There are 4 systems (Grammar, Pronunciation, Discourse, Lexis) and 4 skills (Reading, Listening, Speaking Writing), of which you must choose two systems and two skills to focus on over the course of your 4 LSAs (Language Systems/Skills Assignments).
My LSA 1 focused on raising awareness of medium-strength verb-noun and adjective-noun collocations for lower level learners. This falls squarely into systems: lexis.
Here is the reference list from my final submission. As you can see, at this point I hadn’t learnt how to correctly format a reference list, something that was picked up on in the feedback…
I got a pass for this essay. (Yay!)
- using sub-headings and sign-posts to make the structure clear
- narrowing the scope (by collocation type, strength and student level)
- consulted key texts for my focus and used them well
- my analysis, issues and solutions followed on well from each other.
- including both learning and teaching problems and referring to a range of learners was another plus, as was using terminology accurately and defining key terminology. My teaching suggestions included activities for raising awareness and activation, and were based on a range of resources, so there was good variety.
- as already mentioned, my reference list formatting was a little odd and also missing places of publication.
- in my writing, I used too many quotations, where paraphrasing would have been better. Paraphrase/summary is a much more efficient use of words than direct quotation, generally, something which is key when word limits are tight, and also allows much more ‘writer voice’/criticality to come through.
(This was an issue in my Module 3 essay too, initially, as it happens. It’s something I carried over from my B.A. days of yore so had to modify/work on it to succeed in the written components of the Delta. Having done so was a great help when it came to doing the M.A. modules the following semester.)
- Not enough reference to my own experience and interest in the area, make my analysis more in-depth by including examples, and try to target one issue per solution rather than having solutions that target various issues, as it became a bit too generic.
- Lack of my own voice/criticality (linking of course to the over-reliance on quotations and not drawing enough on my own experience…)
(It’s funny, these issues – voice, criticality, in-text citation/quotation/paraphrasing and referencing etc – that I had to work on are things that I am now helping my own students to develop and work on in their pre-M.A. studies! I must remember to mention to them that it was something that I initially struggled with too, as I am sure they think I was born knowing how to do it all!)
I got a pass for this lesson – just!
- The pronunciation analysis and use of phonemes in the language analysis section of the plan (though conversely my attention to meaning and form were identified as being in need of more work in terms of clarity!)
- I gave detailed information about the learners in my group (but it would have been better if I had included more information about their ability in the target language point)
- Good level of detail about how my lesson integrated with other lessons (timetable fit)
- Comprehensive and varied assumptions
- A nice clear main aim, which I managed to meet! (Having clear, appropriate aims and meeting them is a Good Thing.)
- My classroom management was generally effective and I listened/responded well to the students.
- I gave students some opportunity to correct themselves when they made errors, through use of techniques like gesture use (and was encouraged to do more of this!)
- My reflection generally identified strengths and weaknesses well
- My subsidiary aim was too vague, with the evidence I gave for meeting it being rather sketchy, and my stage aims also needed more work.
- The lesson suffered from there being a long teacher-fronted presentation stage, which ended up taking up the first half of the lesson, so the students didn’t have any opportunity for pair-work or group-work until then.
- I underestimated how long the presentation stage would take (links to above point but is a planning issue, while the above is a lack of student interaction issue that arose as a result of the underestimation)
- Explaining rather than using students as a resource to check form/meaning/pronunciation.
- Using unnatural intonation when speaking to the learners – apparently at times it seemed as though I was addressing a group of children. Oops.
- I also missed opportunities to use questions to check students’ understanding of language items.
- In my reflection, I underestimated one of the weaknesses I identified – the interaction issue that arose as a result of the overlong presentation stage
- my suggestions for how I would build on this lesson in future classes were a bit lacking in substance.
I suppose the question is, for a pass, are you doing enough right to balance out all the issues?! I wonder if anyone ever gets a distinction in LSA1 (if you did, hats off to you!!)? I suspect it is almost impossible… Happy to be proved wrong though!
At LSA1 stage, I think the key thing is to really get to grips with all the feedback you are given in all its forms. At Leeds (was Met) Beckett, we had draft feedback on LSA essay and lesson plans, and then we received the Delta 5a report after the LSA observation within an individual tutorial which gave us the opportunity to discuss the lesson and the feedback with the tutor who had observed us. That’s a lot of feedback/opportunities for learning. What all this feedback presents you with the main thing that sticks in my mind when I think of LSA 1: an almost vertical learning curve. It’s where you are tasked with getting your head around understanding exactly what an LSA is, involves and requires from start to finish. The challenge is then to take everything you learn from LSA1 and feed it directly into making the LSA2 process more successful and hopefully less painful. In other words, to develop the various skills – researching (including reading very selectively and efficiently, which is probably a skill in itself!), planning, teaching, reflecting – being checked on each time you do an LSA. So, rather than spending time thinking that the feedback isn’t fair, or that you should have got a pass/merit/distinction (delete as appropriate), focus on using it to be better next time. It’s hard having your teaching process pulled to pieces and dissected, but you can learn a lot from it too.
I hope this post is helpful to my readers who are doing their Delta Module 2 now or anybody who is planning to do Module 2 at some point.