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Concourse 2

Preparing for Module Two


However you are taking a course for Delta Module Two, by distance learning, intensively over 8 weeks, semi-intensively or spread over months and months, you will find that you do not have time to learn all you need to know from scratch.  Anything, therefore, that you can do before the course begins will allow you to focus during the course on things you need to know and learn to do rather than things you should already know.
Good providers will send you advice about preparing for course before you begin and you should follow that.  If a centre does not do that, you need to ask whether it's the right one for you.
This guide is intended to help in a more general way and cover the inevitable gaps.


Familiarise yourself with the scheme

This seems obvious but it is surprising how many people come to Delta Module Two without having a good understanding of what they will need to do on the course.  This means they waste time trying to understand the differences between Reflection and Evaluation, Reflection and Action, Experimental Practice and the Professional development Assignment and a skills-focused vs. a systems-focused teaching assignment.
Go to the overview of Delta on this site for more detail but here's the summary to keep with you:


If you add up the maximum word counts for all that, the total is over 14,000 words.  That does not include any plans or post-lesson evaluations.  It also excludes any pre-course tasks your centre may ask you to complete.
Don't let any of that come as a surprise to you.  If you know what's required, you can plan your time.


Observe others

The absolute minimum set by Cambridge is that you must observe other teachers for 10 hours.
On some courses, these observations will happen during the course, on others, you will be expected to arrange them for yourself.  Some courses, too, have access to video recordings of teaching and they can be used for half of these hours.
You will save yourself a good deal of time and energy if you can do some observations of others before the course starts and keep a record of what you have done.
In particular, you should try to observe people teaching at levels with which you are less familiar and using approaches which are not the ones you use.  One of the purposes of the Delta course is to get you to re-examine your own beliefs about teaching in the light of your experience and reading.  Observing others is a good stimulus for thought.
For more on ways to observe, see the guide to observing others on this site.


Prepare for development

Delta courses are not aimed at beginners who need to learn the basic nuts and bolts of teaching.  You wouldn't be on a course if you didn't know those.  The central concern of all courses for Delta Module Two is to aid you in refining, reflecting on and developing your skills in the classroom and in planning and preparing to teach.
A major section of this site is devoted to helping people to reflect on and evaluate their own teaching and suggesting some techniques and ideas for your own development.
Click here to go to that section and look around for ideas that interest you.


Learn to transcribe

Oddly, some say perversely, the ability to transcribe spoken English in phonemic script is not on the Delta syllabus.  However, if you are unable adequately to transcribe what you hear and what you intend to teach and research, you will be at a severe disadvantage and unable to analyse spoken language successfully or, probably, to teach it well.
You cannot get away with inventing some kind of phonetic transcription which makes sense to you.
If you cannot already transcribe reasonably accurately or read the example above, then you will not have time to learn to do so on a Delta course.  There are simply too many other calls on your time.  Do not hope for the best.

To learn the basics of transcription, go to the mini-course on this site.  That will give you the fundamental skills you need and suggest ways to get more practice.


Start to think about aims and objectives

An area that causes even experienced teachers considerable difficulty on Delta courses is matching aims to procedures and devising and expressing overall objectives for lessons.
The time to think about these things is now, not during a course.
You need now to acquire the habit of thinking at the planning stages not just about what will happen in the lesson and what materials you will need but about what the purposes of the lesson are.
Here are some places to start:

  • What language or skill is the main aim of this lesson?
  • What secondary aims does the lesson have?
  • What do I hope the learners will be able to do by the end that they can't do now?
  • For each stage of the lesson:
    • what is the purpose of the stage?
    • which part of the main aim does the stage target?
    • which secondary aim is served by this procedure?
  • How will I check the aims and objectives have been achieved?

There is a general guide to planning on the site and a detailed one to how to write a Delta lesson plan.



This is an allied issue.
At first, and sometimes throughout Delta courses, many people find it challenging to estimate accurately how long things will take and what they can sensibly try to do in the time available.  This is especially the case for people who do not usually teach in self-contained sessions between 40 and 60 minutes (as the Delta course requires).
In the weeks before you start a course, note down how long you think stages of a lesson will take and then, after the lesson, write down how long the stages actually took.  If there is a disparity, you have a timing issue and that is not trivial.  Ask yourself why the timings are different.  For example, did you:

  • Forget to include the time for setting up and getting feedback from an activity?
  • Get sidetracked unnecessarily?
  • Get sidetracked usefully?
  • Allow things to drift?
  • Usefully respond to learners' needs and the language they were producing?


Published materials

This is important, especially if, like many teachers, you limit yourself day to day to the materials and course books with which you are familiar.
Delta courses require you to match carefully the objectives of your teaching to materials which are fit for the purpose.  This requires a good deal of knowledge of what is available and what will serve your purposes.  If you are spending time on a Delta course hunting around for materials, then you are using up time that could be spent on something more productive such as planning and researching the area you are going to teach.
Now is the time to broaden your horizons and do the research so you can build up a small database of published materials to use in your assessed lessons.
Look at a range of course and supplementary materials, especially those which claim to be using a methodology with which you are less familiar such as a task-based approach.
Read the introductions to the teacher's books (if any) and see what the authors think they are doing.


Check your language knowledge

Now is also a good time to do some serious self-evaluation of what you know, half know or don't know at all.  If any of the following are unfamiliar to you, take some time before the course to visit the links and brush up or extend your knowledge.
The acid test of familiarity is to ask yourself if you would be happy explaining the area right now on a pre-service training course such as CELTA.
If the answer is No or Not really, you need to investigate the area.

Adverbs and Adverbials Compounding Complex sentences
Subordination and coordination Comparison Negation
Articles Word formation Relative clauses
Condition and concession Passives Reported speech
Determiners Synonymy Aspect
Modality Nominalisation Modification

Another way to assess yourself is to take the 25-item Delta grammar test.  Click here to do that (new window).

If you would like to look through a glossary of grammar terms that you will need to know for Delta, click here for the PDF document (new window).


Some pre-course reading

Good centres will have provided you with a pre-course reading list and some may even have given you access to the texts themselves one way or another.  Before your course starts, you will have the time to do the reading carefully.  During the course, you are going to be very busy so anything you can do now will save time and tears later.
You will need to have access to grammar references above the level of learners of English.
In case the centre hasn't given you a list or you find time hanging heavily on your hands, here are some ideas of what to read before you start a Delta course.
A more comprehensive list of grammar references is available on this site as well as a list of skills references.

Carter, R, 2006, Cambridge Grammar of English, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Accurate and accessible
Harmer, J, 2015, The Practice of English Language Teaching, 5th Edition, Harlow: Pearson A useful starting point for many ideas and concepts
Hedge T, 2000, Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom, Oxford: Oxford University Press For more detail and theoretical background
Lightbown, P and Spada, H, 2013, How Languages are Learned, 4th Edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press (especially Chapter 3) A good introduction to psycholinguistics and second-language acquisition theory
Quirk, R and Greenbaum, S, 1973, A University Grammar of English, Harlow: Longman Don't let the date fool you.  This is still a primary resource based on the more complete and more fully exemplified Grammar of Contemporary English
Thornbury, S, 2017, About Language, 2nd Edition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press More accessible than Quirk and Greenbaum but less comprehensive and aimed specifically at English-language teachers

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