Tuesday, June 30, 2009

CELTA-- Mission: Accomplished!

This past Saturday the 27Th of June was my final CELTA class at Solihull College and apparently I have passed. While I was told nothing explicitly that I had passed it is apparent from the Cambridge University class manifesto that if I was going to fail I would have been told before the three quarter point of the class and given a one-to-one tutorial or something.

Apparently I will receive some certificate from Solihull College in the mail in the coming couple weeks and then the entire classes files get sent to Cambridge University where they are reviewed and then held for 1 entire year. But after they are initially reviewed and the assessors agree with our instructors marks then an official Cambridge University CELTA certificate is sent to us.

So... Do I think the class was worth it?

Yes, absolutely. I have some teaching experience behind me already but a few techniques and methods that are drilled into you are actually quite useful. They are things that you look at and say, 'Why didn't I think of that before?' type things. I imagine that for people who have no classroom experience it would be even more beneficial.

I found the class at Solihull College to be well run and the instructors very approachable and knowledgable. The building was amazing and the classrooms have top of the line equipment that made a trainee-teacher's life all the much easier.

One of the things I personally found the hardest to deal with was the difference in the instructors. They each had their own quirks; likes and dislikes. What one instructor would love another would hate and while it probably had little impact overall whether you passed or failed a training teaching lesson it was hard to take sometimes hearing somebody shoot down what the other praised. But of course out in the real world of teaching you are bound to have directors or educational coordinators who like and dislike different methods and approaches in teaching.

I never found the work for the class to be to difficult just very time consuming and cumbersome. Unless you are an absolute grammar wizz you will find yourself knee deep in a pile of teaching and grammar reference books. Searching through them to refresh yourself with what a defining and non-defining clause is the night before you are due to teach and writing out your lesson plan is a burden on your time.

Out of our class of 12 we had 2 drop out and only ended with 10 people. I am pretty sure all of them graduated minus one who may or may not have passed the course.

The one thing I found very difficult about the course was the 2 lengthy breaks we had. We had our first class at the end of March 09 and then had almost 3 weeks off because of the Easter break before coming back again for the 2nd class. We also had the half-term break in May 09 and I really found these to be inhibitive to my completing the course. I really didn't want to go back after the breaks but I am glad that I did.

If I was to make a suggestion for the course it would be to show either a blank certificate or perhaps the instructors certificate of CELTA to the class at some point between the halfway and three quarter mark of the class. I think it would be a great motivator and a reminder to the students for what they are there for.

I met a few people that I will definitely keep in contact with in my class and I am extremely glad that I did to when I did. Apparently the July/August intensive CELTA course at Solihull College has been cancelled because of one of the instructor's children coming down with swine flu!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

CELTA in Solihull... The Final Stretch!

CELTA in Solihull is almost complete and I think I am on track to pass the course and receive my certificate... I think.

I have one more assignment due on Saturday that I need to finish off this week on what I have learned from observing other qualified teachers and CELTA trainees like myself over the past few months. I am not expecting any problems with that.

I also have to go to the college tomorrow morning and observe a qualififed teacher doing her thing in the classroom as you need to have observed a total of 6 hours. I only have 3.5 hours under my belt.

And then I have only one more teaching session consisting of one hour on Monday. Other than that, I am on a serious downhill slope.

I cannot wait to have my Saturdays back... And not having to go on the other 2 nights will be a plus too i guess...

What's next?

Well, if the VA comes through for me I will be attending The University of Birmingham in the Fall. The G.I. Bill does indeed kick ass.

Ohhh, and the weather lately kicks ass too....

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Weekend of Wales Watching

With the weather being absolutely glorious this weekend here in The UK it was a mandatory duty to take the kids out of the city into the countryside. But where to go? Living in Birmingham kinda means that you are smack dab in the middle of England but all the cool and interesting stuff is at least a 2 hours drive away.

I decided that we were going to drive towards the middle of Wales and see what we came across but when you are traveling with 2 young kids you know you are not going to make it too far before they start getting agitated and express their desire to do something other than sit in a moving vehicle.

Not to far past the Welsh border we came across a pleasant looking area near an old novelty steam train engine railroad station where we stopped and let the kids loose. There was a large stream about 100 feet from the station and there was a decent pathway along side the stream where we could walk for a little bit and show the kids how to skip stones. They were more interested in lobbing mini boulders into the water to watch them make a splash and hear the 'kaplunk' sound.

After an hour or so we loaded back up and headed off deeper into the belly of Wales. Until the kids got hungry that is. We found a self proclaimed 'cafe' just off the road we were traveling down and stopped. The food was more expensive that I would have thought and not very good but none the less did the job. £23.50 for 2 battered Cods, a kid's chicken nuggets meal and 2 drinks really does seem over the top.

Eventually we came across some dramatic landscapes that one probably does not typically associate with Wales. Well, people who are not from The UK anyway.

I'm not trying to make it out like these were some huge mountains or anything but as you can see if you look closely in the photo there were cars stopping at that parking area solely because their cars were overheating. Well maybe the one in the photo only did that because it was a BMW.

This particular area is called Snowdonia and there were quite a few people trekking up the hills there. I mean, all the parking spots were filled but there wasn't really anyone around so I figure that they had all walked to the top somewhere. I would have really liked to climb up there but I don't think my pregnant wife and 2 young ones would have appreciated it too much.

We got back into the car and after not long at all we came to the coast. As warm as it was outside I figured there would have been a lot more people at the beach but I soon figured out why there was not more of a crowd. It seems that all the sharpest rocks that the seas have to offer decided to wash themselves up on this particular beach in Criccieth, Wales. Nice...

The kids played in the surf for a few hours before we started our journey back to the land of terraced houses but it took us a lot longer than expected to return. The roads taking everyone back to England were backed up as if border control had started to checks at the English/Welsh border.

Here's to hoping the rest of the summer stays as gorgeous as this past weekend!