Jan 6

CELTA TP Potholes- How NOT to run out of time

Teaching Practice potholes
How NOT to run out of time
If you want some top tips for getting the TIMING right in your CELTA TP lessons, this is for you!
 If you see a blank screen above, just breathe and count to five slowly. It seems to be taking a few seconds to load for some people! I think it's worth the wait!

As a CELTA trainer, I’ve watched hundreds of lessons where trainee teachers run out of time and the lesson ends before they have time to do the final activity. Sound familiar? Is this you? Keep watching.

I’m Jo Gakonga and if we’re meeting for the first time, I've been a CELTA trainer for over 20 years and I make videos at ELT-Training for CELTA trainees, novice teachers and people a bit further down their teaching road. If you like this, don’t forget to like and subscribe – I make a new video every week.

The BIG problem with running out of time is that all parts of the lesson aren’t equal in value and the final activity – the one that is in danger of falling off the end of your lesson - is often more authentic practice of language in a lesson or feedback on tasks or language. And these are the most important parts.

So what can you do to avoid this? I’ve got seven useful tips for you and the last two are the most important so keep watching!

  1. Don’t plan too much- it seems obvious but if you think you might have too much in your plan, you almost certainly have. You’re the teacher. You make the decision about what you include but it’s better not to feel rushed. Less is usually more. Better to do a smaller amount with time for practice, than rush through and not teach anything meaningful
  2. You might be thinking that it can be difficult to estimate how long activities will take - and it’s true that it’ll never be the same with any two groups of learners - but you can try an activity out yourself or ask a friend. Just remember that you’ll do things faster than your learners will!
  3. Tip number 3 is to be realistic, even conservative, about timing. Add some extra time to an activity. If you think it’ll take 5 minutes, give it 7 or 8. And remember that NOTHING takes 2 minutes in a language classroom!
  4. You might be thinking that if you’re so conservative with timing, you run the risk of running out of things to do. Now, no one wants that- it’s a horrible feeling to be standing in front of a class with nothing planned and them all looking expectantly at you. But the answer is to include a couple of flexi stages- these are things that you CAN do, that are useful EXTRA practice, but that aren’t essential and you could miss out. Include one at the end, in case you run out of time.
  5. A small practical tip is to add times on your lesson plan (not 5 mins, but the actual time you expect it to be (2:40pm) so that you can easily see if you’re running to time and then you can make the decision about including your flexi-stage or not. Keep an eye on the time in the lesson, too - make sure you can see it easily.
  6. OK, final two tips. These are the important ones and they’re linked. You’ll write an aim for each stage of your plan, so look at that and think about WHY you’re doing this activity. If it’s just as a warmer to get them interested and engaged, 5 minutes is long enough for this. Make sure that you prioritise your freer practice and feedback stages- give them more time because they’re more important.
  7. My final piece of advice is to plan from the back. When you’re writing your plan, put in your freer practice and feedback stages FIRST and how long you want to spend on them. Then plan backwards from that and put your other activities in to see what’s possible in the time you have.

OK, I hope that those tips help a bit and check out my site for more useful material. See you there.
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