This is the first in a series of posts showing you all the different ways you can approach the Cambridge Delta. They are designed to help you find out more about the course and what it involves, as well as helping you to choose the right way to do it for you, your lifestyle and the time you have available. If you’ve done the Delta (or any other similar higher-level teaching course, including a Masters), and you’d like to join in, let me know by leaving me a comment or contacting me via Twitter @sandymillin.
Katy Simpson-Davies is currently teaching in Dubai. She tweets @katysdavies and blogs http://lessonsfrommystudents.wordpress.com. She used to teach with me at IH Newcastle, and we saw each other again at IATEFL Liverpool:
How did you do your Delta?
- I did module 2 first, and I did this face-to-face at IH Dubai, intensively, full-time over six weeks.
- I did module 1 six months later, after going back to work. I followed an online prep course over three months through IH Wroclaw, before sitting the exam at my local centre.
- I’m still working on my module 3, and will pay a consultant for guidance (when I’ve made a bit more headway!)
Why did you choose to do it that way?
I was advised to do module 2 first by my tutor, on the basis that it’s easier to understand the theory once you’ve already tried putting it into practice, and I think it was great advice. Module 1 felt so much easier than I think it would have done otherwise.
Having done a Masters online, I knew that I wanted to do module 2 face-to-face, and I was in a very fortunate position to be able to give up work for six weeks. I appreciate that not everyone can do this, but if there’s any way you can, I would really recommend it. I feel I got so much more out of it by being able to completely immerse myself in it compared to people I know who didn’t do it this way. I didn’t learn much more on the module 1 online prep course than I’d already learnt on module 2, as it was more about exam technique, which was what I expected (and was why I didn’t mind doing it online).
What do you think you gained from doing the Delta?
Where to start?! SO much. For me, it’s not an exaggeration to say that it was life-changing. I gained a greater understanding of:
- how to teach skills. I was a very grammar-orientated teacher before, and only ever really helped students to practice things like listening, not really develop it.
- the importance of helping students to reflect on their learning, and how to encourage them to do this.
- how to hand over more control to the students, and to take myself out of the equation more.
- how to help students to see patterns and make connections.
- how to use the same activity in different ways for students of different abilities.
- how to deal with emerging needs in the classroom, and adapting my plan depending on how the students are coping.
- how to conduct action research (particularly through the exploratory practice).
- the importance of the different teacher roles, and how to switch roles at different points to maximize the learning opportunities for our students.
The most important thing, overall, was a renewed passion, buzz, and thrill out of teaching. I gained confidence to experiment, and to see the classroom as a laboratory where you’re constantly trying to improve your work. Since doing the Delta, I can’t imagine ever doing a job where there wasn’t scope for constantly improving and learning new things. My husband is a pilot, and there’s a wrong and right way of doing it, and they learn it and they do it. I would hate that! Delta taught me that we’re incredibly lucky to have a job where we can experiment and take control of our own development, every single day, not just on the Delta.
What were the downsides of the method you chose?
- Obviously the money! Doing module 2 full-time means not earning, before you even consider the fees.
- It was VERY intense. If you don’t cope well with intense pressure, you could really crack up under the stress of it. I personally work better under pressure with tighter deadlines, but by LSA4 I think I was basically suffering from exhaustion. I didn’t get to bed before my LSA4 because I was still writing my lesson plan at 5am. I literally ran out of time because I was the first one to do it out of the group, and there physically weren’t enough hours. I still wouldn’t change the way I did it (even though this did end up messing up my grade), but if you can find an intensive course that’s over seven weeks instead of six, that might be better.
- We didn’t have as long to ‘digest’ everything, and perhaps if you did module 2 over a long period, you could implement things you’d learnt before moving on to the next new thing.
- Spreading the modules out, and separating them in this way means that it’s now a while since I did module 2, and I kind of feel like I’ve ‘done’ Delta, even though I’m actually missing a third of it! It means that I need to get all the books out, all over again, and study harder than someone else might need to who had done them all together, as it’s all feeling a bit rusty now. I’d recommend doing them in quicker succession.
What were the benefits of the method you chose?
- I learnt so much from my tutors during the input sessions of my Delta module 2. They brought the hefty books to life. The input sessions alone were worth every penny of the course fees.
- The intensity of it meant that you could visibly see your progress, and made it easier to make connections between everything.
- We were a very small group (five of us), and became very close with it being so intense, and really supported each other, and could trust each other to give honest feedback. I know I’ve got friends for life from that experience.
- The tutors really got to know you, which I think helped them better understand why you might be teaching something in a certain way, which meant they could better help you to improve.
- Because you had so much time together, you didn’t feel that the course was just about exam technique, or complying with the Cambridge criteria. I felt that the tutors’ aim was really to improve my teaching, and that’s what the course did.
What tips would you give other people doing the Delta?
- Do Module 2 first.
- Choose your centre very carefully, and preferably go on a recommendation. I LOVED every single minute of my Delta module 2. I was in tears on my last day because I couldn’t imagine going back to real life after such an amazing experience! That’s down to the fantastic tutors I had, and I can imagine it would be a totally different story if you didn’t have such good tutors.
- Study the criteria very carefully, and when your tutors give you advice, make sure you follow it to the word!
- Remember you’re there to develop, not to just get a certificate, and try not to let the grades get to you. It’s about so much more than grades.
- But if you are someone who can’t let go of the grades (I admit that I struggle with this!), then be careful about pacing yourself. I messed up LSA4 and all the other grades I got counted for nothing. If you’re interested in getting a good grade, then make sure you think ahead to LSA4 carefully (e.g work backwards in your choice of LSAs, so you don’t scupper yourself by having to do a skill, for example, when you’d rather do a system).
- If you’re doing an intensive course, then try to do as much reading as possible beforehand, because it’s a whirlwind once it starts.
- Think carefully about the geographical location you do the course in. I really appreciated coming home every day to a supportive husband who put a meal on the desk in front of me as I carried on writing! Your whole life is literally put on hold. One of the other trainees came from abroad and was staying in a hotel, and I think that was emotionally very tough. If you can’t do it in your city, can you do it in a close friend / sister / parent / grandparent’s city?!