Reflections on my first Take Your Time Delta Module 1 course

When I went freelance, one of the main things I wanted to set up was a more relaxed way of working towards the Delta Module 1 exam. I’d seen lots of people getting stressed by it (including myself!), and I thought there must be another way to prepare.

I was also saddened by the Cambridge grade statistics, which show that as many as 42.9% of people taking Delta Module 1 fail (in 2019). This is a huge percentage, meaning something must be going wrong. I know a lot of people take the exam without a preparation course, and though I suspect much of this is due to the cost, I also think that some of it is knowing how stressful the course might be. I don’t think they’re failing because they’re not good teachers, or because they’re not capable of success in the exam, but because they don’t understand how the exam works and don’t necessarily have the level of methodology knowledge required to take it yet. That’s not to say you have to take a preparation course: just that it will probably increase your chances of success if it’s a good course.

I decided to put together a year-long course, in contrast to the three- or four-month courses which seemed to be the norm. I wanted course participants to have the chance to apply what they learnt to their work, and not just cram for the exam. I also wanted them to have time to absorb the structure of the Module 1 exam and feel confident when walking into the exam room, so that they could concentrate on showing what they knew, rather than trying to remember exam technique.

My first course started in October 2021, with three participants, and a fourth joining us soon after the start. I’m so grateful to my first group for working with me on this experimental course, and giving me excellent feedback throughout to help me refine it. It’s been a really enjoyable experience, and I think I’ve easily learnt as much as they have about Delta Module 1 and what candidates need to know to take the exam. I’ve also learnt a lot about how to structure my course.

I started out with a syllabus for the first 13 sessions or so, covering one part of the exam per session. I expected that we would work through these sessions, do a mock exam, then be flexible in the second half of the course, focussing on the areas which the participants most wanted/needed to work on. This is largely what we did, but I’m not sure if the specific sessions I ran the first time round were always the most effective. It took some experimentation to find session formats which worked well, combining exam practice with reflection on teaching. I also needed to work out / remember what level of methodological knowledge pre-Delta teachers are likely to have – this really made me appreciate how much I’ve learnt about teaching because of and since completing my own Delta. I sometimes pitched things too high, or expected to get through a lot more in a session, because I forgot that this was likely to be new information for these teachers.

Homework was very flexible. Generally it was designed to feed into the upcoming session in some way, but sometimes it revised what we’d done in the past or introduced new areas of language. Based on a suggestion from the group, there were also optional extension tasks, normally something to read or watch, which they could do if they had extra time or were particularly interested in the subject. If the participants didn’t do the core homework, it didn’t stop us from completing the session. I think it’s important to recognise that teachers (all adults!) are busy, and that whether they complete homework or not is their responsibility – if they do, great, if they don’t, I tend to say that’s their problem! Most of the homework was something they could check themselves, and I started to factor in time for discussing their questions a couple of sessions into the course when I realised it was sometimes taking over the session but I hadn’t planned for it.

The course ran for 30 sessions, and ended up finishing three weeks after the Module 1 exam in June 2022, since all four participants decided not to take the exam in this sitting. They may take it in December, or they may not take it at all. Part of the joy of a course like this is that it can be very flexible, and respond to the participants’ needs. They made this decision in early April, so the final 10 sessions or so have been very relaxed, and have focussed on areas of their teaching which they wanted to work on, for example how to teach listening, not just test it, or how to choose a coursebook. We’ve also had general discussions covering lots of areas of teaching which have wandered all over the place in the session. Even though they haven’t taken the exam, all four participants have commented on how much they’ve learnt from the course, which is what I really wanted people to get out of it. The 90 minutes I’ve spent with them each week have been the highlight of my freelancing so far – I’ve enjoyed it so much 🙂

We’re already 10 sessions into the March to December course, for which I have two groups, and the lessons I’ve learnt from the first cohort are being put into practice. The sessions for the second cohort have a more consistent structure, and I feel like I’ve been able to scaffold their understanding of each section of the exam more solidly based on the questions the first cohort asked me. I then fed some of these new sessions back into the course for the first cohort, as there was three months of overlap. I’ve pushed the first mock exam to the midpoint on the course for the second cohort (after session 15), to give us a little more time to go over each section of the exam first, and particularly to focus on the more problematic areas. This still leaves us 50% of the course to be flexible and respond to the needs of the participants. Of course, because they are small groups, all of the sessions can be flexible to some extent too!

I’m really pleased that the idea of the Take Your Time Delta course seems to be working. I’ve had really positive feedback so far, and the course continues to evolve. If you’d like to join me on the next course, I’ll be starting both Module One and a brand new Module Three course in September. You can find all the information and sign up on the Take Your Time page.

And if you’d like to do some form of development but my course isn’t for you, why not take a look at the Courses by ELT freelancers page to see what else is on offer?

2 thoughts on “Reflections on my first Take Your Time Delta Module 1 course

  1. Hi Sandy, we are two teachers who are interested in joining your “Take Your Time Delta Module 1” preparation course. However, we have a couple of questions before we apply. Please drop me a line via email so that we can chat. Thanks!

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