How to pass your Trinity CertTESOL external moderation

This article explains how to pass your Trinity CertTESOL external moderation. Trinity CertTESOL external moderation is not like CELTA external moderation because CELTA moderation does not form part of your grade.

CELTA external moderation is a passive check that your work is to standard. Trinity CertTESOL external moderation is an active check that you are good enough to pass and that your coursework meets Trinity CertTESOL standards.

The role of the Trinity CertTESOL external moderator

The Trinity CertTESOL external moderator (TCE moderator) spot-checks your coursework and grades you for one of the five course units.

Trinity College London contracts the moderator to independently moderate the grades and scores awarded to Trinity CertTESOL trainees and grade Unit 4 – Materials assignment. The moderator also assists Trinity College London in its quality assurance of how the course was run and the performance of the course provider.

Unit 4 – Materials assignment covers the production, adaptation, use and evaluation of simple classroom teaching materials and concept checking tasks. You must show that you used the materials you made in your teaching practice lessons. The TCE moderator assesses your Unit 4 work, interviews you about it and decides whether you passed or failed the unit. Your course provider has no say about the TCE moderator’s decision.

For this reason, you must take extra care getting prepared for Trinity CertTESOL external moderation, especially passing the Unit 4 – Materials assignment.

A special note for non-native English speakers

Your Trinity CertTESOL course provider bases part of your initial CertTESOL course acceptance on the handwritten assignment you submit during the course place application process. The course provider relies on your honesty. When you get externally moderated, you can fail if the TCE moderator decides that your English level is not good enough for an English teacher. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you take the handwritten test very seriously and do not cheat or get someone else to write it for you.

Trinity CertTESOL external moderation of your Unit 4 assignment

The TCE moderator arrives on the last day of your course. The TCE moderator spot-checks your written assignments and gives you your Unit 4 – Materials assignment grade.

Your written work must be quality. The TCE moderator will see your level of written English, and the TCE moderator will talk to you. The TCE moderator can fail you if your English is weak.

Making a winning Unit 4 – Materials assignment

The materials assignment tests your ability to plan, produce, use and evaluate basic classroom teaching material based on the material you have used during teaching practice.

You create and use your teaching material in one of your teaching practice classes and then write a rationale and evaluation of the effectiveness of your teaching material.

The final part of Unit 4 -Materials assignment is a one-on-one interview with the TCE moderator where you must reflect on and discuss the use of your teaching material.

The TCE moderator gives your Unit 4 – Materials assignment grade. To pass Unit 4, you must score at least 14 out of 24 on a graded marking scale.

You do this assignment individually. You can share ideas and experiences with your classmates, but what you create must be your work.

Your course trainer:

  1. provides support and guidance
  2. tells you about the assessment criteria
  3. allows you to rehearse your moderator interview
  4. gives you constructive feedback

Unit 4 – Materials assignment structure

There are three components (details below):

  1. Creating and using your teaching material
  2. Writing up your results that reflect on why you created your teaching material and how effective it was
  3. A one-on-one interview with the TCE moderator who will review your teaching material, judge your performance and give you your Unit 4 grade

Creating and using your material

The teaching material you use must be linked to one of your teaching practice tasks. You must build it into one of your observed and assessed lesson plans and use it during the lesson.

The teaching material you use must be unique. You cannot re-use the teaching material you used in other lessons.

The use of new material

You can create new teaching material. How you make it is your choice as long as the final product can be used as input for components 2 and 3 listed above.

The use of existing material

You can use existing teaching material, but you must demonstrate imaginative and significant adaptation and use of the existing teaching material. In addition, you have to show that you have extended the existing teaching material beyond what was initially suggested by the teaching material’s guidelines. Finally, if you use existing teaching material, you must cite and acknowledge the source.

We recommend that your choice of existing teaching material should be limited to:

  1. any teaching material you have used before that worked well but can be further adapted and improved
  2. teaching material that was not a success in a previous lesson but contributed significantly to your ELLs’ learning

The written assignment

Your written assignment comprises:

  1. Rationale
  2. Evaluation


Your rationale explains why you developed the teaching material for your ELLs that you thought would help achieve your lesson’s objectives.

The rationale must include:

  1. Information about your class
  2. What you expect to achieve from a linguistics perspective (linguistic aims)
  3. Your objectives for your ELLs language development (linguistic aims)
  4. What you expect your ELLs to achieve (anticipated achievements)
  5. The difficulties that may arise when your ELLs use your teaching material and how you will address them if they arise (anticipated achievements)

Your anticipated linguistic aim is the language area or skill you will work on and how you will deliver. For example, new language, structures, functions, semantics, etc. You must take the learning exercise further than just conversation practice.

Your anticipated achievements cover linguistic issues like your ELLs current knowledge and skills, pronunciation challenges, organising your ELLs in groups, motivation, etc.


The evaluation section explains how you used your teaching material in the classroom and its effectiveness. In addition, the evaluation must give reasons for the success (or lack of) of the materials. This section must also explain any improvements for using the teaching material with similar learner levels without changing the learning objectives.

Assessment interview with the TCE moderator

The assessment interview focuses on

  1. your rationale and evaluation
  2. your ELLs and their needs.

Your assessment covers:

  1. the suitability of your teaching material for your ELLs’ needs and motivation
  2. any problems you had during the lesson
  3. how you dealt with the problems
  4. how your ELLs responded to your teaching material
  5. how you can improve the teaching material for future use
  6. An appraisal of:
    1. How you selected and made your teaching material
    2. How you could teach using teaching material from other sources

Your Trinity CertTESOL external moderation interview with the TCE moderator lasts for 15 minutes. The TCE moderator reads your rationale and evaluation and then spends about 10 minutes asking you questions based on the 24 points shown in the next section.

Unit 4 assessment criteria

The table below shows you the 24 TCE moderator question points. The 24 points have a light-orange background. You get 1 point for an acceptable answer. You must score at least 14 points to pass Unit 4.

IMPORTANT: Of all five units in the Trinity CertTESOL course, Unit 4 is the one that you are more likely to fail. Make sure that you are well prepared for the Unit 4 interview.

Your course provider should have time scheduled to help you prepare for your Unit 4 interview.

Assessment criteria table from the Trinity CertTESOL syllabus page 24

  Criterion To obtain a pass, trainees must get 14 out of a possible 24 marks
  The trainee can: One mark per criterion One mark per criterion
Written communication skills Identify a linguistic purpose and specific objectives Identification of a linguistic purpose Identification of specific objectives
Explain how the materials were appropriate to the ELLs’ linguistic needs Identification of the class needs Explanation of how the materials met the class needs
Identify potential difficulties of the materials for the ELLs and solutions for dealing with them Identification of potential difficulties Identification of potential solutions
Discuss effectively how the materials were used in the classroom Discussion of ELL groupings used Discussion of the broader context of using the materials in the lesson, e.g. stages of the lesson
Evaluate the success of the materials Reasons for the success (or not) of the materials Indication of how the conclusion was reached
Suggest how the materials might be improved Suggestion(s) on how the materials might be improved in terms of relevancy to the linguistic needs of the ELLs Suggestion(s) of how the materials might be improved in terms of their design and presentation
Oral communication skills Discuss the suitability of the materials both in terms of needs and motivation for the ELLs Discussion of the suitability of the materials in terms of ELL needs Discussion of the suitability of the materials in terms of ELL motivation
Discuss what problems arose from the materials and how these were dealt with Discussion of the problems that arose Discussion of the solutions to these problems
discuss how the ELLs responded to the materials and why you thought this was the case Discussion of the ELLs’ response to the materials Reason(s) why the learners responded in this way
Discuss what the learning outcomes were from the materials and how the materials might be improved Discussion of the learning outcomes Discussion of the potential improvements to the materials
Demonstrate what you learnt about the selection and production of English language teaching materials Discussion of the point(s) made about the choice of materials Discussion of the point(s) made about the production of materials
Demonstrate what you learnt about teaching English using materials from different sources Example(s) of what you learnt Justification for why using self-generated materials is beneficial


Your interview is recorded. If you do not want to be recorded, you cannot be interviewed, and you will fail Unit 4.

Professional awareness and development

The TCE moderator will also look for your abilities in the following “soft skills”:

  1. Reacting to the needs of your classmates and colleagues
  2. Understanding the value of mutual support and teamwork
  3. Appreciating the need for personal development throughout the course
  4. Taking a constructive attitude to training input and feedback from your trainer(s), classmates and ELLs

Your awareness of these critical points is assessed based on your:

  1. willingness to attend when required
  2. ability to complete all assignments
  3. ability to deliver your coursework to schedule
  4. contribution to course activities
  5. willingness to respect input from others
  6. willingness to respect your ELLs’ contributions during your practice classes
  7. willingness to respect the admin staff
  8. ability and desire to take accept and positively react to performance feedback
  9. ability to work with your trainer and classmates to develop a constructive dialogue

Trinity CertTESOL external moderation group interview

You get interviewed by the TCE moderator as a group. During the group interview, the TCE moderator will ask questions. Some of these questions will be about professional awareness and development. Here are some samples of the questions you may get asked.

Section Example questions
Course admission procedure How were you interviewed? Face to face,  phone,  or online?
  Was the intensity of the course explained to you during the interview?
  Was a handwritten task part of the interview?
  Was your suitability for the course fully explained and established?
  Is there anyone under 18 years old?
  Did any of you drop out of secondary education before you were 18?
  Were you asked about any physical or educational special needs you may have?
Pre-course tasks and reading What happened between the interview and the start of the course?
  Were you given pre-course work and recommended reading?
  When did you get your pre-course work?
  How clear and accurate was the information about the course and the pre-course work?
  Was there any recommended reading? If so, what was it?
  Was this reading helpful?
  What were the recommended tasks? Were these online?
  Did you get feedback on the pre-course tasks or get the answers?
  How helpful was the task as preparation for the course?
Unit 1 Teaching skills (observation) Did you get clear instructions, guidance and Pro-forma documents to use?
  Were you told how you would get assessed?
  Did you observe experienced teachers?
  How many hours or classes did you observe?
  What did you do while you were observing?
  How accessible were classes and teachers for observation and discussion?
  What was the total time allocated to the observation of classes?
  How was the observation of experienced teachers work integrated with the other course units?
  How helpful was the observation of experienced teachers in achieving the overall aims of the course?
Unit 1 Teaching skills (Teaching practice) Did you get clear instructions, guidance and Pro-forma documents to use?
  Were you told how you would get assessed?
  Were you introduced to different models of teaching?
  What is PPP, CLT, ESA?
  What do you understand to be the difference between testing and teaching?
  How many hours did you teach?
  Did you teach at different levels?
  Did you start teaching from the first day?
  How much assistance/guidance did you get with your teaching?
  Did you teach a range of lesson types?
  Did you use course books or devise your lessons?
  What were student numbers like on most days?
  What did you do while others in your teaching practice group were teaching?
  Were you given Pro-forma documents, guidance, templates, suggestions, etc.?
  What types of teaching methods did you learn?
  Did your teaching practice classes have people of a similar ability level?
  How many classes did you teach, and was each class observed by a trainer?
  How long was each class you taught?
  Did all the teaching practice equipment or software work properly?
  Can you tell me about some of your teaching practice experiences on the course?
  How did your trainer(s) observe you?
  Did more than one trainer observe one of your lessons?
  Were all your six-hour classes observed and assessed by a trainer?
  How did you observe each other?
  Did you give peer observation feedback to each other? If you did, was it helpful?
  How did your trainer(s) give you teaching practice feedback?
  How was the teaching practice work integrated with the other course units?
  How valuable was the teaching practice in achieving the overall aims of the course?
Unit 2 Language awareness and skills Were you shown the Trinity syllabus for Unit 2 – language awareness and skills?
  Were any of the language awareness and skills covered in pre-course reading and the course?
  How were you taught language awareness and skills? For example, reading material, lectures, workshops, online delivery, etc.
  Were you given resources to get more information about language awareness and skills?
  Did you have a language test?
  Was the test run under examination conditions?
  How long was the test?
  How were the language awareness and skills work integrated with the other course units?
  How valuable was the language awareness and skills in achieving the overall aims of the course?
Unit 3 Learner profile Did you get clear instructions, guidance and Pro-forma documents to use?
  Were you told how you would get assessed?
  How did you find the learner profile?
  How did you find your learner?
  Did you encounter any problems?
  How did you prepare for interviewing, profile writing and teaching your one-to-one class?
  How did you arrange interview time(s) with your learner?
  What did you ensure your learner completed the work?
  Can you tell me some of the inputs that applied to the learner profile?
  How was the learner profile work integrated with the other course units?
  How helpful was the learner profile in achieving the overall aims of the course?
Unit 4 Materials assignment Did you get clear instructions, guidance and Pro-forma documents to use?
  Were you told how you would get assessed?
  When did you first find out about the materials assignment?
  Were you well-prepared for the materials assignment interview?
  Did you rehearse for today’s moderation interview?
  How was the materials assignment work integrated with the other course units?
  How valuable was the materials assignment in achieving the overall aims of the course?
Unit 5 Unknown language Did you get clear instructions, guidance and Pro-forma documents to use?
  Were you told how you would get assessed?
  How did you find the unknown language element of the course?
  Were there clear guidelines for the assignment?
  What preparation and written guidance did you get for observation and journal writing?
  Was appropriate input provided before starting assignments?
  How was the unknown language work integrated with the other course units?
  How valuable was the unknown language unit in achieving the overall aims of the course?
Tutorials and feedback Did your input sessions reflect what you experienced in teaching practice?
  How were you given feedback after you taught?
  Was feedback constructive?
  Did it reflect how you felt about your lesson?
  How did you reflect on your teaching?
  Were you told after each lesson whether it was a pass or fail?
  Were you or would you have been warned if lessons were below standard?
  Were your tutorials given at appropriate points in the course?
  Did any of you get a warning about weaker areas or a potential failing grade?
  Were the main points discussed in tutorials confirmed in writing?
Testing and assessment Did you learn about different language examinations used to test English language levels? Two examples are the IELTS and GESE examinations.
  What types of exams did you cover?
  Did you find this helpful?
Professional awareness and development What do professional awareness and development mean?
  How were these two concepts presented?
  What do you feel you learned from each other?
  What do you feel you learned from your trainer(s)?
  Did you get advice about jobs, continuing professional and career development?
Timetabling Were you given clear deadlines for all assignments?
  Was the timetable clear at the start of the course for input, teaching practice and feedback?
  Did your timetable change during the course? If it did, were you informed?
  Was there a sensible and helpful balance of components within the timetable?
Premises, equipment and resources (Face to face courses only) How did you like the training area in terms of space, cleanliness and quietness?
  (Face to face courses only) Did you have a study area? If you did, was it big enough, clean and quiet?
  (Face to face courses only) How were the general facilities (toilets, washing facilities and refreshments)?
  (Face to face courses only) If any equipment was made available, was it in good working order? Examples: audio equipment, overhead projectors, boards, interactive whiteboards, photocopying facilities
  (Face to face courses only) Was there internet access and computing facilities?
  (Face to face courses only) Were there signs and information about emergency procedures?
Course management and administration Were you told who your trainer was?
  How efficient was the payment process?
  (Face to face courses only) If you got offered accommodation, was it suitable and value for money?
  How helpful were the administrative staff?
Overall view of the course What were your expectations of the course, and how far were these met?
  How far was the course as described in the promotional and in-course literature?

In terms of content and mode of delivery:

What were the most valuable aspects of the course?

What were the least valuable aspects of the course?

  How helpful was the training staff?
  How would you rate your trainer’s subject expertise and professionalism?
  Did you learn about continuing professional development?
  Do you feel prepared for a first (or next) teaching post?
Summary questions What recommendations would you suggest to improve the course?
  Would you recommend the course to a friend?
  Was the course professionally delivered and stimulating?
  Was the course value for money?

Your Trinity CertTESOL external moderation result

After the TCE moderator has checked your coursework, performed the group interview and graded your Unit 4 -Materials assignment, the TCE moderator meets with your course provider.

The TCE moderator explains all findings from the moderation and gives the final result for your Unit 4 -Materials assignment grade.

The course provider then sends you your final grade.

If you have performed well, you will get good news.

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