English teacher
Teacher Trainer
Lifelong Language Learner

Second Live Observation Lesson for my 100% online Celta (5 May 2020)

This was my first time teaching our Elementary learners on Zhumu and the second time teaching a group of English learners using the software. It was much better!

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Where is the video?

If you can’t see the video, you can find it here on Youku.

Why record the lesson if it’s supposed to be a “live observation?”

This video was meant to be a “live” observation lesson on my Celta course. After teaching the first live observation lesson on the previous day, I realized that the trainees couldn’t see my screen and they weren’t privy to the same information as me. It’s probably best to record the screen of a live online lesson from the teacher’s perspective, then the trainees observe the recording. That way, they can see how I’m organizing (or not!) my files and preparing the breakout rooms. When I look at the recordings that Zoom or Zhumu make of a lesson using the record function, I don’t see enough information to be helpful for teaching purposes. I used Snagit2020 to record my screen.

If you’re interested in Snagit, you can visit the site here. There should be a free trial option if you click on “Products” at the top.  

About the Lesson: Elementary Listening

This was the second time the tutor used the application Zhumu during a 100% online Celta. This lesson follows a traditional listening lesson with the following stages: lead-in, pre-teach vocabulary, listening for gist, listening for details, and a follow-on speaking activity. This was the first time these students had used the Zhumu program. As you can see, it looks much like Zoom and has breakout rooms. Some students were still unsure about the technology after spending about 18 minutes helping them get familiar with some of the functions before this lesson recording.

There were two major difficulties in this lesson that were not anticipated.

Unanticipated Difficulty 1: I was unable to send my Word docs to the students because I think my documents were in “the cloud.” This was problematic for the listening questions and for the handout to prepare for speaking. I worked around this by sending the questions into the chat box and by sharing my screen with them and having them prepare for speaking quietly while we were still in the main session.

Unanticipated difficulty 2: Once students were into the breakout rooms and sharing answers for the listening, I realized they really needed to listen again. Setting up breakout rooms and stopping them requires more time than it would with group work in a f2f setting. The students need to be trained how to play an audio file (by sharing their screens and ticking the box to share the computer audio). I helped one student (Sammy) do this in the lesson to help one group. I went to the other group to offer support and played the audio for them. But later I found out that Sammy lost her connection and was no longer in the lesson. I did well to make sure there are at least 3 students in a breakout room, but it would probably be better to simply play the audio twice. It would be better to not use peer checking on a listening unless the students know how to share their audio and listen together. As peer checking is something we really encourage trainees to do, it would be better to simply do some more learner training and allow for this on a Celta timetable (or before the course starts).

Final thoughts

I think the trainees are going to leave the course with much more than a Celta Certificate. Teaching online and doing it well appears to not only require familiarity and skills with the same principles that we hope trainees learn on a more traditional F2F Celta, but once everyone is familiar with the web conferencing software, there seems to be much more potential for student centered activities and collaboration. We’ve already experimented with this on Padlet. Today’s lesson was not the best I’ve taught, but it was significantly better than yesterday’s.


The audio and the [adapted questions] are taken from: Dellar, H., Walkley, A., Maggs, P., & Smith, C. (2012). Outcomes: Elementary. Hampshire: Heinle, Cengage Learning.

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