s assignment requires you to find your own material (reading or listening texts) make sure that it is something you can use for the level of learner you are aiming the lesson at. Whilst it is true that most material should be possible to use with all levels, the activities themselves must be aimed at the learners’ level.
Once you have found a text (if your centre hasn’t provided you with one) you will probably be asked to come up with suitable activities that will give the students practice in one or two of the reading/listening subskills. You can make sure that your activity really does practise the subskill you are suggesting by trialling the task yourself (ie if you want the students to scan for specific information, try it yourself and see if it is actually possible to find the answers by scanning!). Please also make it clear in your assignment that you will be giving the students the task to do while reading/listening – NEVER ask students to read or listen to something without giving them a task to do. If you give students something to read/listen to without a task then they will not be practising the listening/reading subskills, instead they will be listening/reading very carefully because they won’t have anything specific to focus on. I can’t tell you how frustrated we tutors get when trainees get this wrong 😦
After you have created your in-reading/in-listening part of the lesson you will be asked to suggest a follow-up activity that would have students practise either speaking or writing. After receptive skills practice students need to start being productive and as reading and listening is an individual task I would suggest a follow-up task should have more student interaction, this could be in written or spoken form but is more likely to be in spoken form as writing tends to be done alone. Whatever you decide to do, remember to exploit the context of the in-reading/listening tasks by, for example, remaining on the topic from the text. Remember, however, they should not be reading/listening to the text again for the post- activity.
One more thing you should make sure you do is write a bibliography, stating all the resources you have used to help you to write your assignment. Remember, CELTA requires you to prove you are capable of “finding, selecting and referencing information from one or more sources using written language that is clear, accurate and appropriate to the task” – (Source: CELTA Syllabus and Assessment Guidelines) so make sure you prove this by including your bibliography.
When you think you have completed your assignment, walk away from it for at least a couple of hours. Go back to it later with a fresh pair of eyes and check it against the rubric. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you done everything that you have been asked to do?
- How many words have your written?
- Is it clearly laid out and easy for someone else to read?
- Are there any spelling, punctuation, grammar errors?
- Are there any typos?
- Have I included a bibliography?
In our centre, trainees often fall foul of the following:
- using the subskills terminology incorrectly (ie saying something is a scanning task when it is a skimming task)
- providing a task that doesn’t practise the subskill they say it does
- not highlighting the fact that the in-reading/listening task they would give students should be done while reading/listening
- not submitting a complete assignment
- writing much more than is required and going way over the word-count
- not proof-reading their work before handing it in
- not including a bibliography
Any one of the above can result in having to resubmit the assignment. Whilst having to resubmit is no bad thing, it does increase your workload and stress levels so should be avoided if possible.