top of page

CELTA Assessment Criteria Explained: Criterion 2A

As part of our ongoing series on CELTA assessment criteria, we are looking today at criterion 2A, more commonly known as language grading.

Criterion description: adjusting their own use of language in the classroom according to the learner group and the context

Subheading: Topic 2 Language Analysis and Awareness

Assessment Objects: Classroom practice; lesson materials.

This criterion is commonly known as language grading, and it is one of the most important, and therefore heavily weighted, assessment criteria. This is partly because it has an impact on a number of other criteria for assessment—in other words, if you get this wrong, you’re probably getting a lot of other things wrong as well.

Good Teacher Talk

A common misconception about communicative language teaching is that the teacher should talk as little as possible. Rather, it is important that the teacher talk usefully. The one thing that most effectively renders teacher talk useless is when students don’t understand what the teacher is saying.

When you consider that EFL students’ language abilities are, by definition, weak, it is easy to understand that, absent an effort on the part of the teacher, it is highly probable that students, especially lower level ones, will have trouble understanding what the teacher is saying.

What is Language Grading?

As with so many things in life, language grading can be divided into three main components:

·       Speed. Speaking fast increases the difficulty level of what you are saying.

·       Complexity. The more difficult the language you use, the more complex the sentences, the less common the vocabulary, the harder it will be for your students to understand you.

·       Quantity. The more you speak, the more language the student has to process, and the more likely it is that the student will fall behind as they try to cope with the amount of language being thrown at them.

Tips to Improve Language Grading

And, as with so many things in life, there are three main things you can do to improve your language grading.

·       Speak more slowly, and enunciate. Pronounce words clearly and succinctly, but be careful not to sound patronizing or condescending. Most importantly, make sure that your intonation and stress patterns remain the same as when speaking normally; if you find yourself over-stressing the wrong syllables or mis-pronouncing phonemes as a result of slowing things down, you will be presenting flawed language models—something you want to avoid (criteria 2D).

·       Plan your instructions, task demonstrations, and anecdotes in advance. Double-check your concept-checking questions to be sure the language used therein is appropriate to the level of the learners. Changing the complexity of one’s language is actually extraordinarily difficult at first, so when planning your lesson, think about—note down—the language you will be using with your students, and review it to make sure that it is appropriately graded to their level. This includes both written (see below) and spoken language.

·       Spontaneous interactions with your students are important, but make sure to limit their frequency and length. A smile and a few words will do more for rapport than a lengthy, highly personalized anecdote of which every other word might be difficult for them to comprehend.

Common Pitfalls: A Complicated Match

So far, our discussion of this assessment criterion has been based on oral interactions between teachers and students. An equally vital area in which this criterion applies is in written interactions. These include:

·       Instructions on worksheets

·       Board writing

·       Self-developed tasks (in particular matching tasks—see below)

·       Quizzes

Of the above, the most common error made by CELTA candidates is the grading of matching tasks. Often, trainee teachers use dictionary definitions or else write definitions that are just as difficult, or even more difficult to understand than the language being clarified.

EFA's policy is to maintain transparency and clear communication about all aspects of the course at all times. Contact us for information about our teacher training courses, either online or in Morocco. or +212 680 542220


Subscribe to our blog to read more about the Cambridge CELTA assessment criteria.



bottom of page