Diary of a London CELTA-girl


Week Two

MEC Commissioning Editor and recent CELTA graduate, Jenny Lovel, writes:

‘I start week two feeling quite tired, having spent the weekend at the IATEFL conference in Aberdeen. In the interview for my CELTA course I was asked if I had any social events planned that would prevent me from doing my coursework. Instead of being honest about the conference, I said that I didn’t have any plans for the whole month. Consequently, sneaking up to IATEFL seems like having an affair and carrying textbooks in my conference bag like telltale lipstick on a collar. But at IATEFL I realise how much I’ve learnt in a week and feel heartened that the hard work I’m putting in is paying off.

Jenny’s class at IH London

In contrast to the first week, in week two we have to submit lesson plans for assessment. These have to detail learning objectives, stage aims, timing, analysis of target language and even a whiteboard plan. Confident the plan shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours, I spend most of the evening combing magazines for photographs to illustrate my lesson on lexis for special occasions. When I’ve stuck pictures of happy couples, birthday presents and glasses of champagne to clashing pieces of cardboard I turn to the lesson plan. Fast-forward five hours and I’m still writing. The plans are unbelievably time-consuming, and need revising constantly. Working out the timing of each stage of the lesson requires military precision and yet it’s hard to know how long the students will need. I don’t want to be left twiddling my thumbs for ten minutes at the end of the lesson making small-talk and yet I similarly don’t want to have to finish mid-activity.

Planning is a nightmare and I’m starting to have a newfound respect for teachers. In my lesson observations I realise, with a mix of envy and despair, how easy they make it look. The lessons are relaxed, the teachers have good rapport with the students, there are clear aims and, perhaps most importantly, at no point does the teacher look at his or her watch, mutter an expletive and start cantering towards the end of the lesson leaving the students behind. I learn a great deal from watching these experienced teachers and find this aspect of the course invaluable.

As the weekend approaches I start counting down the hours to my well-deserved lie-in and vow to have Saturday off. It’s the end of week two.’

Does this bring back memories for you? Do you remember your first ever lesson? How much time do you spend planning these days? Leave a comment.


  • Hi Jenny!
    Your two postings about the CELTA course made me smile – and took me back to when I did an IH course years ago.
    Sleepless nights cutting out and mounting magazine pictures. Agonising over the lesson planning which, as you said, takes forever. Trying to calculate how many seconds/minutes it would take to play some audio – attach said pictures to the board – correct…. and remember to smile!

    Seriously, I absolutely agree with what you said about lesson observation. I think you learn so much about the complex human interaction that’s going on – something you can never get from a book.
    I must have watched hundreds and I still enjoy it and feel I learn things – all human nature is exposed!

    I’m looking forward to reading about Week 3.


    Posted by Susan Holden on June 04th 2007

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