CELTA Anticipated Problems: How to find problem words quickly and easily

celta anticipated problems_vocabulary_flickr_creative_commons
Credit: Deb Stgo on Flickr (Creative Commons)

One issue with using texts and other sources in a CELTA lesson, or an EFL lesson for that matter, is finding problems for learners in advance.

Throughout your CELTA, ‘Anticipated Problems’ will be a familiar phrase for you.

This phrase shows up in lesson plans and is part of what your CELTA course is all about; predicting and responding to learner needs.

CELTA: Anticipated Problems with Vocabulary

Before giving a text to students, you want to be sure it is written at the right level for them.

You also want to check that any difficult words are either taught before they go through the text or prepared so that you can answer questions on them.

For this, there is a very simple solution.

Say hello to Vocab Kitchen’s vocabulary profiler. It is based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), an official system for putting languages into levels of difficulty.

Now, this vocabulary profiler does all the hard work for you, as you will see in the steps below. Simply follow each step and marvel at the beauty of technology!

How to check for anticipated vocabulary problems

So, once you are at the Vocab Kitchen CEFR Profiler page, enter the text or words you want to check.

Click ‘search’.

celta_anticipated_problems_vocabulary
Paste your text or words, then click ‘Search’

 

Then, you will see a multi-coloured version of the text, with each colour corresponding to the CEFR key above.

How to use the anticipated problem words in your CELTA lesson

CELTA_anticipated_problems_vocabulary
This example was taken from a news article from  The Independent’s website here

 

As you can see, the highest level here is in red, which corresponds to a B2 level of English, or Upper Intermediate.

The following words are therefore words which you should cover in a CELTA ‘anticipated problems’ section of a lesson plan.

The words from this example which you should expect students below this level to have trouble with are as follows:

  • ultimate
  • revolution
  • gently
  • melt
  • encountering

Knowing this, you can then prepare for them in advance.

My usual activities would be something like a vocab matching task, such as the following:

 

Word  Meaning
1) melt a) to go through a change or process very quickly
 2) revolution b) ice does this when you put it in your drink
 3) gently c) to move in a soft or slow way

 

The great thing is, you can be sure that those words are ones lower students will struggle with so you can identify them in advance.

Other things you can do with the vocabulary profiler

You can also view the vocabulary in lists according to their level (see image below).

From the whole text, it actually found some C1 words which are an even higher level. It would be a good idea to prepare students for these!

CELTA_anticipated_problems_with_vocabulary

 

Another thing you can do is sort the words in each column by the frequency (i.e. amount of times) with which they appear.

For instance, the word ‘a’  is used 47 times! The word ‘locally’ is the highest level word used more than once (B2) and is used 3 times.

This should also help you to check if the text is the appropriate level for your students.

Now your turn!

So, before your next (or first!) lesson, try putting a text into the vocabulary profiler mentioned above.

It should help you on the CELTA; anticipated problems should also be easier to identify in advance.

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