Lessons from the DELTA teaching qualification course
Гостевой пост от коллеги, Hanna Yurk, о том, как курс DELTA повлиял на ее подход к преподаванию. Я не стала переводить текст. Подозреваю, о DELTA будет интересно почитать тем, кто уже на том уровне английского, где перевод не нужен. Не правда ли?))
Are you tossing up whether or not to take the DELTA (Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) one day? A lot of people have asked me if it’s really worth it, considering the huge financial commitment and the time and effort involved. I’ve always tried to be completely honest with them: it’s no stroll in the park. Say goodbye to your social life, and get ready to have a few more grey hairs at the end of it!
So is it worth it? Absolutely! If you are passionate about teaching and want to take your learning to the next level, consider how the DELTA can transform your teaching style and validate your teaching practice. I’ve taught both English lessons online and in the classroom to groups and individuals and I can say that everything I learned on the course applies no matter the teaching situation. Although I could write a whole book about this, I’m going to share with you four important lessons I learned from taking the DELTA and how they have shaped my teaching.
1. ‘The Aim’ is king
This one might seem obvious at first - of course we all have aims for our lessons, right? But on the DELTA course, much more so than on the CELTA, every stage and activity in your lesson needs to be justified in taking you that one step closer to meeting your aim, which you have to achieve within 60 minutes. Let’s compare it to, say, driving from your home to another city without knowing exactly where you’re going to park your car. There are many different streets and roads you could take, right? Whereas if you have the exact address, you’re going to drive on the road that gets you to your destination in the best and most efficient manner. What the DELTA teaches you to do is to identify and narrow down an aspect of a skill or system to focus on and how to best shape your lesson to reach its target. With this aims-focused approach, you can be confident that your learners are going to achieve what you’ve set for them!
2. Teach the Learners, not the Lesson Plan
Now I’m going to sound like a huge hypocrite by saying this, but the second major thing I learned from the DELTA is that, despite everything I’ve just said about reaching your aim, it is also really important to listen to your students during the lesson and respond to their emergent needs rather than just carry on with your lesson plan. Maybe a speaking activity that you’ve planned is supposed to last for just ten minutes but you’ve realised the students are having a lot of issues with a particular verb pattern as they are speaking. Do you just move on to the next stage of the target language and ignore it? No! Deal with the ‘emergent’ and often unpredictable needs of the students as they come up. This might involve a short feedback session focusing on the language point with some practise of using it and some review of it in the following lesson. After the DELTA and once you are really confident with doing this, you can plan your lessons where your ‘aim’ is to work on and exploit the emergent needs of the students during the lesson rather than focusing on specific target language.
3. Don’t just test skills - teach them!
How many of you recognise this style of listening lesson? After doing a lead-in and pre-teaching some vocabulary, play the listening and get the students to answer some questions about gist, detail or specific information. Go through the answers with them and play it again, maybe checking the tapescript as well. Didn’t get the answer right? Better luck next time! If this sounds typical of most English textbooks, you would be right. But let me ask you: is this approach to teaching listening helping the student listen better or is it just testing what they’ve understood? We need to give our students the strategies to cope with real-life listening situations by helping them to recognise contextual and verbal cues and utilise their background knowledge (called the ‘top down’ approach) as well as the skills to help them to decode complex sounds and connected speech (called the ‘bottom up’ approach). Teaching skills-based lessons on the DELTA will help you to develop your approach to teaching reading, writing, speaking and listening and your students will be grateful!
4. Experiment and Reflect
In my opinion, being a teacher means being a learner too. I thought that after finishing the DELTA I’d be thinking ‘Ok, that’s it! No more studying for me!” But on the contrary, I realised that a whole new world of learning had just been opened up to me. We often think that there’s one right or best methodology to teach English, but actually each has their own merits and it’s about finding out what works for you and your individual learners. During the DELTA you are encouraged to reflect on your weaknesses and try out a new methodology in the ‘experimental practice’ phase. But don’t stop there - every day is a chance to try something a little bit different. If you tried something new and it didn’t go so well, think about how you could improve it for next time. Don’t be afraid to ask your students for feedback on what worked for them during the lesson. You’ll soon find the inspiration for continued professional growth once you get positive feedback!
So whether you teach English classes via Skype, in a classroom, to kids or to adults, the DELTA can be a very enriching learning experience. And if you’re not quite ready to take that leap, I hope these four ideas have given you some food for thought. Whichever option you choose, teaching a language can be done in a variety of ways, but learning from seasoned professionals is always a good idea so you can acquire basic skills and notions that you can then modify to fit with your own teaching style.
This article was written by Hannah Yurk, a native English teacher at Break Into English, an online English academy specialized in 1 to 1 classes with a webcam.
Автор: Дарья Масловская