Pre- and post-CELTA editing05-Dec-2011
If I compare the pre-CELTA era of my working life with the post-CELTA period, I can’t say that there have been huge changes or innovations. The main effect of the CELTA experience was that it strengthened my belief that MEC is an amazing source for teaching materials (as is onestopenglish) and confirmed that the MEC approach to the exercises and lesson plans I have been working on was consistent with what was taught on the course. However, there were three areas where my perspective changed slightly.
One of my jobs as an editor is to select images to go with news items and with any other exercises I’m working on. I used to think of these images mainly as illustrations and looked for something that would represent the main topic of the exercise. The images were mainly there to make working on MEC more fun and more interesting for the students. After my CELTA, I started thinking of these images more as an opportunity for the teachers, who could use them as quick warmers for the exercises.
Another area where my perception changed was the Food for thought questions for the news items. I’d thought of them more from a student’s perspective before, i.e. what questions I would like to discuss if I was working with this text in class. Now, I think even more of the teachers and how they need to accommodate different interests so I try to come up with inclusive Food for thought questions, hoping that each student will have something to say about at least one of the questions.
In CELTA teaching, a lot of emphasis is placed on clear instructions and having observed during the course how slight alterations in the instructions can have a huge effect on students, I now pay even more attention to the MEC rubrics. Of course, during the CELTA, you’re trained to ask instruction checking questions and you don’t have this tool on MEC. Neither can you see the students or hear the questions they might ask when looking at an exercise for the first time. But I try to go through these scenarios in my head and think about all the clarifications a student might need. Any extra help that I think might be useful goes in the hint text.
All in all I wouldn’t say that the outcome of my editing has changed too much but my perspective definitely has. Where I used to focus on a student sitting in front of the screen, I now have a broader image at the forefront of my mind, that of a classroom and a teacher who is trying to get the students to engage with the exercise.
My most important CELTA ‘revelation’ was that MEC is the way to go! I realised that the same activity types that form the majority on MEC were the favourites of coursebooks, teachers, tutors and students alike throughout the course. And they work well! Also, the tutors kept talking about ‘lifting exercises off the page’, which is exactly what MEC does!