Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer and manager

This is the second post bringing together some of the ‘wisdom’ I have gathered while studying for my Distance Delta. The first post is here, in which I explained how Delta is structured if you get lost in this post!

One down, three to go

At the beginning of November I taught my first observed lesson. It was based on the first conditional, and did not go particularly well, although I haven’t had my grade yet so may just scrape a pass. Despite that, I learnt a lot from the process.

A second pair of eyes

The cracks are starting to show! (my photo)

  • A second pair of eyes. Whatever you do, however little time you think you have, make sure you go over your lesson plan with somebody else before you teach it. That would have made a real difference to my lesson. I had one overlong stage in my plan. If I’d considered it more, had more time to think about it and, especially, spoken to someone else about it, I would have realised before I was in the middle of the lesson that there was no way that practice would take that long with those students!
  • Context, context, context. It sounds basic, it is basic. I thought I had it. But it wasn’t solid, and I didn’t communicate it to my students. Make sure you get your context across in more than way, for example orally and with an image. Again, mine wasn’t solid enough.

Don’t feel sorry for me though! It was a definite learning curve, and I won’t make those mistakes again, I hope, which is the point of the whole process.

Experimental Practice and Professional Development Assignment

Two tips, now that I’ve had my experimental practice feedback. Both of them apply to the PDA in general too:

  • Be SMART. Make sure all of your aims are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed. Wikipedia has a good explanation of what this means in real terms. Mine were a bit wishy-washy at the end of my experimental practice.
  • Data. Include scanned examples of the data you have collected in it’s original form. You don’t need to have all of it, a sample is enough. For example, if you have collected student questionnaires, scan a couple of representative ones and put them in your appendix.

Module One exam preparation

  • Quizlet. If you’ve never used it, start now! It’s one of my favourite websites. I’ve written a guide for students here. I collected all of the Delta-related sets I can find and put them into one group. Many terms appear multiple times, but that means you can choose which exact definition you want to use.
  • Start learning phonemic symbols now! Throughout the Delta you will come across phonemic symbols again and again. In one part of the exam, you have to include examples of phonemic script or you will lose marks. To make this process easier, I’d recommend making yourself familiar with phonemes as early as you can. I find the English File pictures useful to help you remember which sounds go with each symbol. To help you learn how the sounds relate to one another, Adrian Underhill’s pronunciation chart is very useful. Here he is explaining how it works. Cambridge also have a set of resources to help you familiarise yourself with phonetics.
Learning the phonemic chart

Cookie’s started learning already (Photo taken from by @senicko, used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial license)


For my LSA 1 (first observed lesson) I read The English Verb by Michael Lewis. For me, this was an interesting alternative way of looking at  English grammar. It seemed to make a lot of sense, and helped me to understand why some seemingly illogical parts of the tense system actually make perfect sense.

I have started to work my way through Sound Foundations by Adrian Underhill. He explains clearly how the sounds of English are made, and how he put together his chart. I haven’t got to the practical teaching ideas yet, but judging by his blog, I imagine they will indeed be very practical.

For my second observed lesson I have read a lot about listening. I’m planning to write a fuller blog post about it, as this reading has changed my ideas a lot, but so far the books I would recommend are Listening by Tony Lynch and Anne Anderson and Listening in the Language Classroom by John Field.

Don’t forget to use the articles in the reading section of the Distance Delta website if you are studying that way. Quite a few of them are available as pdfs and they are a good way to get a few further reading ideas too.

If you can manage it, start your Module 3 reading as soon as possible. This will help you to fend off the situation I had a couple of weekends ago, when I felt really stressed because I hadn’t done anything for it up to that point. (I’m feeling a lot better about it now)

Generally, read as much as you have time to do, but make sure you start writing at some point! Tefalump has a very funny blog post about the stages of writing an LSA, with advice about reading in stage 2.

And two bonus tips…

  • Don’t forget to use your local tutor. I was trying way too hard to be independent at the beginning of my Delta, and didn’t ask my local tutor anywhere near enough questions. This partly goes back to what I said above about a second pair of eyes too – remember that going over something with someone else can really help to clarify your ideas. Needless to say, since the end of LSA 1, I’ve asked a lot more!
  • Take some time off before you start. Not always possible, and a bit late for me to realise this now, but if you can, have a holiday before the course starts. This should help you to feel fresher and more ready to face the course. I’m flagging a bit now after a busy summer, and can’t wait for the longer Christmas break!
Put your feet up

Photo taken from by @Raquel_EFL, used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial license,

That’s all for now. I’m sure there’ll be more as the course continues!


Comments on: "Distance Delta: one down, three to go" (5)

  1. Interesting stuff, and I think I concur with all of it as far as I can tell! Thanks for the quizlet link! I have a mock exam in Dec, this will be a useful preparation aid! 🙂 Keep up the good work xx


  2. Not a little jealous that you’re nearly done! And another friend finished today too 🙂


  3. Hehe yup! One LSA next week, one external in Jan, boot module 3 into shape, mock exam (but real for the M.A.) in Dec, real exam in June. I am utterly shattered… so looking forward to Christmas break! Am going to Botswana. And then to Malawi for new year. Lake beach party for new years eve! Think i could quite fancy some lounging about and…generally not thinking about assimilation/liaison/elision or any of the rest of it! Interesting though it is (and I geekily love being able to write in phonemic script, taught myself in Indo, but now I can write connected speech in phonemic script too, which is even more exciting :-p)! Am looking forward to the M.A. – will be less intense and we get to do materials design, which I’m quite excited about! 🙂


  4. Nice work, Sandy. Keep rockin!


  5. […] Read Sandy Millin’s post on doing the distance DELTA for a proper survival guide to the […]


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