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Delta terminology, systems and assessment


If you are just starting out on a Delta programme, you may find some of the internal patois difficult to follow.  You may also want to know how the assessment procedures work.
Here's a guide.


Background Essay for an LSA (q.v.).  Each essay must be between 2000 and 2500 words in length.
Oddly, Delta doesn't stand for anything although its predecessor, DELTA, stood for Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults.  Rightfully, the diploma you are going to get is called the Cambridge English Assessment Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.
Recently, someone in the Cambridge, where the ultimate overseers of the scheme work, has decided to re-name the qualification as DELTA.  This is nonsense, of course, because it implies that the term is an acronym when it isn't.
On this site, we'll continue to use the term Delta because we know how to follow the conventions of acronyms and initialisms, but it really doesn't matter all that much.
This is the form filled in by tutors and assessors for feedback / assessment of your teaching assignments (see LSA).  All the criteria are graded as Met, Partially met or Not met.  Overall grades are awarded as Distinction, Merit, Pass and Fail.  Tutors and assessors use exactly the same form.  Click here for a blank example.
This is the feedback form for tutors assessing the PDA (q.v.).  Individual criteria are not graded and there are only two overall grades: Pass or Fail.  Click here for a blank example.
This is the summary form filled in by your centre concerning Module Two only.  You have to sign this form.  Click here for a blank example.
Diagnostic lesson
See Unassessed lesson.
This has two meanings:
External Assessment: this is the name given to the externally assessed LSA (q.v.).
External Assessor: this is the Cambridge-appointed person who carries out the EA and fills in a Delta5a (q.v.) on your work.
Stands for English Language Teaching Management.  You can select to focus on this for Module Three or choose a specialism (q.v.).
The Experimental Practice part of the PDA (q.v.).
Language Analysis.
Lesson Plan for an LSA (q.v.).
Language Systems or Language Skills Assignment.  You do four of these.  Three are internally assessed and one is externally assessed.  They are numbered 1-4 and each consists of two parts:
The Background Essay of between 2000 and 2500 words
The Plan, the Lesson and the post-lesson Reflection and Evaluation.
This applies to Module Two.  When the Delta5a (q.v.), the Delta5c (q.v.) and the paperwork from one of your LSAs (q.v.) arrive in Cambridge, this is what happens.  The paperwork is inspected to ensure that the correct result is issued.  See below under Systems.
This is the name given to each part of the Delta scheme.  You have to pass all three before using the letters after your name or claiming to possess a Delta Diploma.  For more, see the Delta overview.
Professional Development Assignment.  This is part of Module Two.  You must complete this assignment before your portfolio can be submitted but you can pass Module Two even if you do not pass this assignment.  It comes in two parts:
Part A: a four-stage Reflection and Action element.  Here you reflect on your teaching, make an action plan and try to improve where you need to.
Overall, for Part A, you write between 2000 and 2500 words (not including the paperwork for the unassessed, diagnostic lesson).
Part B: the Experimental Practice Assignment where you research, plan, teach and reflect on a lesson using materials, approaches or techniques wholly new to you.
For this part, you write between 1500 and 2000 words (not including the Lesson Outline or any materials).
The old term for the R & E (q.v.)  It stands for Post-Lesson Evaluation.
For Module Two, this refers to all the internal coursework.  Some of this is sent to Cambridge, some may be required by Cambridge.  See systems, below, for more.
This is Cambridge's slightly coy term for a Fail.  It's called referral because you can try again.  If you run out of chances to try again, then the grade recorded is Fail.
R & A
This means Reflection and Action and should not be confused with R & E (q.v.).  It refers to the PDA (q.v.) Part A, stages 1-4.
R & E
The post-lesson Reflection and Evaluation part of an LSA (q.v.).  This used to be called a Post-Lesson Evaluation (PLE) and some terribly old or old-fashioned tutors may still refer to it that way.
Module Three of the scheme requires you either to select to focus on ELTM (English Language Teaching Management) or to select from a range of possible subjects as a specialism.  For more, go to the guide to choosing your Module Three topic.
The assignment is a written essay, externally marked, of between 4000 and 4500 words.  It must be submitted electronically and may not exceed 10MB.
Unassessed lesson
This is also known as a diagnostic lesson.  It forms part Stage 1 of Part A of the PDA (q.v.) and is designed to allow you and your tutors to identify suitable topics for the rest of the Part A of the PDA.  Centres will vary in what is required of you for this.
It is not advisable to use only the data arising from this lesson to select areas for development.
The lesson is unassessed but not unobserved.

Systems and Assessment


Module One: the examination

This Module is about Understanding language, methodology and resources for teaching

Module One is assessed via two, 90-minute written examinations taken on the same day and separated by a half-hour breather.  The examination is normally taken at the centre where you took a course but can be taken at any authorised Cambridge Examination Centre.

These figures are approximate because grade boundaries for each examination are set at grading meeting in Cambridge and may vary slightly.

Assessment looks like this:

m1 marking

You do not need to follow a course in order to enter the examination for Module One of the Delta.
There is a free Module One preparation course on this site.


Module Two: planning, teaching and reflection

This Module is about Developing professional practice

There is a combination of internal and external assessment.

What is considered by Cambridge moderators for Module Two?

Your centre sends the following documents to Cambridge to help the Moderators make decisions concerning the grade you are awarded:

All documents submitted to Cambridge are checked for plagiarism or collusion.  The checks are very thorough.

In addition, the Moderators have before them the External Assessor's completed Delta5a along with the Background Essay, the Lesson Plan and the Reflection and Evaluation that you submitted for the external assessment.
The process is as thorough, fair and objective as it can be.

Requirements for grades.  For all of what follows, there are two important provisos.

You cannot have your portfolio submitted to Cambridge if you do not meet these requirements.
Both your internal work and the external assessment contribute to your final grade.

If your centre sends a skills assignment to Cambridge, the externally assessed lesson must be systems focused and vice versa.
If you undertake two skills assignments internally, you must focus on systems for the externally assessed lesson and vice versa.
In effect, this means you have to pass both parts of one systems-based assignment and both parts of one skills-based assignment to be considered for a pass in Module Two.

The implications are:

Grades are awarded like this:

To gain a Pass grade, you need:
  • a Pass grade in both parts of one internally assessed assignment which is sent to Cambridge
  • a Pass grade in both parts of the externally assessed assignment
  • to complete but not necessarily pass the Professional Development Assignment
To gain a Merit grade, you need:
  • a minimum of a Pass grade for the Background Essay of the assignment which is sent to Cambridge
  • a Merit grade for one internally assessed Planning, Teaching and Reflection and Evaluation
  • three further Pass grades awarded internally
  • a Pass or Merit grade for the Planning, Teaching and Reflection and Evaluation of the assignment which is sent to Cambridge
  • a Pass grade for the externally assessed Background Essay
  • a Merit grade for the externally assessed Planning, Teaching and Reflection and Evaluation
  • a Pass in the Professional Development Assignment
To gain a Distinction grade, you need:
  • at least two Merit or Distinction grades and two Pass grades in the internal coursework
  • a minimum of a Pass grade for the Background Essay of the assignment which is sent to Cambridge
  • a Merit or Distinction grade for the Planning, Teaching and Reflection and Evaluation of the assignment which is sent to Cambridge
  • a minimum of a Pass grade for the externally assessed Background Essay
  • a Distinction grade for the externally assessed Planning, Teaching and Reflection and Evaluation
  • a Pass in the Professional Development Assignment

In summary, the process is: 

m2 marking

For Module Two, you must follow an accredited Delta course.


Module Three: ELT specialism or Management

This module is about Extending practice and ELT specialism or English Language Teaching Management (ELTM).

This Module consists of a single written assignment (plus appendices) of between 4000 and 4500 words which is externally assessed and marked by Cambridge-appointed and trained markers.

At any stage in the following checks will be carried out for evidence of plagiarism or collusion.  These are quite thorough.

All of Module Three is externally assessed by Cambridge markers.  The procedure is similar to Module One but, of course, the categories are unchanged year on year so the system is simpler.  It looks like this:

m3 marking

You do not need to follow a recognised course to enter Delta Module Three.



You can re-take the Module One examination as often as necessary.

Module Two can be retaken but only twice.
You must re-take within a one-year period following the issue of results.
For example, if you are referred in June, you can try again in any two of the October and December sessions in the same year, and/or the June session in the following year.  If you are referred in December, you can try again in any two of the June, October or December sessions of the following year.

You can re-take (i.e., resubmit an amended assignment) for Module Three once only.  You must do within one year of the original submission.
For example, if you are referred in June you can resubmit in December or the following June.  If you are referred in December, you can resubmit in June or December the following year.
If the resubmission still doesn't pass or you miss the deadline, you need to start again and submit a new assignment.



The Cambridge English Delta Handbook states

We provide a service to enable centres to appeal, on behalf of candidates, against assessment decisions that affect grades awarded to candidates, e.g. decisions relating to results and decisions relating to irregular conduct.
Candidates should first contact their centre for advice.
For more information about the appeals procedure, go to www.cambridgeenglish.org/help/enquiries-and-appeals

If you would like to take a short multiple-choice test to see if you have got all this, click here.

You can download a copy of the latest Delta Handbook for tutors and candidates from: