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

This is part of 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.

Lizzie Pinard is coming to the end of her M.A. with integrated Delta at Leeds Metropolitan University and will soon be dividing her summer between writing a dissertation and teaching at a private language school in Leeds. She answered questions about her Delta here, then used the same questions to write about her M.A. over on her blog. She blogs at Reflections of an English Language Teacher, tweets @lizziepinard, and is interested in materials development as well as doing research and presenting at conferences.

Lizzie and Sandy at IATEFL Liverpool

How did you do your Delta?

I did my Delta as part of a full time M.A. at Leeds Metropolitan University. This course integrates the Delta modules into an M.A. in English Language Teaching. However, at Leeds Met you don’t have to do the M.A. in order to do the Delta (or vice versa for that matter!), and you don’t have to do it full time either. If you only want to do the Delta, you join for Semester 1 of the M.A., which starts in September. As it is fully integrated, this route would still give you a Postgraduate Certificate in English Language Teaching and Professional Practice from Leeds Met as well as your Delta. You gain the Postgraduate Certificate or M.A. credits by doing Leeds Met assessments as well as the Delta assessments. However, this isn’t as bad as it might sound!

  • Module 1: you do a series of homework tasks, which help you learn how to do Delta module 1 Exam paper questions and these provide 50% of the Leeds Met module 1 credits. Then at the end of the semester you do a Delta Module 1 exam paper. This gives you the other 50% of the credits necessary for the Leeds Met module but also acts as a mock exam for the real Delta exam.
  • Module 2: you submit a portfolio consisting of your Delta module 2 work (LSA essays, lesson plans, PDA) and observation tasks. Leeds Met provides a set of observation tasks as guidance, but you are also free to create your own, tailored to your PDA. These are graded against Leeds Met criteria.
  • Module 3: you do an oral presentation based on your Delta module 3 extended specialism essay. People generally found that this really helped them get their head around their specialism and made completing the Delta essay much easier.

If you choose to do the Delta part-time, you do Modules 1 and 3 one year and then module 2 the following September. The teaching lasts for 12 weeks, and then there are two assessment weeks, the sum of which is the duration of the university’s semester 1.

Why did you choose to do it that way?

I chose to do it this way because I found a leaflet advertising the course in my conference pack at IATEFL and it looked perfect for someone like me who had faffed around a lot in my twenties before discovering teaching and the CELTA. I wanted to gain two of the most highly sought after qualifications in ELT in one go – saving time in the long run and equipping myself, hopefully, to get a stable, permanent job. (That is the plan! I am just coming out of the end of the course, only got a dissertation to go, and am optimistic about the future! Starting with a couple of conference presentations based on work I’ve done for the M.A. portion of the course. It won’t happen immediately but it is now possible and that is distinct progress!) I had thought about doing Distance Delta before but then relocated to the UK, decided I’d rather do it face-to-face style and happened on that leaflet. Fate! In hindsight, I think I would not have coped with Distance Delta, as the whole course was a very steep learning curve for me so I found all the support I had from tutors and classmates absolutely invaluable and don’t think I could have got through without it! We were very much in it together and got through it together.

What do you think you gained from doing the Delta?

  • I think the most important thing I gained from doing the Delta is learning how to keep learning. That is, how to be a reflective teacher, how to develop my teaching through research, experimentation and reflection.
  • Also, I learnt how to approach a lesson in a principled, systematic yet flexible way. I would also say that doing the Delta helped my classroom practice to line up more closely with my teaching beliefs.

What were the downsides of the method you chose?

I don’t think there were any downsides, to be honest! I suppose, yes, it was incredibly intensive, intense and hard work, but those were good things too. Being completely immersed in Delta for a semester was immense. You have to be ready to put real life on hold for the duration, pretty much, and just work like a demon but it’s an incredibly rewarding experience. I suppose unless you are doing it part-time, you can’t work at the same time, so there’s a financial factor there. Worth it if you can manage it though.

What were the benefits of the method you chose?

The benefits? Where to start…

  • One thing I really liked about this course was the way the input sessions were carefully planned so that learning from each module fed into the other two modules too.  For this reason I’d recommend doing all three modules in one go. (I don’t know how intensive courses work elsewhere but I think the Leeds Met way definitely works!)
  • A very important aspect, for me, was all the tutor support I received: LSA1 was a very steep learning curve for me, but my tutor helped me understand what was expected in terms of the essay and the lesson plan, by giving me incredibly detailed and helpful feedback on my drafts. I then managed to scrape a pass in both essay and lesson plan. Following the assessment, we had individual tutorials to get our feedback, which again were very thorough and helpful, and given very supportively. And this, together with similarly helpful feedback on future drafts, enabled me to go from scraping a pass in LSA1 to getting a distinction for my essay and a merit for my lesson in LSA2 and 3. Also, I didn’t realize at the time that it wasn’t standard, until Sandy sent me an LSA lesson plan of hers to look at, but Leeds Met very helpfully provide a template for the lesson plan, which is very helpful in guiding you to meet all the criteria. It sounds like a small thing but every little helps when you are starting off and don’t have a clue what you are doing!!
  • Doing the Delta intensively is a mental and emotional rollercoaster, but the tutors understand that and help you through it. For example, with Module 3, another near-vertical learning curve for me, there was a point just before we got our needs analysis tools back, having previously submitted them for feedback, where I lost all confidence in myself and emailed my tutor saying I was convinced I was going to fail this module and so on, pretty much ready to give up on it, and very quickly had the very reassuring response that I needed to be able to keep going as well as all the support I needed to get to grips with what was required. Module 3 was very well managed actually: we had mini-deadlines throughout the semester, where we submitted drafts of each section of the extended specialism essay and received feedback on those, as well as individual tutorials. I was able to go from not having a clue at the beginning to producing a completed assignment by the end, in structured, well-scaffolded little steps.
  • The camaraderie of the cohort shouldn’t be underestimated either. Having regular contact with a small but close-knit bunch of classmates going through the same thing as you is one of the great things about face-to-face Delta. We jollied each other along, whinged to each other, helped each other, gave each other kicks when necessary and so on.

What tips would you give other people doing the Delta?

Top tips from me would be:

  1. Read as much as you can before you start the course.
  2. Do the course somewhere, like Leeds Met, with lots of support built in for all the wobbly moments and a course that seems designed to maximize on the learning potential of all modules.
  3. …Or just do it at Leeds Met!
  4. Read my blog post of top tips for Delta trainees!!
  5. Don’t forget to enjoy it – it’s an amazing opportunity so get as much out of it as you can.

If you have any questions about the course, contact Heather Buchanan (course leader) on h.buchanan@leedsmet.ac.uk; if you have any specific questions you want to ask me about my experience of the course, that aren’t answered above, feel free to get in touch – lizzie.pinard@gmail.com.

Disclaimer: This blog post consists of my experience, my views and claims to be no more and no less!

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Comments on: "Delta conversations: Lizzie" (2)

  1. […] This is part 2 of my reflections about my experience of doing the M.A. in ELT at Leeds Metropolitan University. Part 1 deals with the Delta component of the course, and came about as a guest blog for Sandy Millin. You can read it on her blog, along with all the other respondents’ posts. […]

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  2. […] invited me to answer a set of questions about my Delta experience, for inclusion on her blog along with other Delta teachers’ answers, to create a sort of guide for teachers who are […]

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