Number one for English language teachers

Introduction to TKT

This introduction to the TKT is a brief overview, describing the aims, modules and task types in the test. It talks about the skills you need to pass the exams and is useful both for teachers who are TKT candidates and for their trainers.

Key components of the TKT

  • Test structure: 3 core modules and 2 further specialist modules (CLIL and Young Learners)
  • Timing and number of questions: Each module takes 1 hour 20 minutes and consists of 80 objective questions (questions with correct or incorrect answers, rather than, for example, essays that are evaluated subjectively by examiners)
  • Question groupings: Questions are grouped into tasks within each module
  • Marks: 1 mark is available for each question
  • Question types: Multiple-choice and matching questions
  • Paper-based or computer-based: Paper-based

For more information, see: www.cambridgeenglish.org/teaching-english/teaching-qualifications/tkt

Module 1: Language and background to language learning and teaching

Module 1 is divided up into three parts: Describing language and language skills, Background to language learning and Background to language teaching.

Describing language and language skills

What is covered?

Concepts and terminology for describing language: grammar, lexis, phonology and functions. Concepts and terminology for describing language skills and sub-skills: for example, reading for gist, listening for specific information.

What might I have to do?

There are six tasks consisting of 40 questions. You might have to read a short text in which various words would be underlined. Working from a list, you would have to identify their correct part of speech: for example, reflexive pronoun, possessive adjective, etc. (Note: This is just an example of a possible task.)

What do I have to know about?

  • reading, writing, speaking and listening and their subskills
  • features of spoken and written texts
  • parts of speech
  • the forms and use of grammatical structures
  • types of meaning
  • word formation
  • word groupings
  • register
  • International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbols
  • phonemes, word/sentence stress, intonation and connected speech
  • context
  • levels of formality
  • appropriacy

Background to language learning

What is covered?

Factors in the language-learning process, including:

  • motivation
  • exposure to language and focus on form
  • the role of error
  • the differences between L1 and L2 learning
  • learner characteristics (for example, strategies, learning styles and past learning experience)
  • learner needs

What might I have to do?

There are three tasks consisting of 15 questions. You might have to read a list of students’ actions and also a list of learning strategies. You would then decide which action matched which strategy. (Note: This is just an example of a possible task.)

What do I have to know about?

You need to know about the range of different factors that can affect how learners learn. You also need to be able to identify examples of these factors and to relate them to their implications for teachers and teaching.

Background to language teaching

What is covered?

The range of methods, tasks, activities and terminology available to the language teacher, including:

  • presentation techniques and introductory activities
  • practice activities and tasks for language and skills development
  • assessment types and tasks

What might I have to do?

There are four tasks consisting of 25 questions. You might have to look at a series of practice activities a teacher gave students to do. There would be three possible categories that these activities could fit into. You would have to say which category each practice activity fitted into. (Note: This is just an example of a possible task.)

What do I have to know about?

You need to know about the range of ways a teacher can set about teaching language to learners. You need to be able to say what techniques and resources are appropriate in different situations. You need to be able to identify and distinguish between different types of assessment and assessment activity. These can include:

  • introductory activities (e.g. warmers, lead-ins)
  • common ways of presenting language
  • the design and purpose of a range of common comprehension and production tasks and activities
  • teaching terms
  • frameworks for activities and tasks (Present-Practice-Produce, Task-Based Learning, Total Physical Response, the Lexical Approach, Grammar-Translation, Test-Teach-Test, guided discovery)
  • purposes for assessment (e.g. diagnostic, placement, achievement, formative, progress, proficiency)
  • methods of assessment (e.g. self, peer, portfolio, formal, informal)
  • the design and purpose of a range of tasks and activities

Module 2: Lesson planning and use of resources for language teaching

Module 2 is divided into two parts: Planning and preparing a lesson or sequence of lessons and Selection and use of resources.

Planning and preparing a lesson or sequence of lessons

What is covered?

Lesson planning, including:

  • identifying and choosing aims suitable for the learners and the situation
  • planning a lesson or series of lessons by organizing appropriate activities
  • choosing suitable assessment activities

What might I have to do?

There are six tasks consisting of 40 questions. You might have to answer a series of multiple-choice questions. Each one would describe a classroom activity and then list three possible aims when using this activity. You would then decide which of the three possible aims was not appropriate. (Note: This is just an example of a possible task.)

What do I have to know about?

You need to know how to plan your teaching. You need to have a good understanding of how aims and activities relate to each other. You need to be able to show you understand how to put activities into lessons or lessons into a sequence. You need to know about the purposes of assessment activities.

Selection and use of resources

What is covered?

Consulting reference resources when planning lessons, including:

  • coursebook materials
  • teaching aids
  • supplementary materials

What might I have to do?

There are six tasks consisting of 40 questions. You might have a jumbled list of stages from a coursebook unit. You would then have to put the stages into the correct order to make a logical whole lesson plan. (Note: This is just an example of a possible task.)

What do I have to know about?

You need to know something about the sorts of materials and resources that are generally available and why they are used. You need to understand how to plan to use and adapt them effectively in teaching.

Module 3: Managing the teaching and learning process

Module 3 is also divded into two parts: Teachers' and learners' language in the classroom and Classroom management.

Teachers’ and learners’ language in the classroom

What is covered?

  • sequencing of instructions
  • the appropriate use of language by teachers, including: instructing, prompting learners, eliciting, explaining
  • functions of learners’ language
  • categorizing learners’ mistakes

What might I have to do?

There are six tasks consisting of 40 questions. You might have a list of things teachers have said in class. You would have to match these things to a list of possible purposes for a teacher speaking at a certain point in class. (Note: This is just an example of a possible task.)

What do I have to know about?

You have to understand what affects the way teachers need to use language in the classroom. You have to be able to identify appropriate ways of using language. You need to understand what can be understood from the ways learners use language in the classroom. You need to know how you can give feedback to students.

Classroom management

What is covered?

The various ways in which teachers can manage learners and learning environments appropriately, including:

  • teacher roles
  • grouping learners
  • correcting learners
  • providing feedback

What might I have to do?

There are 6 tasks consisting of 40 questions. You might have a list of situations in which students need feedback. You would have to match these with various ways of providing feedback according to the context. (Note: This is just an example of a possible task.)

What do I have to know about?

You need to know about the range of ways a teacher can use to manage classes in relation to the students’ level and the aims, and the concepts and terminology related to these. You need to understand how and why teachers can vary the groupings, pace, language level, etc that they use. You need to understand appropriate ways of telling students about their progress and how to improve.

Points to note about TKT

It does ...

  • expect you to have a reasonable knowledge of the general kinds of materials and resources that are commonly available in many or most general English language teaching situations
  • look closely at ways of going about the professional practice of teaching
  • expect you to be able to distinguish between what is effective and what is not, and to see the reasoning behind teaching activity
  • expect you to have an understanding of common teaching concepts and terminology

It doesn't ...

  • test knowledge of particular books or resources
  • test beliefs or values about teaching
  • assume that a certain style is better than others

Trainers

TKT tests what it says it tests: knowledge.

Of course, someone could get top marks in TKT and be a poor teacher in practice. There are many aspects of teaching – personality, attitudes, dynamics, a whole range of contextual and motivational factors including socio-economics – that are not reflected in the test. Because of this, in no way should TKT be seen as a teaching qualification in itself.

However, it is a very useful indication of the range of knowledge and understanding that a teacher requires. So, it is perhaps true that someone who got a poor mark in TKT would be unlikely to be a great teacher.

What is definitely helpful for the teacher trainer is the comprehensive nature of the TKT syllabus. Most trainers would probably not wish to train directly according to the syllabus, but it can be used as a guide or reference tool – almost perhaps a checklist – when constructing your own courses.

Because TKT is carefully pitched at an accessible level of English, it can be helpful for trainers, as it gives a model of how complex concepts and techniques can be dealt with in relatively straightforward ways. The actual training can always be done in English. 

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Readers' comments (4)

  • Hello Bath Academy,

    Thank you very much for informing us about this issue. We have taken out the broken links.

    Best wishes and happy teaching,

    The onestopenglish team

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  • All the links are broken - will they be fixed?

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  • Hi Rawand,

    Thanks for your feedback. Did you have a chance to look through the materials here:

    http://www.onestopenglish.com/exams/cambridge-esol-exams/tkt/tkt-materials/

    Best wishes,
    The onestopenglish team

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  • The website does not provide sufficient materials for teacher trainers to use as input.

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