The Cambridge Delta (Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is an advanced teaching diploma for teachers of English as a Foreign Language.
My Delta (overview)
I completed Modules 2 and 3 of the Delta in June 2013, getting a Pass in the former and a Merit in the latter. My Module 3 speciality was ‘Teaching Exam Classes’ and the course I created was designed to help IELTS students improve their reading and writing skills. I did Module 1 in December 2013 and got a Distinction.
I have written a large number of posts related to the Delta, and have a dedicated category on my blog.
To help people find out more about the different ways that you can do Delta, I have interviewed various people about how they did it. They also offer their own tips on how to make the most of the course.
- The full list of interviews (where you can read them one after the other)
- Sandy (me)
While not part of my Delta Conversations series, Adi Rajan’s post reflecting on his Delta covers a lot of the same ground, and is worth reading so that you know what you’re getting yourself into. He did all three modules simultaneously on a full-time face-to-face course in Bangkok. Adam Beale wrote about what he has taken from the Delta in the immediate aftermath of Modules One and Two.
If you’re interested in finding out a bit more about the competition, the closest equivalent to the Cambridge Delta is the Trinity DipTESOL.
Dave Dodgson has written about different aspects of the DipTESOL: using a Moodle/online course review, face-to-face teaching practice/reflections, written exam, research projects, the phonology interview, the course in general and the Dip versus the MA.
Gemma Lunn has also written about her DipTESOL experience, and shares links to all of her posts.
Peter Clements has written about perceptions of the Trinity DipTESOL. For what it’s worth, I think that it can be a more practical qualification for those wanting to go into management, providing your employers understand that it is a Delta equivalent.
I have written a couple of posts to help people who are doing the Delta:
- Preparing for the Delta – things to do before you start, for example books to read, and things you can learn to do to make using Word easier.
- Useful links for Delta – links for each part of the exam, and general links for the whole course.
This post shows you how I approached preparation for the Module 1 exam, including how I laid out my answers for each task.
I found it very difficult to find examples of assignments to know the kind of thing I needed (not) to write/produce as every assignment is different, and Cambridge prefers not to put the temptation to plagiarise in people’s way. I know that this makes it a real challenge to produce a good assignment, but the drafting process and the work you do with your tutor will make your work better.
I have listed the areas I chose to focus on to give you an idea of the spread of assignments you might expect to do during a course. I’ve also given you my grade and some of the feedback I got.
Module 2: LSA 1 – grammar: conditionals
- essay – pass
The tutor said it was a clear pass, with a well-supported analysis. To get a merit I needed to add more critical commentary to my reading in the analysis and use a wider range of sources. In terms of the teaching ideas, it relied too much on learner-generated output (also a problem in my lesson) – I didn’t really include any more traditional ideas. My evaluations of the activities were also a bit weak.
- lesson plan (first conditionals) – fail
My lesson was pitched at too low a level for the students, the timing was unrealistic and I relied completely on learner-generated output for the target language, within a very weak context. My task set-up, grouping of students and use of information gathered while monitoring were also poor. Despite this, the tutor said ‘it had the potential to be a useful and effective lesson’ as a lot of the planning was strong (my note: just the procedure that wasn’t, which is a fairly major oversight!). I tried to make it learner-centred and to include some guided discovery, but didn’t really know how to do this well. I managed to be flexible and add extra activities, but did not predict any of the problems mentioned above.
Module 2: LSA 2 – listening: transactional listening
- essay – pass
The analysis is clear because of my use of headings and sub-headings to signpost important areas. I used a wider range of texts than in my first essay, which made it stronger. The activity evaluations were also stronger than in LSA1. However, the descriptions of the activities needed to be clearer and more detailed, so that anybody could reproduce them. There also needed to be stronger link between the analysis and the activities. The contexts I described did not cover a wide enough range, for example I did not cover different levels.
- lesson plan – pass
My choice of materials meant that this lesson was much more successful than LSA1, and it felt like a pass while I was in the lesson (I knew I’d failed LSA1 after about 20 minutes of the lesson!). I was also much more responsive to the learners, and there was clear evidence of learning. I’d found out more about guided discovery by this stage, so that thread of the lesson worked better than in LSA1 too. However, I still had problems with task set-up (this was a recurring theme throughout my Delta), and my monitoring was still not completely effective.
Module 2: LSA 3 – writing: discursive essays
- essay – merit
This was my strongest piece of work for module 2 ‘due to its depth, accuracy and organisation’ as my tutor said. I managed to identify and use key sources effectively (which I’d found difficult in my previous two LSAs). There was a clear line following through the whole essay, linking the problems and solutions to the analysis clearly. I shouldn’t have focussed on the writing process as one area in itself, as this restriced the solutions I could offer in terms of learners editing their work.
- lesson plan (writing paragraphs) – fail
As I said in my post-lesson reflection, I was way too ambitious about how much we could get through in an hour. I should have asked students to write their paragraphs in a previous lesson, then used the hour to analyse, improve, and re-write them. Because they spent so long on writing their initial paragraphs, there was no time for them to re-write them, meaning I didn’t hit my aim. The lesson plan ‘was detailed and contained some very useful elements and activities’ but I didn’t show the flexibility I needed to to still be able to achieve my aim. I also ended up focussing on written discourse, rather than writing skills, which falls under systems: discourse analysis, rather than skills: writing. As with LSA1, I pitched the lesson wrong, but this time the students needed a lot more support than I expected, and my tasks were too complicated. I also had problems with task set-up again. The moral of the story: test out your activities on other students – don’t make your LSA the first time you’ve ever used them.
Module 2: LSA 4 – lexis: multi-part verbs
I don’t know the separate grades for the essay and lesson as it was externally assessed, but I passed Module 2, so I must have passed at least the lesson!
I felt much more confident with the essay than I did with any of the others, because I finally felt like I knew what kind of document I needed to produce. I read the tutor comments on my previous LSA essays and used these to help me make sure I ticked all the boxes Cambridge wanted.
- lesson plan
I did a diagnostic test before I taught the lesson to show me exactly which of the verbs the students already knew. This made a real difference when it came to writing about my students in detail, as I really felt I knew what they needed to learn. The lesson felt good while I was teaching it, and I was pretty sure I’d passed. I think you can normally tell whether the lesson was a pass or a fail. For merits and distinctions, it’s probably guesswork (I didn’t get any, so I don’t know how they feel!).
Module 2: (Professional Development Assignment) (pass)
- experimental practice lesson – grammaticization
I only realised about 5 minutes before writing here that my tutor put comments on my document after the lesson – don’t forget to check what your tutors wrote to help you with later assignments!
This was an interesting part of the course for me, adding an extra tool to my repertoire, although I haven’t used it a great deal in the year since I did the assignment! I didn’t include scanned examples of what the students actually produced, which would have been better.
- PDA reflection and action stages 2, 3, and 4
I didn’t do anywhere near as much work on this as I would have liked to due to time restrictions, and some of my evidence was a bit cobbled together. However, I think it was by far the most interesting and useful part of the whole course, and I wish it was weighted to reflect this more. It is a very valuable process to go through. The fact that it is only a pass/fail assignment means it can be somewhat neglected, which I think is a real failing in the course. (rant over!)
Module 3: Teaching Exam Classes, with a focus on improving reading and writing for IELTS students (merit)
- Part 1: 4,500 word essay, needs analysis and diagnostic test results, course proposal
- Part 2: all other evidence in appendices
I don’t have any specific feedback about Module 3. To get to the point where a merit was possible, I handed in two drafts, although neither of them were anywhere near complete. Make full use of any draft/commenting facility you have available. I’d have gone completely wrong if I’d stuck with my first version!
A final note
Feel free to let me know if you have any questions. I’m afraid I can’t share my assignments as there have been plagiarism issues. What I have written here is just my interpretation of the requirements, and you could do it completely differently – keep checking back with the criteria and with your tutors. Good luck!