CELTA Week Four (better late than never!)

So, it is now over 10 days since I finished my wonderful CELTA course and I have finally managed to finish my post about the fourth and final week of the course! As I have a chronic habit of starting scrapbooks/diaries/blogs and not quite finishing them, I was determined to at least have the closure of publishing this post!

Lots of lovely people in English Language teaching land told me that they didn’t think I would be able to do any tweeting, let alone any blogging during the course, so I am really pleased that I somehow managed to squeeze in enough time to document what turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done. I am also very happy to report that I somehow have been awarded a Pass A grade, so I feel I owe it to my course to finish documenting its awesomeness 🙂

This post, like the three before it,  is basically just one outrageously long diary entry, but I have been working on some much shorter posts to summarise my feelings about the course generally, which I will link to here once they are finished. In fact, as I look now at my little writing box on WordPress, I can see that I am nearly at 7,000 words for this post, which is almost three times longer than the longest university essay I ever wrote! So I can only apologise for my terrible verbal diarrhoea problem in all of my four CELTA posts, and just hope that they are interesting at least to my boyfriend and parents, and perhaps helpful to one or two CELTA trainers intrigued as to how the course is run in other establishments!

As ever, all comments are welcome 🙂

CELTA Week Four

Day Sixteen: Monday 5th May

The One Where I Had To Teach a Spontaneous Second Lesson

The weekend had been a gorgeously sunny Berlin weekend: I managed a lovely run all around the government district and down to Museum Island on Saturday morning, and then worked my socks off to be able to spend the afternoon with Teresa, a lovely girl from Munich who I shared a flat with in Bilbao!

Pirate beach bar near Oberbaumbruecke

Pirate beach bar near Oberbaumbruecke

We had drinks in a beach bar alongside the River Spree in Kreuzberg with her boyfriend and generally enjoyed the sun. Then I worked all evening to atone for my leisure time! On Sunday I did largely the same: a run, some work and a lovely afternoon in Prenzlauer Berg with Sabrina and Alex eating Germknödel (dumplings) and ice cream from my absolute favourite place, Hokey Pokey.

Dumpling deliciousness :)

Dumpling deliciousness 🙂

The lovely weather continued into Monday, which was a muggy, muggy start to the week. By the time I got to school, I had taken off my coat and my cardigan and needed to cool down on the school balcony outside!

I printed out the many bits of paper I needed for my lesson in the afternoon and then our first input session of the day was about teaching total beginners. I had totally forgotten that, on the CELTA, this normally involves one of the trainers teaching us a language with which we are unfamiliar. We came in to see lots of glasses and drink-related paraphernalia on a table near the board and then I remembered what was going on!

Helen came in and said ‘morning’ to us in English, and then checked that none of us spoke Polish – Ingrid came the closest with Romanian, but as that language has a Latinate base, none of us knew anything similar to Polish so she went ahead and started to teach us an absolute beginners’ Polish lesson. She had told us that she was going to teach us for about forty minutes, but what I wasn’t prepared for was just how fast those forty minutes would fly by!

She started by teaching us ‘good day’ and ‘good evening’ by drawing a sun and a moon on the board and making us repeat them a lot. Then she moved across to the table and started teaching us the words for ‘beer,’ ‘orange juice,’ ‘mineral water’ and the all-important ‘vodka!’ She still hadn’t written anything on the board by this point except the sun and the moon, and was just teaching us by choral drilling and individual drilling, correcting when pronunciation was so bad that a Polish person wouldn’t have understood (so she told us later in English, anyway.)

Once she was satisfied we had grasped the basic nouns for those drinks, she introduced some phrases for what we were able to guess was ‘I would like a…’, ‘Thank you’ and ‘You’re welcome.’ We could discern this from the way she was gesturing using the beer bottles and glasses that she had brought with her, her intonation and her encouraging body language and gestures. It was such an unfamiliar feeling, being an absolute beginner and being utterly dependent on the teacher. Helen had banned us from writing anything down, which I initially hated, but then the strangest thing happened – she wrote the dialogue for ordering a drink up on the board and my pronunciation (and everyone else’s) went to pot! It was very bizarre for me, as I had always considered myself the kind of learner who needs to write things down, but moving from depending entirely on Helen and her repeating the words and phrases out loud to reading crazy (to me) Polish letters threw my pronunciation off completely!

We were allowed to practice the dialogue in pairs or threes for a bit using the board, and then Helen cruelly covered it up so we had to go it alone – then it got really tricky! But it was amazing how much we could retain, actually. We went over the dialogue once more altogether, and then Helen finally came out of Polish immersion mode and explained to us some of the oddities of the Polish script to us on the board – in English, of course!

We then discussed how we had felt during her lesson (scared, helpless on some occasions!) and reflected on what this means for any future absolute or false beginners we teach. It was a very interesting input session indeed; one of my favourite, I think! Helen is a fantastic teacher and I can only hope to absorb some of her talent by passive osmosis – although in my case, rather her English-teaching talents and not Polish ones!

After the break we had an input session on testing with Eoghan. We discussed the good and bad points of testing, using a fake example for the ‘Nasty School of English’ to think of the absolute worst ways to test your students! Then we focused a bit more on the good ways to test students in an ELT context, before going off in groups or pairs to do a little Google exercise on specific ELT exams. I was with Matt and we had to report back to the class on the Cambridge First Certificate in English exams. We then all brought our ideas together on the board and learnt about lots of different exams. If I ever have to teach an exam class, I definitely need to study the exams a lot better!

Over lunch I stressed about my lesson and ran through it a few times sat outside in the sunshine. We were doing 40 minute lessons again, so it wasn’t so scary. Three o’clock came, and Allegra taught her tough grammar lesson on reported speech. Students seemed a little confused, but Allegra did a really good job of clarifying their questions.

Then it was my turn, and I was almost looking forward to my lesson because it featured Durham very heavily 🙂 My only real aim was for students to write a piece for a website, promoting Berlin, so I started by introducing Durham with some pictures and asking if they’d like to go there – I got a great reaction when I dropped the Harry Potter fact during feedback! Then we talked about the good bits of Berlin using a questionnaire, and then returned to talking about Durham by way of a text from the tourist website (heavily edited to match the students’ level). I had prepared some comprehension questions, and the students seemed to really enjoy the text – I was pleasantly surprised! My mission for the 40 minutes was to bring them up to the point of writing, and then they were allowed a break and Eoghan would stop assessing me. He left the room and they all went to get coffee, and then I was left totally on my own to teach the second lesson (which would otherwise have been taught by Jim.) Earlier in the day, I had been a bit annoyed at being left to teach a second lesson on my own, but I saw it as good experience and it wasn’t so nerve-wracking with a C1 class as it would have been with a lower class! They did their writing for about 15 minutes, and then we talked about it a bit. Then we played Just A Minute, which they loved, and at the end of the lesson, we just ended up having a casual chat, which the students seemed to really enjoy. I was pleased I’d survived the spontaneous lesson so well, and toddled home to munch some salad, do my self-evaluation and read over my Focus on the learner assignment one more time before submitting it for the Tuesday morning deadline.
Day Seventeen: Tuesday 5th May

The One Where We Predicted the Future

On Tuesday morning I walked to school on my own, rocking away to my audio book. Our first input session of the day was a very useful one indeed: selecting published material for a specific group of learners. We began by going through some positives and negatives of course books, and I restrained my inner publishing nerd! Then Eoghan had created six fictitious scenarios of learners of English, and we went off into pairs to choose which textbook we’d like from two or three different textbooks.

Berlin School of English mugs

Berlin School of English mugs

Eoghan had done the hard part, to be fair, narrowing down each group to only a few textbooks when the Resource Room contains loads at each level. I was with Ricky, who was by far the most experienced teacher in our group (he has been teaching English in Germany for over 15 years!) He does, however, shun coursebooks so he found this quite hard. Our context was B1 learners somewhere in Germany wanting to improve their presentation skills, emailing skills and wanting to learn that well-known German concept of ‘smalltalk.’ We were given two Business English textbooks, and we plumped for Market Leader, which is one of Oxford University Press’ biggest selling Business English coursebooks. We had to justify why we had chosen it and then present it to the class in two different groups – it was very interesting, actually, seeing what others had come up with – part of me wishes I’d chosen a beginners’ class because that’s something we’ve not done much of on the CELTA, but hopefully I’ll get that chance at some point soon.

After the break, we had a session with Helen on professional development, where I sat feeling a teeny tiny bit smug for already having signed up to professional teachers’ associations in Berlin like ELTABB and the Language Workers’ GAS here. Helen gave us tonnes of valuable information, about books we can read in the future to improve our knowledge in particular areas, and good websites to refer to. We then had to use this information to write the second half of our Lessons from the classroom assignment, in which we have to predict the future and state the kind of things we’d like to use our CELTA qualification for. I think I went a bit too far with mine, because I got all excited and wrote that I wanted to do the DELTA and all sorts, but we’ll see… I also had to take this photo, because it was so funny  that everyone just automatically pulled out their laptops and started typing their assignment! We looked so antisocial! But it gives you a good idea of our classroom arrangement and the awesome people in my class 🙂

Writing our assignments in class

Writing our assignments in class and being horrendously antisocial

I stayed through lunch and fiddled with my Lesson Plan for Wednesday, and then Allegra and I did feedback. We went through some of the areas that caused confusion in Allegra’s lesson and then discussed the fact that I had noticed during the lesson myself: that I had done the activities in the wrong order! Eoghan really liked all the resources I’d made myself, but we agreed I probably should have switched around the order a bit, so I got At The Standard for that lesson.

This week is a little bit different in terms of Teaching Practice, as we’re not obliged to watch each other’s lessons. Instead, we are allowed more time to prepare for our eighth and final hour-long Teaching Practice, which is exactly what I did after feedback. I headed home and got on with my lesson plan, which was great because it meant I was pretty much finished by dinner time, and was able to just fiddle after my dinner break. I talked it through with Alex and Ingrid and was once again so grateful for living in the school flat for that opportunity to bounce ideas off each other, as the point of CELTA is that it’s a developmental course, so the guidance decreases week-by-week. On the Week Four review reports we get, the tutors have to state how much help we’ve received, so I was determined to do it all by myself!

I crashed out in bed far too late, but I thought: one more day, and then I can sleep properly!

Day Eighteen: Wednesday 6th May

The One Where I Got Observed By A Cambridge Assessor

When Eoghan said good morning to us in his wonderfully jolly way, he commented that it was Day Seventeen of the course. Someone then corrected him, to say it was actually day Eighteen and in doing so I decided that the day was going to be lucky for me, whatever happened, as 18 is my lucky number!

We had started input at the slightly later time of 10am, to give Jonathan Marks, our Cambridge assessor, enough time to look through all our CELTA folders. I had been in school since 8.30, printing and copying more trees for my lesson that afternoon, and all the while praying that he didn’t want to come and see my lesson (highly likely given only 4 / 12 of us were teaching on Wednesday!)

Our input session returned to our simulation of working out a short syllabus for a fictitious class. Ricky and I had to use Market Leader, the textbook we had chosen, to work out which elements to put into our eight-week course for our fake learners. It was really fun, actually, working out which bits of the textbook to keep and which to leave out. We also

Me and Ricky on Friday evening :)

Me and Ricky on Friday evening 🙂

supplemented some ideas with ‘real world texts,’ such as videos we found on YouTube or articles we found on the BBC. We then got into a smaller group with Rory and Ingrid, who had been using a different textbook, but still designing a course for the same (fake) group of learners. It was very interesting indeed to hear their brilliant idea, of simulating an ongoing product launch, with each weekly lesson being used to focus on a different aspect of the final presentation. It was a brilliant idea, but would of course be very dependent upon attendance!

At the end of that input session, Eoghan announced the two people that Jonathan had chosen to observe: first, Tessa in the other group, and then muggins here! Everyone reassured me that it was because we were on the verge of the higher grades, but I couldn’t help but feel instantly terrified! Jonathan then came in to ask us some general questions about how we’ve found the course, and I was reassured because he’s actually really nice. We all waxed lyrical about how genuinely brilliant we had found the course, and he imparted a wonderful bit of wisdom on us as his parting words (more or less verbatim!):

‘This CELTA course has provided you with a wonderful community; the ability to discuss any element of any lesson and to bounce ideas off each other. In the real world, you don’t have two days to plan one forty-minute lesson, and you don’t have two incredibly experienced teachers to tell you what’s good and what’s bad about the way you teach. The best you can do is to try and find a language school with a similar sense of community; one where people actually matter to the management. That’s my only piece of advice to you in this world of ELT.’

I shall carry this little gem through my ELT career with me, however long or short that career  may be!

Then we had the long stretch of lunch left to panic, so I went for a walk outside to rehearse my lesson once I’d handed the plan in, which calmed me down a lot.

Allegra taught her lesson at 3 without the assessor in our classroom, as he was first watching Tessa teach. After some extra clarification from Eoghan on Tuesday, she absolutely killed direct speech this time, and did such a great job of answering the students’ questions. Eoghan was nodding away encouragingly in the background, but I don’t think she even noticed, so far was she into the zone!

In the break between lessons, Jonathan Marks our lovely assessor came into our room and sat himself and his laptop at Eoghan’s usual table. I prepared my board, with my line on the left-hand side for new vocabulary. As the students arrived, I engaged them in chit-chat to relax myself because the mere presence of an assessor was making me nervous! It got to 4.10pm and I started my lesson by asking my students to do a little quiz about the Amish people. When I initially got my Teaching Practice points, I thought I’d drawn the short straw getting a speaking and reading lesson about the Amish, but the more I prepared the lesson, the more interesting I had found the topic, so I was desperately hoping the students felt the same!

Thankfully, at least one student in every pair had heard of the Amish people, so we had a nice little opening discussion about it, and then I stuck up some pictures on the board to further provoke some interesting comments. Then we worked our way through the reading tasks, and I was actually really pleased by how fascinated the students seemed in the topic! The reading texts were about a programme called Amish in the city, which aired back in 2005 on MTV I think, whereby 6 Amish people go to LA as part of their ‘Rumspringa’ coming-of-age period. The students had loads to say about each exercise and there was lots of talk in the freer discussion phases. However, the clock said about 4.55 when I was nearing the end of my last activity about the text (and my lesson would finish at 5.10) so I started to write up the vocab exercise from the textbook page, which I had always had a bad feeling about because it was so random! However, the students kept talking so I decided spontaneously to not do that exercise, and then wrote up the rules for Just a minute again, thinking I could conclude my lesson along the lines of ‘this will be my last lesson teaching you so let’s do something fun.’ But, as it happened, the last free discussion exercise prompted so much discussion that I decided to just create a few more questions off the top of my head and keep the students talking. At the end, they were asking me what I thought, and I was able to tell them about my research watching (probably too many!) YouTube video extracts from the series.

After my lesson, the assessor ceased his typing and came to look at my photos of Amish people and have a brief chat with me, which I thought was nice of him. I was quite gutted by how badly my lesson had gone, at the time, but was thankfully told otherwise the next day! I was disappointed with myself for focusing solely on the text, because I felt like it hadn’t been very varied or exciting like some of my other TPs had been, so I stayed at school to finish my self evaluation as a punishment. Eoghan came back into the classroom after my lesson had finished to see what I was doing, and I could tell he was about to come over and say something kind to me about my lesson, but I just focused on my laptop because I think I was so overcome with emotion that I would have cried, had he said something nice: I was exhausted from sleep deprivation, relieved my lesson was over, sad that my last TP was over, and overwhelmed that the CELTA was nearly over! It was a very exhausting combination of emotions, but I knew the walk home would be good for me once I had finished my self-evaluation, so I made myself walk home and enjoyed a huge bowl of filled pasta and my favourite stracciacella yoghurt for dinner.

I had planned to take some things to my new flat on Wednesday evening so that I wouldn’t have quite such a heavy bag to move by myself on Saturday morning, when I was aware I might be delicate of mind (!), so Alex (flatmate) kindly lent me her rolling suitcase and I took some things across to my new flat in Berlin’s northeastern district Weißensee. It was mainly books to ease the weight, but because of building works, it was an absolutely epic journey! I saw my flatmate Melissa briefly and had a nice chat with her, and then headed home.

I had a very bizarre moment on the tram on the way home, though, in the form of bumping into a guy who I had encountered online when researching ELT and Berlin and various CELTA-related things. I knew he was an English teacher here in Berlin, and I’d emailed him the previous day to let him know his website was down when I clicked on it from my Favourites by accident. I was sure it was him from his profile photo, but it was one of those very awkward moments when I wasn’t sure whether to acknowledge that I knew him from the internet or just sit there next to him and pretend nothing was wrong! But I thought, hey, you only live once, so I went and said hello, and thankfully he recognised me too once I introduced myself and we got into a lovely conversation the whole way home about ELT and wonderful Berlin!

My new flat :)

My new flat 🙂

As the world would have it, he’s from just down the road from me in England (Guildford) and was very familiar with my school, having trained in a hockey team there during his childhood! Small world! Our tram stopped at Hackesher Markt due to building work, so we walked back to Oranienburger Tor together, where he got on the U-Bahn and I crashed out in bed. He kindly gave me some ELT contacts on the way, and it was really nice to meet my first ‘online ELT friend’ in real life! It was certainly a nice end to quite a stressful day!

Day Nineteen: Thursday 7th May

The One Where I Think I Got Offered My First ELT Interview…!

I walked to school for what ended up being the last time on Thursday (this is being written in retrospect because I got behind!)

Our first input session was on working in Germany and was given by John Wills, one of the Managers of the Berlin School of English. I’d seen him briefly in the office when sorting out keys and deposits for the flat, but he seemed like a really stand-up sort of guy. He has years of experience with ELT in Germany, having essentially risen up the ranks from being a freelance English teacher himself to being the Manager of Berlin’s biggest and best-known language school. As such, he knows a tonne about ELT and an awful lot about working in Germany, so the 90 minutes that we had him for were absolutely invaluable for those of us planning to stay in this fair country. He didn’t have any sort of presentation; rather, he just let us ask him questions and that somehow took over 90 minutes!

We quizzed him about the delights of German bureaucracy, such as health insurance and tax numbers; we asked him about average wages in Germany and I asked him about ELT interviews, which is ironic given what then later happened…! All in all, it was an incredibly useful session and reinforced my belief that I did the right thing in taking the CELTA in the place where I want to work: such a session in Oxford or London would have been half as helpful to me when I would only have then gone and hopped over to Berlin anyway!

After a break, we had a session with Eoghan on teaching Business English. He opened his lesson by eliciting our thoughts on teaching Business English and, on the whole, we were all a little apprehensive about it. However, as Eoghan talked more about Business English, he got us to appreciate that it isn’t as scary as it sounds. Rather, that it’s general English with a greater emphasis on ‘functions’, or processes – that is, writing emails, practising phone calls, giving presentations etc. The amount of business-specific vocabulary will obviously vary greatly from one job to the text, but that’s where he taught us about needs analysis – or rather, the process you have to go through upon taking on a new Business English course to establish exactly what they need and want. For example, does your class want to be able to have phone calls fluently in English, or do they simply need to be able to hold some smalltalk with American colleagues once in a while. It was a very interesting insight into the world of Business English teaching, which is apparently the majority of work in Berlin since so many Germans learnt decent English in school.

Eoghan rounded off his (*sob*) penultimate input session with us by showing us some business textbooks that he likes (including some ‘classics’!) and then we had some time to rifle through them and, in mine and Rory’s case, take pictures on our phones of the ones we liked the look of the most upon flicking through them.

At the start of lunch, Eoghan came to collect the books because they belong to the main staff room from the school, which is up on the fifth floor, so I offered to help him take them back. The building plays host to the world’s slowest lift, so we walked the three flights of stairs together and chatted idly about how sad I was that the course was nearly over! Eoghan then turned to me and said ‘but you will be applying to work here, won’t you Rachel?’ and I came over all flustered and flattered in an instant. It was funny really, since when John had left the room earlier that morning and left us to entertain ourselves until Eoghan was ready for our subsequent input session, we all immediately started talking about whether it would be appropriate to apply to the school or not. It had sort of been the question I had been subtly asking John when I asked what he looks for in a covering letter and CV, but it was never expressly said! I told Eoghan this, and he laughed, and then I replied that I would love to apply, if he was sure it was OK. I was told it was ‘more than OK’ so I skipped back downstairs in total joy that I was allowed to apply for a job as a freelancer at such a brilliant language school.

My official CELTA folder that goes to Cambridge

My official CELTA folder that goes to Cambridge

I had to contain my excitement in front of everyone else, and just faffed about doing some final bits of scanning over lunch. We had feedback just after 1, starting with Allegra’s ace second lesson on reported speech. Eoghan seemed delighted with how much better she’d done in comparison to Monday’s lesson, and I’m not surprised because it was such a marked difference – it was a classic lesson in how invaluable a bit of preparation is, because she had been able to answer all of the students questions, and then some this time! Eoghan gave her a very well-deserved Above Standard and she was delighted!

We then had to wait a little bit for Jonathan, our assessor, as he had been watching Tessa’s feedback first because she taught in the first slot on the previous day. Then he came to join the three of us and Eoghan let me rant on for a while about how, although I was initially a bit disappointed by my lesson, in hindsight I was pleased at how much the students seemed to enjoy it. I made the decision to chop out the extra random vocab activity, which both Eoghan and then later Jonathan thankfully agreed with. Eoghan told me I had struck the perfect balance with the students and that they were clearly incredibly engaged, as they were asking me questions about my opinions on the random topic that was the Amish! I got brownie points for having been a loser on YouTube and spent too much time researching the programme, because it did mean that I could tell them a lot more than the textbook could. All in all, Eoghan was overwhelmingly positive and I was chuffed. Jonathan then asked if he could add something at the end, once Allegra had also given her evaluation of my Amish lesson, and told us that sometimes course book writers and publishers get it wrong. They are always very experienced, but sometimes there’s just a white space and nothing to go in it, so they just add a random activity which doesn’t fit with anything – and it takes experience and guts to know when to spot and therefore ignore such anomalies. So I got credit for that, and was elated to receive my fourth and final Above Standard of the course. Allegra and I positively skipped out of our last feedback session, and both said we were going to home to nap in a huge crash of endorphins!

I rewarded myself with an ice cream on the way home, and then instead of going to sleep, I wrote my letter of application and fiddled with my CV for the job Eoghan mentioned at school. I tweaked it for ages, and was eventually happy with it.

Ingrid and Alex came home around 6 after staying at school to watch lessons and teach, respectively. I only had time to catch up with Alex very briefly, though, because then I headed out to my first ever ELTABB event. ELTABB = English Language Teachers’ Association of Berlin and Brandenburg and in my obsessive research about teaching English in Berlin in advance of coming here, I read a lot about the organisation and was already determined to join and get involved. I was probably far too tired to go along to this event, but it was happening in the Information Centre for Cornelsen, a huge German educational publisher where I very nearly ended up working straight after Durham, so I couldn’t resist a peek. I also thought it would be a great chance to meet some nice people doing the same as me in this huge city.

I won’t say too much about the event itself, aside from the fact that it was called ‘The Pedagogy of Presence’ and was presented by a lovely Scot called Nicola Meldrum, who is based at Oxford TEFL in Barcelona. I am not going to write much here about it because a) my post about Week Four is already enormous and b) I took notes, and would like to try and arrange them into a coherent blog post at some point, so I will link to it when I do. But in the meantime, the key points from Nicola’s own presentation blurb on the ELTABB website were:

  • thinking more deliberately about how learning happens
  • reconsidering our role; am I here to explain, to entertain, to motivate, to inspire?
  • checking more effectively on learning
  • letting go of our schedule more

I met some lovely people, got involved in some really interesting discussions and somehow even ended up being given lots of leftover crisps and bread nibbles, despite my protestations that I was moving the following day! I gave some to the tramps under Friedrichstraße station and packed the rest into little Tupperware boxes for Alex and Ingrid to get us through our last day of the course. I was absolutely knackered afterwards, but I will definitely be joining as a member and look forward to the next event!

Day Twenty: Friday 8th May

The One Where It All Came To An End

On Friday morning we didn’t have to be in class until 10, so I got up at the normal time and took the opportunity to do some packing and sorting, knowing that it was quite likely I wouldn’t be up to it later in the evening…! Ahem!

I then walked to Friedrichstraße station to get myself a monthly train ticket: the time had sadly come to leave our lovely apartment right in the centre of town, and for me to move a bit further away from the centre than I would like – hence the need for a monthly Bahnkarte! I was going to enjoy one last mooch up Friedrichstraße to school, but once I had my Bahnkarte for the painfully hefty sum of €80, the temptation to hop on the U-Bahn was too great! I might as well get my money’s worth, after all!

Slightly controversial photo as you get to Checkpoint Charlie U-Bahn station closest to the BSE

Slightly controversial photo as you get to Checkpoint Charlie U-Bahn station closest to the BSE

When I arrived at school, there were a few people printing bits and bobs for their lessons that afternoon – the last lessons of our CELTA course! I chatted away whilst I printed my CV and cover letter that I’d written the night before and then I snuck up to the fifth floor to the main Berlin School of English office. I was hoping to find John, the School Manager who had given us our input session on working in Germany the day before, and I was glad to see he was in there. I was then incredibly taken aback when he said “oh brilliant, I was hoping you might apply soon!” and then took me straight over to the school calendar and booked me in for an interview on Tuesday afternoon! He hadn’t even looked at my CV or cover letter, but told me he had asked Eoghan to encourage me to apply, which was very flattering. The interview will be with him and Eoghan, so I need to get my preparation on so that I don’t let Eoghan down.

After that exciting start, I bounded back downstairs just in time to get some tea before Helen’s first short input session. She took us through some final bits of admin, such as returning our locker keys and signing to agree that we had done our 120 hours of the course (and then some at home!!!) and all the necessary observations and Teaching Practices. We also had to let her know how we would like to collect our files and receive our results. One of my very, very few criticisms of the CELTA is that you have to wait for your result to be moderated by the Cambridge examiner before you know, so we all have to wait until next week before we know what we’ve got, which for curious people like me is too long!

We also filled in an Evaluation Form and I gave Eoghan and Helen glowing feedback for what has been a truly fantastic course.

We then didn’t have a break due to the later start, and Eoghan came in to teach us about Basic Literacy with an Overhead Projector – vintage! This involved teaching us the days of the week in Farsi, which initially seemed a little pointless until we realised that he was teaching us to appreciate that some people won’t always find the English alphabet and writing customs straightforward – let alone the language. He made us copy out the Farsi words, starting from right to left, and it really was like being in Reception again, so jagged were my words! We reflected on the experience and went through some other ways you could teach people new to the Roman alphabet how to comprehend basic things in English, such as signs like ‘No Smoking’ and numbers. It was a fascinating last session, and it was over all too soon! Eoghan had a sad little face on as he wished us well in the next stage of our lives, and that was our last input session over!

It was lunchtime, and I had planned to spend it doing ‘life admin.’ James wanted to talk through his lesson plan, which was fantastic (on a very hard subject of ‘I wish…’) and then I headed home. I did some bits and bobs of cleaning and packing, and then headed back to school around 3.30 via Edeka. Helen had kindly given us €20 to buy some supplies for a little goodbye party for our students, and because I knew I was heading home, I volunteered to collect the supplies. Little did I realise how heavy €20 worth of beer and snacks were, nor how many funny looks I would receive from carrying two shopping bags of clinking drinks!

Our little party haul

The first round of our little party haul

I made it to school and put everything in the fridge, and then set about sneaking all the other trainees into the Resource Room to sign the card I found for Eoghan and Helen. After the break after James’ lesson, which was apparently a rip-roaring success, I joined the rest of the class and between the 4 of us, we filled the remainder of the time with some leftover grammar exercises and then Pictionary at the end.

Then all the students from the other class came to join our classroom (some of which we had taught in our first two weeks) and we all toasted the end of our course. It was actually a really nice idea to have a little gathering because it gave the students time to tell us a bit more about themselves, and they were also all very sweet about our teaching skills! My highlight was Ulf in our class (a lovely older German man who is super keen!) telling me that I am a natural teacher, and not believing that I hadn’t taught before!

The students drifted away around 6 (except good old Basti from our class, who went to get us more beer!) and then we just had to wait for the trainees who taught on Friday to finish their self-evaluations. Then both Helen and Eoghan came to join us and we toasted them and I gave them our card and little box of ‘Merci’ chocolates.

They actually then both decided to join us for dinner, which was really lovely I thought. Eoghan came with us on the U-Bahn and Helen joined us a bit later on her bike. Jamaal, an American on our course, had booked us a table in The Bird which is a burger place near my favourite Mauerpark (a park following the line of the wall). The restaurant was absolutely heaving when we got there, and we were already technically an hour late which wasn’t ideal! But they were very kind and understanding, and we all squished round the table and enjoyed some seriously giant burgers, huge helpings of chips and of course some beer. It got a bit raucous and we all had a great time. The stand out thing for me was learning that Eoghan only does one CELTA course a year, as his main role is as the Director of Studies for the Berlin School of English, so I feel incredibly lucky to have had his support and advice – especially as it led to him encouraging me to apply for a job there, which I desperately hope I get!

My wonderful class, with Eoghan, one of our tutors and the BSE DoS in the right-hand corner

My wonderful class, with Eoghan, one of our tutors and the BSE DoS in the right-hand corner

We got hugs from both Helen and Eoghan as they left, and then we all walked onto another bar. I learnt from Helen as she said goodbye to me outside (I had been on the phone) that John had been keen to recruit a British woman to his team, and she wished me all the best with my interview, which I thought was incredibly kind.

We didn’t actually make it to another bar as a group, though as some people were so exhausted they had to head home. Alex wanted to say goodbye to Sabrina, who was out with her friend Laura, so we said our goodbyes before the others got to the next bar, and were both super sad. (Ingrid had already walked home to pack by this point.) We met Sabrina in the Mauerpark and then we walked to Kauf dich glüchlich, the waffle place I was in with her last Friday as well. After so many salty chips I fancied something sweet, so I had an ice cream milkshake and Sabrina and her friend Laura tried the local vodka, which was too much for me after 6 hours or so of drinking!

My lovely CELTA group from the other end (minus Rory, who left on Thursday evening to beat the train strike!)

My lovely CELTA group from the other end (minus Rory, who left on Thursday evening to beat the train strike!)

Around 11.30, Alex and I crashed massively, and I could see she didn’t want to say any more goodbyes, so I dragged us both away and we headed home. Her and Sabrina really made a connection and I really hope they get to see each other again, just like I really hope I get to see Alex and Ingrid again because I feel like I’ve made two incredibly good friends there – you don’t survive CELTA together and then never hear from one another again, I don’t think!

Alex and I made a bit of a boo-boo with the tram on the way home, as it diverted past our flat due to the building work on the track, so we had an extra-long walk home to burn off perhaps four or five of the heap of chips we ate. By the time I got home, I was utterly exhausted! So exhausted, in fact, that I fell asleep with my phone on my chest without even saying goodnight to Alex (boyfriend, not flatmate this time!) It was a really lovely end to an incredible four weeks….and if you want to read more of my general thoughts about the CELTA, I’ll be writing a post on that soon : )

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About BerLingo

My name is Rachel, I am 25 and I love Germany. I studied German, Spanish and Italian at Durham University for four years, one of which I spent living in Europe, and then worked at Routledge academic publishing house for almost 3 years. Towards the end of 2014, I decided it was time to finally fulfil a long-held ambition to live in Berlin, and so in April 2015 I completed the CELTA qualification (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults, adminstered by Cambridge University) here in the German capital. Now qualified, my blog berlingo18.wordpress.com charts my experiences as a new English teacher in my favourite city... (More information about my plans can be found in my first ever blog post.)
This entry was posted in Berlin, Berlin School of English, CELTA, Teaching Practice and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to CELTA Week Four (better late than never!)

  1. Pingback: Useful links for CELTA | Sandy Millin

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