Improving DELTA/DipTESOL teaching practice

The assessed teaching practice block for the DELTA/DipTESOL is a nerve-wracking and stressful time for all candidates. Why is that, when the majority of teachers who undergo it are vastly experienced, full-of-ideas, effective teachers? Is it because for the requirements of this assessment you have to be a kind of DELTA robot jumping through particular standardised hoops to score good grades? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps the stress is caused by the incredibly time-consuming lesson plans that most candidates are trying to complete until some ungodly hour every night.

As a follow up to my last blog where I questioned the results of dogme vs DELTA, I thought it might be worthwhile to gather some  opinions on how to improve the DELTA/DipTESOL teaching practice. What I mean by ‘improve’ is to make the whole thing more representative of the teaching that goes on in the 2012 classroom. It seems to me that the broad range of a teacher’s palette is not fully tested by the current standards.

I hope that you will add to my suggestions (and also gathered from some friends). I also hope that someone from Cambridge and/or Trinity will have the courage (and professionalism) to answer the suggestions…or at the very least publicly acknowledge that they are taking on board the proposed recommendations from teachers on ‘the front line’ as it were!

Suggestions to make DELTA/DipTESOL assessed teaching practice more relevant to current classroom approaches

  • One of the assessed lessons should be taught without being planned whatsoever. The examiner speaks to the candidate 10mins before the lesson and gives them a Theme or Grammar Point that must be covered. The candidate then has to give an improvised/ ‘unplugged’/dogme (whatever you want to call it) lesson on the given subject.

  • The candidate must teach a lesson in front of a group of unknown (to them) students. This will mean that the candidate has to be able to deal with a class of strangers and therefore quickly establish a rapport, whilst still clearly showing that some Learner Outcome is achieved…and not just ‘general chatting’

  • @JoshSRound suggested: In the first week, being observed/assessed on the Thur & Fri for the full 90 minute lessons. Candidate gives a much briefer plan pre-lesson on Thursday, but aims for 2 coherent sessions which flow logically from one to the next (much closer to realistic teaching scenario, more room to showcase skills); then candidate does post-lesson plans to give detail & rationale for what happened.

  • A ‘spot check’ where the examiner walks into a ‘normal’ class during the two weeks and judges it for effectiveness. (Perhaps not fair on the candidate though, but then different criteria will need to be used) but this has its own set of issues. Planning problems and the candidate will probably be more on edge not knowing when to expect assessment and feeling unprepared. Is that worthwhile?.

  • A purely technology based lesson is mandatory. Obviously not every assessment centre has IWBs, but the candidate should have a paperless lesson showcasing their knowledge of available teaching tech resources. Using video in class, video email for spoken homework (mailvu, eyejot, voicethread), students making a film (maybe animated with various software), facebook chats, twitter, googledocs for collaboration, wallwisher (that links to @seanbanville list of ideas) etc etc – all the 1000s of possibilities….ie the candidate proves that they they have an awareness of freetech4teachers , teachertrainingvideos, nikpeachey, jamiekeddie et al

  • Teaching from a course book, but imaginatively using outside material etc so that there is the least amount of disruption for students. ie How a coursebook can form the basis of fun and innovative teaching rather than necessarily re-inventing the wheel all the time.

  • Teaching a lesson according to a particular method or style e.g. Task Based Learning (i.e. one of the methods that you should have read about on your course) and it being judged on those parameters ie different criteria for different lesson types. (This of course leads to the knotty question of standardization and how that can be achieved.)

  • Dictate broad language aims for a lesson and then the focus would purely be on the quality and choice of techniques.

  • Teach a different type of English other than ‘general’. Why aren’t teachers asked to show off their business, IELTS, YL, one-to-one, English teaching? Maybe candidates could choose one of the options according to the practicalities of the assessment centre.

  • My colleague, Willy ‘never-conform-to-anyone’s-checkboxes’ Cardoso (@willycard) suggested: Candidate should be able to host a meeting (60 minutes) in which nothing is “taught” but a lot is learned. — A taoist view of TEFL perhaps. (see great TEFL Taoist

  • @willycard  again: Candidate should be able to make a lesson of Cutting Edge Pre-Intermediate free of white-anglosaxon values, such as commercialism, gossip, celebrity, science and literature “Gods”, etc. And instead, focus on the values and role-models of the people having the lesson.

    Any more ideas?

  • Bren Brennan

    About Bren Brennan

    Bren initially trained here at SGI and then joined the staff in 2005. Since 2006, he has taught abroad in Budapest, Berlin and now at Mondragon University in Spain. He returns to teach at SGI London every summer and completed the SGI Trinity DipTESOL in 2011. He also regularly writes posts for students here.
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