Translingual exit tickets | A translanguaging task

translingual exit ticket.png

Here’s my last offering from this series on translanguaging. It’s adapted from an activity called Head Sentences from Deller and Rinvolucri’s Using the Mother Tongue (2007). It’s a great way to end a lesson. The example I’ve included is meant for teacher training but it could be adapted to any sort of teaching or training context.

For more information on translanguaging, read the first post in this series.

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Objectives

  • Reflect on learning from a lesson/session
  • Do some informal action planning
  • Maximise communicative potential through translanguaging.

Materials

  • Prepare some sentence stems on a slide or write them up on the board. Alternatively, you could give out slips of paper with the stems.

Procedure

  • Ask participants to complete these sentence stems in L1 by reflecting on what they’d learnt in the session and what they’d like to apply with their own learners. They shouldn’t try to change these stems into L1 and the sentences they come up with should be in a mix of English and L1.

I found … useful because …

I’m not sure about …

I will try …

I hope …

  • Get participants to share in groups and report back on common points or interesting ideas. Depending on your participant profile, you could do this in L1, English or both.
  • For further language work, get participants to write a common reflection item on the board in a mix of English and L1 and help them convert the sentence into a wholly English sentence.

Reflections

Here are mine:

I found translanguaging useful because it reflects natural language use across communities in India and may help build a stronger affective connection with the language being taught.

I’m not sure about its effectiveness and I will need to apply it over a sustained period of time to explore its impact and limitations. 

I will try to incorporate more translingual reflective activities like this one to make reflection more meaningful particularly for students and teachers with a lower proficiency in English. 

I hope to share more translingual activities and perhaps compile them into an ebook. 

I hope you enjoyed this series of activities. If you come across any examples of translingual texts or come up with your own translanguaging activities, do share them with me.

References

  • Deller, S. & Rinvolucri, M. (2007) Using the Mother Tongue. Viva.

Image attribution: ‘< exit’ by seb joguet | Flickr |CC BY-NC 2.0

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Reading race | A translingual task

Translanguaging reading race.png

This task is inspired by Listen and Find, an activity from Deller and Rinvolucri’s Using the Mother Tongue (2007). A lot of Indian teachers like many of their peers around the world are constrained in terms of what they can do in the classroom because they need to follow textbooks. This simple task offers a translingual tweak to exploring vocabulary within existing textbook passages. I’ve used an online text on Internet safety for kids as an example but you could use any level-appropriate text.

For more information on translanguaging, read the first post in this series.


Objectives

  • Introduce or review vocabulary within a text
  • Encourage learners to use their home language to understand lexis in English
  • Maximise communicative potential through translanguaging.

Materials 

  • Select an English text that the learners can access either as a print-out or in their textbooks. With older learners, try Whatsapping short texts or infographics and having them do the activity using their phones.
  • Choose lexical items from this text and and come up with a list of translations in the learners’ home languages. Put these on a slide as animated bullets or on stick-ups or by writing them on the board before the lesson and hiding them with a flipchart.

Warm-up

  • Start with an appropriate discussion question to lead into the topic of the text. This can be done in the learners’ home language and using a combination of languages based on their level.

Translanguaging task 

  • Ask learners to keep the text open in front of them and have a pencil handy.
  • Display the first word in the learners’ home languages. Ask them to find the word in the text as quickly as possible and underline it.
  • When they’ve finished underlining the word, they must say ‘bingo’ and raise their hand.
  • Explore meaning, pronunciation and/or form before proceeding to the next lexical item.

An example

I ran this activity recently with this text with words in Kannada, Hindi and Marathi.

Words for the reading race (Kannada / Hindi / Marathi)

A. ಪೋಷಕರು / माता-पिता / पालक

B. ಅಡ್ಡಹೆಸರು / उपनाम / टोपणनाव

C. ನಯವಾದ  / भद्र / विनम्र

D. ಮಾಹಿತಿ / जानकारी / माहिती

Answers

A. Parents

B. Nickname

C. Polite

D. Information

You can then focus on meaning by contrasting similarities or differences. For example, in Kannada, ಪೋಷಕರು means parents but it also means guardians whereas the word guardian implies something different in English.

Extension task

  • Give the learners an interesting question to discuss based on the text. Ask them to talk in their home language but using the English words they found and explored in the reading race.

References

  • Deller, S. & Rinvolucri, M. (2007) Using the Mother Tongue. Viva.

Parallel stories | A translanguaging task

Translanguaging Pratham books.png

Here’s the next activity in my translanguaging series. It’s designed to be used with a multilingual group of learners but you could also adapt it for a monolingual group. The task uses extracts in different languages from a story calledI am not afraid’ by Mini Shrinivasan from Pratham Books’ Storyweaver collection. I’ve included a selection of eight languages from Southern and Western India. However, the Storyweaver site has this particular story in 42 languages including a number of European and Asian languages so you should be able to easily adapt it for your context.

On the face of it, this is an activity for younger learners who are beginning to learn English but I think it could be used with older beginners as well.

For more information on translanguaging, read the first post in this series.


Objectives

  • Explore story-specific vocabulary and structures based on learner needs
  • Develop learners’ storytelling abilities in both their home language and English
  • Maximise communicative potential through translanguaging.

Materials 

  • I ran this task off slides using a projector but you could also distribute printouts in  classic information-gap style. The handout includes the following languages: Gujarati (p.1), Hindi (p.2), Kannada (p.3), Konkani (p.4), Marathi (p.5), Tamil (p.6), Telugu (p.7), Urdu (p.8), English (p.9).
  • Download the English version of the book from this link. On this site, you’ll also see a hyperlink that says ’51 versions available in 42 languages’ which can be used to download translations.

Warm-up

  • If you’re working with young learners, you could ask if they are afraid of the dark and why.
  • If you’re working with relatively older learners, get them to brainstorm things they’ll see at night when it’s dark.

Translanguaging task

  • Group learners so you have students with different home languages seated together.
  • Ask learners to tell you what their home languages are by getting them to raise their hands. Do this step only if you want to make sure everyone knows what language they are going to be focusing on in this task.
  • Ask everyone put their heads on the table or turn away from the screen.
  • Bring up the extracts from ‘I am not afraid’, one language at a time asking learners to raise their heads and silently read what’s written. For example, “Kannada speakers, please look at the screen and read. Now put your head down. Konkani speakers etc.” Don’t let them write anything.
  • When you’ve displayed all the extracts, ask learners to raise their heads and work together to figure out what was written under the picture. Ask them to give you a sentence or a couple of sentences in English.
  • Take whole class feedback by writing each group’s sentences on the board.
  • Prompt error correction right away or after displaying Mini Shrinivasan’s original English version (page 9 of the handout) and getting everyone to compare the learner generated sentences to the original text.
  • You may want to explore a range of language areas based on errors learners are making: vocabulary (adjectives, intensifiers, indefinite pronouns) | grammar: simple questions, ‘there is/are’, ‘it is’.
  • Now ask learners to discuss what happens next in the story in their home languages.
  • After learners have decided on a sentence or a couple of sentences that describe what happens next, get them to convert all the nouns to English ones. Then encourage them to replace the function words and change the word order where necessary.
  • Take whole class feedback by writing each group’s sentences on the board.
  • Display page 10 of the handout and ask learners to see how similar or different their sentences were and provide further language feedback.

Extension task 

  • Ask learners to work in pairs or groups to co-create and narrate a story using these two pages from “I’m not afraid” as a story starter. They can use their home languages to discuss the story but must try to make sure that most of the nouns are in English when they report back to the whole class. You can use the following questions as prompts:
    • Who is this girl?
    • Where is she?
    • Where is she going?
    • How does she feel?
    • What happens next?
    • What happens at the end of the story?

Task frame

  • This task type can be replicated with any story on Storyweaver and with any language that’s available on that platform:
    • Choose an interesting page from one of the Storyweaver books. It should be one that makes learners curious.
    • Find the translations of the story that you’d like your students to work with. These are always listed on the book’s ‘homepage’.
    • Prepare printouts or put these on slides. Don’t forget to acknowledge Pratham Books which licences all the stories and illustrations under Creative Commons. Also credit authors, illustrators and translators.
    • Run the activity as an information gap.
    • Allow students to use multiple languages to communicate.
    • Focus on errors, emerging language needs, vocabulary or contrastive analysis.
    • End with some translingual storytelling.

Here’s the whole book in English with Rayika Sen’s gorgeous illustrations.

https://storyweaver.org.in/stories/show-in-iframe/959-i-am-not-afraid?iframe=true

The Storyweaver site is ostensibly for children and grades stories according to their language level – ‘I am not afraid’ is level 1. I’m not completely sure how this level system works. There are books with more difficult lexis (level 3) and I’ve used some of these very successfully with adult learners although those activities didn’t involve translanguaging. I’ll share one soon.

Image attribution for the image used at the beginning of this post: Pratham Books CC BY 4.0 |  Illustrator: Rayika Sen 

Save your ಮಕ್ಕಳು 🧒👦🏽👧 | A translanguaging task

Translanguaging kannada.png

I’ve only road-tested this activity once with a group of teachers I recently trained but I think it will work well with learners as well. Strictly speaking, the text I’ve used for this task doesn’t really mix languages. But I think interactions within the task offer lots of opportunities for translanguaging. What I like about this text is its versatility. It can be used with a range of Indian learners as well as multilingual groups – particularly in Southern India. The sign repeats similar (but not the same!) messages in Kannada, English, Tamil, Hindi, Urdu and Telugu. At a recent workshop I conducted for teachers, I did this as a Kannada-English translanguaging task.

For more information on translanguaging, read the first post in this series.


Objectives

  • Introduce and practise the chunk “keep your (noun) + (adjective)”
  • Encourage students to explore meaning more deeply in English and their home language
  • Maximise communicative potential through translanguaging.

Materials 

  • Display the Instagram post or get learners to access it on their own devices.

Warm-up

  • Show learners the picture and ask them to discuss the following questions:
    1. Where is this sign? (NB: It’s on a shopfront on Commercial Street in Bangalore)
    2. Who is the sign meant for? Why is it in so many languages?
    3. Who has put up the sign?
    4. Why have they put it up? What do you think has happened on Commercial Street?

These questions are adapted from ones suggested by Helen Carnello from St. Mary Kanarpady at the workshop. 

Translanguaging task 

  • Ask learners to look at the English sign “Safe your children” and find any mistakes. They’re likely to tell you that there’s a spelling mistake. Write the corrected sentence on the board “Save your children.”
  • Now get learners to focus on the Kannada sign “ಮಕ್ಕಳನ್ನು ಉಳಿಸಿ” (makkaḷannu uḷisi) and ask them if they think there’s a difference between the English and Kannada signs. Elicit that the Kannada sign actually says “Save children or Save the children”. Get learners to discuss the difference in meaning in English between “save your children” and “save the children” and whether this difference is important in Kannada – would they want to start the sentence with ನಿಮ್ಮ (nimma)? For beginners, it might be useful to explore the position of the verb in Kannada (last) vs. English (first). 
  • Link back to what learners shared about why the sign has been put up in this busy street in Bangalore. Ask them if “ಮಕ್ಕಳನ್ನು ಉಳಿಸಿ” (makkaḷannu uḷisi) makes sense in this context. Elicit that “ಉಳಿಸಿ” (uḷisi) means helping someone who is in immediate danger and may not be correct in this context. Ask learners to help you with a verb in Kannada that conveys the meaning better (perhaps ರಕ್ಷಿಸಿ or ಕಾಪಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಿ).*
  • Have learners revisit the English sign. Suggest that “save” and “ಉಳಿಸಿ” (uḷisi) have a similar meaning and don’t make sense in this context. Get them to notice the sentence at the bottom in English “As a parent, safeguard your children”. Elicit that this sounds very formal and somewhat unnatural.  Get learners to use ಕಾಪಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಿ (kāpāḍikoḷḷi) or similar to rephrase the English sign. Remind learners that the verb in English doesn’t come last unlike Kannada and elicit “Keep your children safe”.
  • Write this sentence on the board and highlight this lexical chunk: keep your + noun + adjective
  • Get learners to work in groups to create a mindmap with “keep your” at the centre and ask them to brainstorm other combinations such keep your classroom clean etc. Get learners to do a gallery walk and collect useful phrases from other groups.
  • Ask learners to practise saying the phrases to each other prefixing them with ‘please’.

*Many thanks to Archana Sanvi from Silas Int. School for giving us a great explanation of the meaning of the Kannada text at the workshop.

Extension task 

  • Get learners to create a bilingual Kannada-English poster for their school/city/community that provides some advice or warnings.
  • Alternatively, ask them to work in pairs to come up with backstories for one of the phrases they brainstormed. For example, “keep your classroom clean” – why did the teacher have to say this to his/her students? What had happened? Students can do some translanguaging using Kannada, English or any other home language. Encourage them to use content words in English – you can support them by putting up content words in English on the board

Task frame

  • Marek left a comment on one of my other translanguaging posts that he could probably adapt some of the ideas for his teaching context in Flanders where there’s a lot of translanguaging. I realised then that it might worthwhile including a note on the structure of the task so it can be repurposed for other texts, contexts and languages. At the moment, it all looks very Indian.
  • Here’s the frame or structure of this task.
    • Find a bilingual or multilingual authentic text where there are some differences in meaning between ostensibly similar messages in different languages.
    • Get learners to understand the L2 text.
    • Have them explore the meaning of the L1 text.
    • Contrast the meaning of the two texts and make changes to the L2/L1 message where appropriate.
    • Draw out any useful vocabulary, structures or chunks from the L2 text and have students explore this.
    • Get learners to do a productive follow-up activity that allows them to use both L1 and L2 flexibly.

Translanguaging and the teacher

I think teachers are sometimes apprehensive about multilingual approaches when they can’t speak their students’ home languages. I don’t speak Kannada but when I ran this activity last week, participants spoke in Kannada for at least 50% of the time and the task focused on exploring meaning and form in Kannada and I wasn’t at sea. The goal here is to facilitate translanguaging and home language use as a way of enabling students to learn English but that doesn’t necessarily mean that teacher needs to speak in L1 or understand its grammar and rules.

Image attribution

  1. Brigade Road by Charles Haynes | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  2. The Instagram image was posted by @mumbaipaused on May 26, 2018: https://www.instagram.com/p/BjOXUnAlG9S/

Chicken Vada-Pav | A translanguaging task

Translanguaging Marathi.png

Here’s another translanguaging task based on a translingual text from a poster advertising the ubiquitous vada-pav or Bombay burger. Vada-pavs generally have a fried potato filling but this one unusually has chicken. The text says “Garam-Spicy Chicken Vada-Pav” in the Devanagari script and then repeats the words Chicken Vada-Pav in the Roman script. The Indian words are presumably in Marathi but are intelligible to Hindi speakers.

For more information on translanguaging, read the first post in this series.


View this post on Instagram

We need more of these and Goan sausage pav.

A post shared by Mumbai Paused (@mumbaipaused) on

Objectives

  • Review and recycle adjectives related to food
  • Raise awareness of the phonemic variation between /v/, /w/ and /ʋ/
  • Maximise communicative potential through translanguaging.

Materials 

  • Display the Instagram post or get learners to access it on their own devices.

Warm-up

  • Ask learners to talk about their favourite street food with their partners.
  • Display the Instagram post and ask learners to discuss if there’s anything unusual about this street food. Would they want to try it?

Translanguaging task

  • Get learners to identify all the English words (spicy and chicken).
  • Ask them to translate the other words into English so the text becomes wholly English (Elicit “Hot and spicy chicken burger/sandwich”).
  • Ask them to discuss the following questions in their home language and/or English:
  1. In the original Marathi text, there’s no ‘and’ between the adjectives, why did we add ‘and’ in English?
  2. Why didn’t we do a literal translation of vada-pav (fritter-bread/roll)? Why is burger/sandwich a better way of describing the dish in English?
  • Get learners to work with गरम-Spicy and come up with alternatives to ‘spicy’ for different translingual combinations.
  • Have them now convert these into wholly English combinations inserting an ‘and’ between the adjectives (hot and delicious, hot and sour etc..
  • Now focus on ‘chicken’ and ask learners to brainstorm other adjectives that could modify vada-pav/burger (vegetable, potato, lentil etc.).
  • Lastly, get them to notice the spelling of pav (paw) in the Roman script at the bottom of the poster. Ask them to consider how the word is spelled phonetically in Marathi and how best to write this in English (vada or wada | pav, paw or pao)? There may be some variations here in how they say this in their home language. It might also be useful to point out the mouth positioning for /v/, /w/ and the Marathi phoneme /ʋ/ in vada-pav vs. wada-pao. Interestingly, the word ‘pav’ has come to Marathi from the Portuguese ‘pão’ via Konkani.

Extension task 

  • Get learners to work in groups to make posters advertising their own favourite street food. They can use a combination of scripts and languages.

 

I tried this activity with some teachers recently. It was fairly quick and they had a lot of fun with it.

Image attribution: 

  1. The vada pav image is sourced from Garrett Ziegler | Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
  2. The Instagram image was posted by @mumbaipaused on Oct 2, 2018: https://www.instagram.com/p/BobrJlNFTZ2/?

Keep काम | A translanguaging task

Translanguaging.png

I was in the small South Indian town of Manipal last week. If you’re not from India, you may not have heard of it. It sits on a plateau overlooking the ancient coastal temple town of Udupi and is famous for one of India’s most well-known private universities, the Manipal Academy of Higher Education. I was invited to a learning event organised by CLIL@India, which is an EU Erasmus funded initiative run in collaboration with three other Indian universities. As the name indicates, it aims to promote Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) in state-run and private schools in India. 

I led two sessions at this event: evidence-based activities and translanguaging tasks with short authentic texts. I’ve been thinking about how to share the materials I used more widely but my presentations and the handouts are designed for a face-to-face workshop and would require some commentary and context-setting to understand. So I’ve decided to do a slow release of the activities I ran but first some context. 

In their recently published paper, Jason Anderson and Amy Lightfoot include a useful definition from Garcia (2009) on translanguaging: 

… the act performed by bilinguals of accessing different linguistic features or various modes of what are described as autonomous languages, in order to maximise communicative potential.

Translanguaging, unlike code-switching, involves a lot of blending, meshing and linguistic flexibility – something that’s characterised communication in India for centuries. The recent pedagogical focus on translanguaging argues for drawing on this phenomenon as a resource in the language classroom. 

Over the past year, I’ve been working on developing my own awareness of multilingual practices and one way I’ve done this is by incorporating multilingual or translingual activities into my teaching/training repertoire. Soon after attending Jason’s presentation at the AINET Conference and a session with Jemima Hughes from the British Council, I designed Landshark, an activity that uses an Instagram post with text in Romanised Hindi. Since then, I’ve worked on some others which I was able to share with a group of 40 teachers at this workshop in Manipal. Here’s the first in a series I hope to blog about between now and January. 

This short translingual text is from a mural at a railway station in South Bombay. This text like many others I’ve used comes from @mumbaipaused, my favourite Instagram account. Interestingly, the comments that accompany it also have examples of translanguaging. The text itself plays on the English word ‘calm’ and the Hindi word ‘kaam’ (work). I designed a task using this text in two parts. The first explores pronunciation and the second articles and formulaic expressions.


Warm-up

  • Show learners the post from Instagram and get them to notice the play on words with the similar sounding ‘calm & kaam’. Get them to discuss the following questions in pairs:

  1. Where exactly is this sign?
  2. Why has this sign been painted in this place? 
  3. How does it make people feel? 

Focus on pronunciation

  • Ask them to explain the meaning of ‘calm’ in Hindi (or any other home language) and ‘kaam’ in English to a partner.
  • Now ask them to compare the pronunciation of the two words. Are they exactly the same? Elicit the mouth (rounded) and tongue positioning (back of the tongue low) for /a:/ and contrast this with the Hindi /आ/ sound.
  • Now ask them to look at a list of Hindi words and come up with English words that sound similar: 

Baan बाण (arrow)

Aam आम (mango)

Daak डाक (post)

Haath हाथ (hand)

Shaap शाप (curse)

Paath पाठ (lesson)

Here are the answers:

Barn

Arm

Dark

Heart/hearth

Sharp

Part/path

  • Ask learners to say the Hindi-English word pairs to each other – noticing the subtle differences in the pronunciation of the vowel sounds. In some words, the consonant sounds are very different (paath – retroflex aspirated to alveolar aspirated or interdental). You may need to do additional modelling or drilling. 

Focus on articles and formulaic expressions 

  • Project this table on a slide or write it up on the board. 

1

Keep calm and go to

work 

2

Keep calm and go

?

3

Keep calm and go to the

?

  • Ask learners to work in groups to find more examples of nouns that can be used with these three formulaic expressions. 
  • I’ve included some possible answers in the following table. The teachers I was training also gave me “Keep calm go to bed/hell” 🙂 They also threw (to use the Indian English expression) a googly with “… go to temple”. I need to look that one up. 

1

Keep calm and go to

school

church

college

2

Keep calm and go

home

3

Keep calm and go to the

beach

shopping mall

library

police station

  • Ask learners why we’ve used the definite article before nouns like beach and library. Elicit that both the speaker and the listener know which place is being spoken about and it’s part of their shared knowledge. 
  • Tell them that church and school can also be used with the definite article. Ask them to discuss the difference in meaning between “Keep calm and go to church” vs. “go to the church” (being a member of the institution vs. being a visitor).
  • Finally ask them to look at ‘home’ and discuss why this one doesn’t have the preposition “to” before it (“Go to home” is a common error among Indian speakers).

Extension task 

  • Ask learners to look at the expressions that they came up with and narrate a short story that ends with them saying this expression to someone. For example, your sister finds a big tear in her dress a couple of hours before a party and throws a fit. And you say to her “Keep calm and go to the mall.”

I have used parts of this activity before but it was my first time doing it all together at the workshop in Manipal. I was worried about how familiar they would be with Hindi but wanted to start with this activity because it really demonstrates how you can do a lot with a tiny translingual text. Although the teachers mainly had Tulu, Kannada and Konkani as their L1s, they knew enough Hindi to engage with the activity and enjoy it as well! What I found really interesting was that the group was really diverse in terms of their English language proficiency with quite a few teachers at A1 and a few at C1 and the others in between. I think the tasks were useful for their own language development in addition to raising awareness of translanguaging. 

References

  1. García, O. 2009. “Education, Multilingualism and Translanguaging in the 21st Century.” In Social Justice Through Multilingual Education, edited by T. Skutnabb-KangasR.PhillipsonA. K. Mohanty, and M. Panda140158ClevedonMultilingual Matters.
  2. Jason Anderson & Amy Lightfoot (2018) Translingual practices in English classrooms in India: current perceptions and future possibilities, International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, DOI: 10.1080/13670050.2018.1548558
  3. The Instagram post was posted by @mumbaipaused on July 28, 2018: https://www.instagram.com/p/Blxc1rUFRnH/

 

Life after CELTA | An interview with Resham George

Resham George.png

I remember getting interviewed for a language school in India, where the interviewer first asked me what the CELTA was, and then promptly asked me why I bothered getting it.

Here’s the next interview from my Life after CELTA series. I started this blog series to capture the range of career options that are available to CELTA-qualified teachers in India and the challenges they face in a job market where Cert-TESOL courses aren’t seen as having much value from an employer perspective.

Resham did the CELTA in Bombay a little over a year ago. I wanted to catch up with her because she’d been a drama teacher for a couple of years and I thought it would be interesting to see what sort of expectations she had of the course, whether these needs were met, and if she’d been able to find a job in ELT.  I think her honest and thoughtful responses are going to be very useful for people who are thinking about doing the CELTA and those who’ve just come off the course and are worried about what to do next.


What sort of work were you doing before the CELTA?

Before the CELTA, I edited academic material for a company in Bangalore. I also worked as a drama teacher for 2 years, working with kids between the ages of 4 and 18.

What motivated you to do the course?

When I started off as a teacher, I was pretty much learning how to teach on the job. This was extremely stressful and it made me question my teaching abilities. It can be really difficult overcoming the normal obstacles of being a teacher and it becomes discouraging when you are not trained. I remember feeling like an impostor. When I switched to editing, I soon became bored with my job. I missed interacting with students and the connections I formed with them  as I helped them overcome their individual problems. I knew that I didn’t want to return to teaching theatre. Then I remembered how on my first day at school, my ESL teacher placed a book in my hand and helped me understand the words. That’s how I realized that I wanted to become an ESL teacher. Having learnt from my past mistake, I began researching qualifications to meet this goal. The CELTA was the most recommended out of all the qualifications, so I immediately applied for the course.

What did you expect from the course and did it live up to your expectations?

After getting through, my first step was to Google the things that I could expect on the course. Most accounts included stories of sleepless nights and sudden bursts of tears. Somewhat arrogantly, I didn’t think that I would be that person. After all, I had some teaching experience. I knew where to use my articles and what tenses to use. How hard could it be? The reality was completely different. To manage the course, you have to be super organized, completely committed and ready to sacrifice any semblance of a life for that month. I came in expecting a challenging and stimulating course. What I got was a course that demanded that you sink or swim based on your efforts and ability to adapt to a steep learning curve. Was that a good or a bad thing? I’m not entirely sure. The speed of the course made you use each day of the course as effectively as possible – something that wouldn’t happen in a longer course. But it also meant that most of the pedagogy was absorbed only towards the end of the course. So I was only able to really try out the techniques taught in the CELTA towards the end of the course (and in the months that followed it). If you’re a quick learner, you’ll be fine. If like me, you’re not, then don’t beat yourself up. Because while the course is going on, it might feel like you’re not succeeding. But I guarantee that after the course, once you start teaching regularly, that’s when you realize how much you actually absorbed from the course.

You’re completely immersed in the programme. It becomes a part of every aspect of your life – whether it’s your ride to the centre (I usually used that time to go over my lesson plans) or your dreams (and yes, I did literally start doing my lesson plans in my sleep). The course effectively puts you into the shoes of your learners – instead of being given a list of dos and don’ts, you’re given models to follow. That takes some getting used to, but it makes it easier for you to choose the techniques that you want to try out.

What was your experience with looking for a job after you completed the course? Did you try for any overseas jobs? What challenges did you face?

After the CELTA, the job hunt began almost immediately. Our trainers had prepped us for an uphill struggle, but it was more difficult that I thought it would be. I had expected the CELTA to instantly open doors all around the world. That’s not the case. If you apply for jobs abroad, you’re usually competing with “native” English speakers – qualified and unqualified. It’s tough not to be discouraged or bitter when you realize that the work you put into getting this qualification doesn’t stop international organizations from choosing people based on their own biased (and sometimes racist) criteria.

I have found jobs in the EU for “non-native” speakers, but they almost always apply to people who have a work permit for the region. In my experience, it’s a good idea to check out forums and blogs to find out about which countries accept “non-native” speakers who aren’t from the EU. This includes several countries in South and Central America (Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Peru, Chile to name a few). Some Asian countries will accept you if you have some relevant teaching experience in addition to the CELTA (one of my CELTA batch mates had taught for a few years before the course, and he got a job in China). Japan is pretty stringent, but if you have relevant experience (they usually ask for between 1 to 2 years or more), you could get a job there. Thailand is another possibility. If you’re applying abroad, it’s a good idea to get some teaching experience in India before applying. Include a teaching video/introduction video with your applications – this usually garners more positive responses.

In India, while the CELTA is rapidly becoming more recognized, it is still relatively unknown (compared to the more traditional teaching qualifications like the BEd). I remember getting interviewed for a language school in India, where the interviewer first asked me what the CELTA was, and then promptly asked me why I bothered getting it. So if you’re applying in India, be ready for experiences like this. Also, join as many relevant social media groups as possible – I got my current job by responding to a post on the CELTA India Facebook group.

Where are you currently working now and what sort of work does it involve?

I work at Kings Learning, one of the leading English language schools in Bangalore. I teach General and Business English courses, IELTS and online classes. In addition to training, I also create and edit content for enguru, a language learning app that helps users become familiar with General and/or corporate English. There are several steps involved in this – we start by choosing topics, then building relevant word lists at the appropriate level. After that, we create different sentence structures or activities that help users learn this vocabulary and become familiar with using the words in their own contexts.

The use of apps in English language learning is a relatively new development, but given the positive response that many apps have had, this could be a promising alternative to teaching after doing the CELTA. Some skills that are important in this line of work are grammatical accuracy and knowledge, the ability to grade your language and careful attention to detail.

Have you been able to use what you learnt on the CELTA?

Yes, definitely. While I could speak and write accurately before the course, the ability to explain language (that I developed during the CELTA) was particularly useful for content development and my classes. Similarly, the ability to grade language was useful – both in terms of writing content and teaching classes. Techniques such as ICQs (Instruction Checking Questions) and CCQs (Concept Checking Questions) made it easier and more efficient to check students’ comprehension. On that note, even learning that the teacher’s role in the classroom should be minimal was valuable input for me – one that I constantly try to follow in my classes. The lesson plan format we used in the course was also extremely useful – while I rarely get time to make my plans as detailed as they were during the CELTA, I use the general structure and template to create most of my plans, giving them a cohesive structure.

What sort of impact has the course had on you professionally and/or personally?

Professionally, the course has opened many doors. I had applied for ESL teaching jobs before taking the course, and the number of responses that I received (positive and otherwise) has risen drastically after adding the course to my list of qualifications. Many of my colleagues have a CELTA, and I work with a supervisor who has a CELTA and a DELTA. This course has allowed me to be on an equal footing with my colleagues, also making it easier to work with them since we have common points of reference.

Personally, the CELTA was a big boost to my confidence. I went from questioning my role as an educator to being able to conduct classes and corporate training sessions with relative ease and comfort. It helped me become more efficient, especially with students with little to no familiarity with English – which was something I had viewed as nearly impossible before the course. It helped me become more organized, giving my lessons (which had previously been improvised and, frankly, at times chaotic) some much needed structure and direction. Rather than throwing in random activities, I was clear about the types of activities and their use in the development of language. The CELTA allowed me to direct my creativity to make my activities both communicative and meaningful.

Where to next?

At the moment, I’m quite happy teaching in Bangalore, since my job exposes me to a variety of teaching contexts and challenges. I hope to eventually use my teaching certification to travel to different countries. There might be a bias for “native” English speakers – but with the CELTA and some relevant teaching experience, I do think that I’ll get more opportunities. So hopefully, in a few years, I’ll be posting pictures with my class in the Andes or Mexico City! 🙂

What advice would you give to teachers in India who’ve just completed the CELTA?

I’ll start with some useful advice I got from my CELTA trainers – start teaching as soon as possible. Regardless of salary, it’s necessary to use your skills in the real world immediately. This might be a bitter pill to swallow, especially if you’ve worked before and you’re accustomed to a fairly high salary. Chances are that when you’re done with the course, finding a well-paying job will be difficult. In my case, I spent 2 months at home, teaching English for free to a young boy. This allowed me to employ some of the CELTA methods and internalize them as part of my teaching approach.

Try to work with people who have done the CELTA – it helps if you’re working within the same framework. It also means that you don’t fall back into old teaching habits or forget the new skills and pedagogical framework you’ve acquired.

Use social media as much as possible, whether it’s to find out more about the ELT field or jobs. It helps to have a community of people who have a similar approach to teaching. On that note, keep in touch with the people who did the CELTA with you. I’ve gotten some great advice and support from my batch mates, whether it was celebrating when someone got a job or comparing approaches to working with learners.