CELTA Glossary

Below is a list of CELTA terminology that you can get to grips with if you want to be extra-prepared for the course, in no particular order and it features stages that should be in every TEFL lesson. 

Productive skills– These are the skills in which students are producing the target language through speaking and writing

Receptive skills– These are the skills in which students are imbibing the target language through reading and listening

TP– Teaching Practice

Setting the context– Before every lesson it is vital to ‘set the context’ to get sts interested in the topic. For example, when teaching a lesson on “used to do” (past state) I drew a character on the board and asked students to name her. I then told them what this character’s life used to be like before winning the lottery and saying “Before winning the lottery, Pochahuntus (they named her, not me!) used to live in a small flat, now she lives in a mansion.”

Realia– The visuals used to teach vocabulary, e.g. bringing in lots of fruit, veg, snacks to teach food names

Eliciting– Drawing the target language from the students. Tutors hate it when you tell students the answer instead of drawing the answer from them. This always seemed bizarre for me as how could you draw from students what you’re just about to teach?! But many of our students had had quite a few English classes before and often were familiar with the majority of our material. So for teaching sport vocabulary, instead of showing a picture of a football match and saying “Football”, I would ask the class what this was. If no one gave the right answer, then I can tell them, but you have to make them work for it.

Model– This is when you literally just say a word so students can hear the correct pronunciation and stress. You enunciate and ensure that they can hear where the stress goes.

Drill-Making students repeat the word or sentence you have just introduced. You should always drill chorally (everyone) and then individually, picking on random students to give you the pronunciation. So first in unison and then individual checks just to make sure everyone’s got it. Most of my coursemates and I didn’t get this until after halfway through TP’s so it might be a boost to your grades to slot it in from the beginning. Tutors were adamant about the chain of eliciting-modelling-drilling.

Flying with the fastest– In your class there will always be stronger students and weaker students and once the stronger students have gotten the answer or understood the question it is easy to just move on, but you shouldn’t! Just because the stronger ones are shouting out the answers doesn’t mean that everyone in the class has understood, which is you you need to “concept check” (literally check students have understood the concept” with Concept Questions…

Concept Questions-These check a student’s comprehension of a new word or piece of grammar. So if I was to concept check “I used to” I might say “I used to play tennis everyday,” I would ask the class, “Do I still play tennis now?” (no!) Its a way of making sure students have really understood what you’re teaching them. Concept questions are a bit harder than they sound and my coursemates and I sometimes got this wrong for various reasons. You’re not allowed to use the target language or grammar structure in the target sentence! Remember you’re checking their understanding so you have to rephrase it. Also ensure that your concept questions are not harder than the target language being taught. 

Sts– For some reason tutors had an obsession with abbreviating “students” to “sts” or even “ss”

Error corrections– You should not automatically correct students’ mistakes but should try and get them to correct each other. So if a student said to me during a past tense lesson, “I go to the shop”, I would say to the group they’re in or the class, “Is it ‘I go to the shop’ or…?” and usually someone else will supply me with the correct answer. We were told that when teachers correct students’ mistakes, they’re less likely to remember it then if they correct themselves or are corrected by their peers. Sometimes I would also try and get them to correct themselves, so if we were conjugating verbs in the past tense I would have the “I, you, he/she/it” structure written on the board and if they said, “I go to the shop” I could point at the board and indicate that they need to change their answer and usually they will correct themselves. This follows the Chinese proverb, “Tell me and I’ll forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” 


6 thoughts on “CELTA Glossary

  1. You are a very clever individual!

  2. I’m about to embark on the CELTA course and all your comments have helped enormously. Having read a number of other comments online I was beginning to get quite stressed about whether I’d made the right decision to do it, but your advice, while reaffirming the intensity of the course, at least allows me to know what to expect. Many thanks for posting.

  3. Very useful insight. Could you please guide me on how to write/ what to add in a pre-CELTA essay?

    • Hopefully this comment isn’t coming too late, but in my pre-course essay I just wrote about my future plans for teaching in Italy and how my undergraduate course would contribute to the CELTA.

  4. ourknotstorydra

    Hi, I’m currently into my 4th week of CELTA..that’s the halway mark. Managed to pass 3 ZTPs and the first assignment without a resub. Thank god! But my 2nd assignment is on LRT and I am cluless! Wondering if you can help me out here, please.

    • Unfortunately, I´ve come across your comment too late BUT I will be writing blog posts on coursework and how to format them correctly for future readers. Sorry this comment isn´t much help!

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