CELTA Written Assignments – Focus on the Learner (FL)

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?

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Although every centre creates their own written assignments, the CELTA Syllabus and Assessment Guidelines states that for the FL assignment:

The design of the assignment to include: 

  • investigation of the learning context and assessment of learner needs with reference to a specific learner or group of learners
  • identification of sources for language and/or skills development and, where appropriate, personal support
  • suggestions for specific language and/or skill focused activities and an explanation/rationale for the use of these activities with the specific learners identified

Candidates can demonstrate their learning by:

  1. showing awareness of how a learner’s/learners’ background(s), previous learning experience and learning preferences affect learning
  2. identifying the learner’s/learners’ language and/or skills needs
  3. correctly using terminology relating to the description of language systems and/or language skills
  4. selecting appropriate material and/or resources to aid the learner’s/learners’ language and/or skills development
  5. providing a rationale for using specific activities with a learner/learners
  6. 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

Some useful books to help you get started:

Learner English: A Teacher’s Guide to Interference and other Problems (Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers)

This book looks at errors that speakers of different language make and why they make them. An example taken from the book is that in Spanish there are few consonant clusters. This means when Spanish speakers are speaking English they have difficulty in producing English clusters. As a result express might be produced as espres or breakfast as brefas. Another example, still thinking about Spanish speakers, is that in Spanish to form a negative there are no auxilliairies, so lower level speakers might say I no understand rather than I don’t understand.

Ideas for pronunciation activities:

Ideas for grammar activities:

Ideas for vocabulary activities:


Common Pitfalls

In our centre, trainees often fall foul of the following:

  • identifying errors that are pre-systematic (language that has not yet been taught) and therefore require a full lesson before it can be remedied rather than a remedial activity
  • provide activities that don’t remedy the error in question
  • provide activities that are too high/low for the level of the learner
  • forgetting to include a bibliography
  • forgetting to provide a rationale for the choice of activity
  • label errors incorrectly

In our centre, we encourage trainees to make a short recording of their student (with their permission of course) while having a short chat with them in the break or after class. This gives them plenty of material to analyse when tackling this assignment.

Have you already written your Focus on the Learner assignment? What tips would you add?



Author: Emma Jones

A CELTA Tutor based in Munich and co-author of The Ultimate Guide to CELTA

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