Concorso oral exam: frequent questions, answers and suggestions

Preparing for the oral exam of the concorso docenti 2024?

As you know, the exam for AB24, AB25 and BB02 will consist of:

Maybe you’ve taken some of our courses, maybe you’ve been preparing for a while, or maybe you’ve just started out.

In any of these circumstances, having doubts and questionsis perfectly normal!

I get questions from teachers every day, so here are some of the most common ones, with practical suggestions.

The starting point is that each teacher will find different approaches useful. My feeling is that if you find the idea of a lesson structure useful, you should try to create a couple of sample lessons with the structures you like. For example, if you choose ESA, you’ll think of a few options for each stage in the lesson that you can then try to adapt when you get the traccia.

Of course you will bear in mind that different structures may adapt better or worse to different topics and part of your preparation might go out of the window depending on the topic you get (like a really unusual or niche one – though fingers crossed you won’t get these!) For example, you can bear in mind that a PPP structure lends itself more to a language (grammar, lexis) topic than a content one (history, literature, culture). Vice versa, you will know that creating a CBI or TBL lesson will work especially well for tracce based on functions, real life tasks or “content” topics like history or culture.

Your assessment will depend on your aims and on your procedures, so I don’t think you can do that one without having at least a clue of what you’re actually going to do in the lesson. What you can do, however, is try to write assessment rubrics or establish which forms of assessment you would use for your hypothetical ESA or TBL or CBI or whatever other structure.

First of all, you need to practise writing lesson aims well. Your lesson aims should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based. See what I mean here.

You should also practise how to phrase your lesson aims. Your aims will refer to knowledge and skills. Ask yourself the question: by the end of the lesson(s), what will your students know and be able to do? Phrase your aims accordingly: “by the end of the lesson, students will know/be familiar with…”; “by the end of the lesson, students will be able to…” Read a few CEFR descriptors to get ideas.

By referring to this extensive guide I wrote about this topic.

I am not aware of an official English translation of the Indicazioni nazionali. Technically speaking, the Indicazioni nazionali are laws or parts of laws in Italy, so they’re in Italian. In your presentation, you can either provide short extracts from the Indicazioni in Italian and translate them into English as you speak, provide an English translation in writing or provide both versions in writing. Just be careful not to overcrowd your slides with lots of text and make sure that your examiners know what you’re referring to (which can be more difficult if you only provide the English translation in writing).

The 4 approaches are there to guide you and help you consider 4 angles through which you can develop your lesson plan. You don’t necessarily have to use all of them but it’s good to consider activities that tackle the 4 approaches. The various activities you do can easily fit in an ESA lesson plan. You don’t need to mention explicitly that you’re dealing with one approach or another but you are welcome to explain this as part of the rationale for your lesson plan.

An excellent question, though it can’t be answered to my satisfaction. Some committees are unfortunately known for favouring more traditional teaching methods and lesson structures. These include PPP, using coursebooks, basing the lesson on grammar or lexis aims and so on. This should almost never be interpreted as the right thing to do in real life teaching; nevertheless, you will need to be cynical to pass this oral exam and somewhat conform to the committee’s expectations. This is why the best thing you can do is find out about their expectations and preferences as soon as they start examining.

In short: prepare. The more and the better you can prepare your presentation and your answers to the domande disciplinari before the exam, the more confident you will be. Confidence boosts both speaking accuracy and fluency. It will also help you keep your anxiety at bay, which is important because anxiety deprives you of crucial attentional capacity you need to devote to your exam. English proficiency counts for 30 out of 100 points at this exam, so it’s a pretty important area to improve.

Practise presenting a sample lesson plan. Time yourself for 22 minutes and record yourself. Then, listen back to your presentation (dreadful, I know, but an incredibly useful exercise): what did you do well? What can you improve? Re-do your presentation and improve it. Get a colleague you trust to help you review it. Join one of our conversation classes for AB24, AB25, BB02 (these will also help you revise the programma, so it’s a win win) or one of our B2 conversation classes for all the other classi di concorso.

As a general rule of thumb, the more specific you can be, the better. As you know, there are no official rules for what you have to include in your presentations, so the committee may be fine even with a presentation without references. However, they might not be. To be on the safe side, if you are using a YouTube video or flashcards, it’s good practice to add a reference to them. This can be done in the slide presenting them or in a final slide with a list of references. It is also good to visually present these things because it gives your examiners a tangible flavour of what you’re doing. So, screenshots of the YouTube videos, pictures of exercises, flashcards, screenshots of Quizlet or any other websites, etc: all of these things give your examiners a real taste of what you’re doing and will likely help them follow you better.

Yes, we have both! Here is a PowerPoint template:

And here is a sample lesson plan:

You will find loads of other examples connected to various lesson structures in our recorded webinar course.

No rule of thumb here either: use whatever you are comfortable with. Make sure your presentation is visually appealing, not overloaded with text in any slide, clear and easy to explain. The content should of course be valued more highly than the form, but a) you are technically also assessed on your ICT skills and b) people will naturally be drawn more towards visually appealing and clear slides. This is an innate kind of bias we all have, so make sure you prepare the layout of your slides in advance. Also, export your presentation in pdf format to make sure it’s readable on whatever computer you are given on your exam. Pdf will ensure that the formatting is kept intact.

And last but not least…

Have faith, you got this!

Good luck, dear teacher 🍀

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