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.
Martin Hajek works as an English teacher in the private sector in Colombia. He moved into TEFL in 2017 when he did his CELTA at CELT Athens. He fell in love with the profession and decided to focus on his professional development. You can read about his journey on his blog teflincolombia.com and follow him on Twitter @martinhajek_ELT. [Note from Sandy: Martin has lots of useful information about Delta on his blog – I’d definitely recommend it!]
How did you do your Delta? How did you arrange the modules?
II took the Delta Module One exam at the British Council in Bogotá in June 2019 after individual preparation. I got a Pass with Merit and decided to do Module Three on my own as well. It proved to be a rash decision because I had to resubmit the assignment. I asked for marker feedback and rewrote the essay according to it. I passed the module after submitting it in June 2020 through NILE, whose tutor read my assignment and told me that it was good enough to pass. Finally, I took IH Mexico’s online Module Two course from January to March 2021 and received a Pass with Merit.
Why did you choose to do it that way?
The first decision was kind of an accident, really. I actually wanted to take a preparation course with one of the distance course providers, but my payment kept getting rejected for no apparent reason, so I gave up and decided to prepare for the exam by myself. I couldn’t do Module Two immediately afterwards because online courses weren’t approved at that time. There are no course providers in Colombia and I couldn’t find a local tutor in the city where I lived, so I chose to do Module Three instead. I was then ready to travel to Mexico to do Module Two in person in 2020, but we all know what happened that year. When the option to do the module fully online was approved, I decided to do so because I didn’t want to keep waiting any longer.
What do you think you gained from doing the Delta?
A huge confidence boost! When I did my CELTA, there was a Delta course taking place concurrently at the centre. We mingled with those teachers and even observed one of the lessons, and I found it all very inspirational. I loved my CELTA experience and from that moment I knew that I would do a Delta at some point in the future. I managed to reach the goal four years later, which brought me a sense of achievement, and I hope that it will allow me to have a long-term career in TEFL. In practical terms, I feel that the Delta has helped me make principled decisions. I enjoy going beyond the coursebook and designing my own activities from scratch, and I found all three modules beneficial in that regard.
What were the downsides of the method you chose?
The biggest issue was doing Module Three before Module Two. I think it makes sense to do the diploma in the conventional order because the first two modules prepare you for the extended assignment. In addition, doing Module Two online is probably more challenging than the in-person course because many things can go wrong teaching through Zoom. It’s also more difficult to build a sense of camaraderie with other candidates. Don’t get me wrong, it was great to meet amazing people from around the world and we did have fun in our Module Two group, but it wasn’t the same experience as studying together in the library and discussing lessons, essays, and books over lunch.
What were the benefits of the method you chose?
Since I did Module One and Three independently, it helped me discover many helpful resources. I became very organised and improved my strategies for studying autonomously. My approach also helped me save money, particularly by taking Module Two online. I didn’t need to stop working and travel to another country to take the course there.
What tips would you give other people doing the Delta?
- Take advantage of free online resources. There is a lot of useful information on blogs and various websites. The Delta handbook is very helpful, but reading practical advice from those who have completed the diploma is even better.
- Take notes when you do your background reading so that you know where to find key information. You also need to bear in mind that it’s necessary to have access to a lot of books and articles to pass the Delta. This is particularly important when you take a distance course, so you need to make sure that you’ll be able to do your reading.
- Learn how to use relevant features of Microsoft Word or another similar program. Knowing how to create a table of contents, cross-references, or footers will help you save time. It will also make your documents easier to mark for the tutors and assessors.
- When your tutors tell you that you should improve in a specific area, take their advice seriously. They want to make you a better teacher and it’s their job to give you negative feedback when you make mistakes. Nobody enjoys being criticised, but reflecting on your teaching practice is an important element of professional development, so it’s necessary to take the feedback on board.
- Be open-minded and don’t be afraid to experiment. There isn’t just one way to teach, so it’s a good idea to explore other methods and approaches. For example, you need to pass only one of the internal LSAs in Module Two, so I think it makes sense to try something new in one of the observed lessons instead of relying on tried and tested methods and materials. Delta shouldn’t be only about confirming what you already know; it’s also an opportunity to teach challenging lessons that you haven’t done before.
In retrospect, what would you have done differently?
In hindsight, I should have asked someone to read my first Module Three essay and give me feedback. I wasn’t ready to submit it on my own without having done Module Two. There are a lot of criteria to pay attention to, and I underestimated how strict the marking is.