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.
Harriet Lowe discovered her passion for teaching English in Italy, returning to London to complete her CELTA in 2016 and continued teaching English and EAP (English for Academic Purposes) at various institutions in London. She has attempted to bridge the gap between theory and practice, continuing teaching alongside her PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Greenwich. Since completing the Delta, she has become a Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and the Academic Manager for English Language Courses at the University of Greenwich, and a Dissertation Supervisor in Applied Linguistics and TESOL at UCL. She continues to use her research, which uses eye-tracking methodology to gain insights into the cognitive processes behind second language acquisition, and knowledge gained from the Delta to influence her teaching, teacher training and curriculum development. More information can be found on her website https://harrietllowe.wordpress.com
How did you do your Delta? How did you arrange the modules?
I ended up doing my Delta in a rather jumbled way but I still found the modules really complemented each other regardless of the arrangement of them. I started with Module 2, attending a part-time course at Oxford House College in London, with Tuesday and Thursday evening classes and four full Saturdays spread over a few months. I followed with Module 3, which I did independently, with a private tutor just looking over the final draft. In general, the advice on the Cambridge website gave me sufficient support and direction to complete this module alone. Most colleagues who I spoke to told me that the paid courses were just access to links and books, but I was lucky enough to have full access to my university library and journals, which I was able to use as research and sources throughout the module. I ironically finished with Module 1, with the help of a private tutor, who provided me with materials, feedback on mock exams and a lot of intense studying!
Why did you choose to do it that way?
With working part-time and doing a PhD, I only had time to do one module at a time. I had heard how intense each module was and despite being encouraged to wait to complete module 1 first (to ensure my terminology knowledge was adequate) I happened to think about the Delta when a Module 2 course was starting, so it seemed most convenient to do it this way. I also knew how bad I was at exams so I wanted to make sure I had the time to be able to revise for this module (and I am pleased I waited to do this – because it requires hours of studying!)
What do you think you gained from doing the Delta?
I gained a lot from the Delta. Although I found some problems with the Module 2 course which led to me completing the final two modules independently, each module encouraged continuous reflection and consideration of my own teaching, my theoretical knowledge, and the future of my teaching. Reflecting on the individual modules…
Module 2 – I learnt so much from colleagues and conversations about my lessons, especially my background essays and plans. Completing these was not necessarily the bit I learnt from but discussing the ins and outs with colleagues and my mentor helped me consider the impact of my lesson materials, staging and approach on my learners. This was not just the CELTA ‘Can you teach a lesson?’; but this was ‘How does your lesson effectively encourage learning?’ and I really enjoyed and developed from these considerations. This module completely changed the way I envisage and plan lessons, focusing on my learners and the acquisition of the target language, and I have seen a real change in my learners since.
Module 3 – I struggled with this module, having to adapt the academic writing I am used to, but again learnt to adjust my perspective, bridging that gap between theory and practice. Being encouraged to look at course design from a student-centred perspective helped both my own English teaching and curriculum development.
Module 1 – Having taught theories of SLA at university, I had a head start on this section of the exam; however, I was thrilled to be able to fully focus on phonology and phonetics. I’ve never really been a grammar nerd, but I had a chance to really sit down and study this in more detail.
What were the downsides of the method you chose?
It took a long time. Of course, the impact of COVID was completely out of my control and I had to delay Module 1 by 9 months which delayed job development opportunities. I felt like I was dragging by the end!
What were the benefits of the method you chose?
I had time to continue working alongside the Delta and put the knowledge into practice throughout the entire process. By the end (Module 1), I had spent nearly a year self-studying and continuing to develop my knowledge and understanding of the concepts from Modules 2 and 3. Spreading the modules out like this meant I could see the influence of the modules on my teaching as I completed the Diploma.
The modules are hard-core and require your time. Doing the modules separately was really beneficial as I spent around 2-3 hours a day every day studying for Module 1. Module 2 completely absorbed my life for the month of the part-time course, and I spent at least 6 full weekends of research and writing for Module 3. I’m not sure how much I could’ve processed and learnt if I tried to do all these concurrently.
What tips would you give other people doing the Delta?
I found spreading the modules over time greatly beneficial to really see myself develop as a teacher. I would also encourage anyone completing the DELTA to not just consider it as the final step in your teaching CPD, but as a stepping stone to open the world of ELT research, L2 research, and the connection between these two for you.