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Preparing for Delta Module Two: Developing Professional Practice


Module Two is the only part of Delta for which you have to take a course with a recognised and accredited centre.  There is, therefore, no course as such on this site to prepare you for the Module.  That does not mean that help is not at hand, of course.
Many courses preparing for Module Two are expensive and all are demanding and stressful.  Anything you can do, therefore, to ease the way before you take a course will pay dividends later.


Demands on your time

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.  It will also mean you can spend more time on research, writing, lesson preparation and your own development as a teacher.
The following applies whether you are taking a full-time intensive course, which, as the name implies, require you to do a lot of reading, writing and research in a short time, or a less intensive programme spread over many months, in which you will need to manage your study time around work and other commitments.

Over the course of a programme for Module Two, you will be required to:

  1. Research and write four Language Systems / Skills assignments.  Each of these has a Background Essay of 2500 words, a Lesson Plan usually about the same length (often longer) and a Post-lesson Evaluation of 500 words.
    That's a total of at least 22,000 words.
  2. Complete the Professional Development Assignment involving planning and teaching an unassessed, diagnostic lesson, completing the remaining three stages of a Research and Action programme and researching and writing an essay for, as well as planning, an Experimental Practice lesson.
    That a total of roughly 3,800 words.

So, for this Module, you are going to write something like 26,000 words in clear, well-researched and accurate English.  For a comparison, the average novel contains around 90,000 words and most Master's degree dissertations around 10,000 to 15,000 words.  In other words, you are expected to produce one third of a novel or two MA dissertations on a course.
You will be busy.

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.

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Pre-course tasks

Good Delta centres will usually require you to complete a pre-course task of some kind.  How long, how useful and how demanding such tasks are is variable but you would be foolish not to do what is asked of you.  Often, parts of the course you take will depend to some extent on the assumption that you have completed the pre-course task and not doing it will place you at an immediate disadvantage vis-à-vis your peers.
What follows does not take the place of your course provider's pre-course tasks – it is intended to supplement them and help you be even better prepared.


What follows?

This guide is concerned with the following:

In each section, there are links to other guides on the site and sometimes a task for you to complete.  How much you do will depend on how confident you feel, where your strengths and weaknesses lie and how much time and energy you are able to devote to this.


Identifying strengths and weaknesses

This is about prioritising your time.  Nobody else is assessing what you write or say here so try to be as honest and objective as you can.  To start you off, try this self-evaluation task to see where you need to focus your preparation.
Click here to download and fill in the task.

Any area which you scored as three or less deserves your attention.  Use the menu on the left to go to the area of most concern to you.

The next thing to do is to write a list of the strengths and weaknesses in your teaching.  No teacher is perfect so do not be afraid of being critical.
If you would like the checklist which follows as a PDF document on which you can score yourself, click here.

Your relationships with your learners:
Do you treat people equally?
Are you approachable yet an authority?
Do you tend to favour the outgoing and contributive more than the shy and silent?
Do you know all your learners' names and use them to make sure everyone is treated fairly?
Your own language:
Are you always understood first time?
Do you use pidgin English?
Do you mumble and mutter?
Is it clear from your voice tone what you intend?
Giving information:
Do you always give the right information about language?
Do you always give the right information about skills?
Do you listen closely to what your learners produce and correct when necessary?
Are you confident that you have analysed what you teach?
Managing the classroom:
Do you have to repeat and repair your instructions?
Do you know why you are monitoring activities?
Do you often run out of time?
Can you confidently handle all the technological support available to you?

Now identify three of the most obvious weaknesses and write down what you are going to do about them and how you believe the Delta Module Two course will help you.


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 the Delta on this site for slightly more detail but here's the summary to keep with you:


In sum, you will need to produce 21 separate documents during the course.  That does not include 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.
If you like, try this little test to see what you know.


Observe others and be observed

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 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.

Now is also a good time, especially if you aren't regularly (or ever) observed teaching to get yourself accustomed to the feeling of having other people in your classroom watching what goes on.
For some people, who teach in organisations where ongoing support and observation are not major priorities, being observed comes as something of a shock to the system.
Now is a good time to make sure that doesn't happen to you.


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.
If you scored less than 4 for statements 5. and 6. on the strengths and weaknesses task above, this is certainly an area you should consider carefully now.
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.


Writing for Delta

Most Delta candidates have taken some tertiary qualification such as a university degree or a diploma at the same sort of level.  That may, however, have been in an unconnected subject area or some time ago.
In either case, it will help you considerably to look at the style guide on this site and work your way through it.  It will also pay dividends if you re-visit it from time to time, especially when you are preparing to write your first Background Essay.
If you want to look through the guide now, click here to go there or here to download a PDF file to keep beside you.

When you have looked at that (or right now, if you prefer) try this little test to see what you know.

There are, of course, guides on this site in the Delta section to writing Delta Module Two essay for teaching assignments and to writing plans and post-lesson reflection and evaluation documents.
There are also guides to the various parts of the Professional development Assignment covering purposes, style and content.
You can find them all from the Delta index.

Briefly, however, you should be aware now that essays for Delta Language Systems and Skills assignments should follow a recognised generic format.  They are Information reports with, usually, an embedded discussion or two setting out the pros and cons of an issue.
They are not expositions because you aren't trying to persuade anyone that you are right.  What you are trying to do is persuade the reader that you know what you are talking about and can analyse and discuss things at a suitable level.
Very briefly, there are four parts to all essays:

  1. Identification of and justification for the choice of area
    You need to be clear about your scope and say why, drawing on your reading and research and your own experience, you have selected this area of concern.
  2. Analysis
    Here you get to grips with the system or skill which is your topic exemplifying everything as you go along.  You will draw on your reading and research, of course, but include your intuitions and understanding as you go along.  In this section, you need to make it clear that you understand what you have read.
  3. Issues for learning and Teaching
    You can choose to combine this section with the analysis to keep you on track and make sure you cover what you have analysed and identify issues for all the key points you have made.
    Here, you need to think very carefully about the possible problems learners from a range of contexts and settings will have with your topic area.  You also need to discuss any teaching issues that are present.
  4. Teaching suggestions and solutions
    In this part you must link your ideas for what to do in the classroom and what techniques and materials to use to the issues you have raised and the analysis you have done.  This is part of your essay, not a parachuted in section.
    In this section, you need to show you have thought about the ideas you present and can see any disadvantages as well as benefits.

For much more detail, start with the guide to writing an essay, linked from the general Delta index.
You can also go there to see what and how you write for the Professional Development Assignment.


Get to know your word-processing program

Cambridge and most centres require documents you submit to be in a certain format, containing standardised data.  In particular, you need to know:

If you don't know how to do any of the things in that list, learn before you start and save a lot of time and heartache.


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 amateur 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 how to transcribe, go to the course on this site.  That will give you the 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:

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:


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 carefully match 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.
Try some of the materials out now (when it doesn't matter too much if it all goes hideously wrong).


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
Take a test Another way to assess yourself is to take the 25-item Delta grammar test.
Glossary of simple grammar terms Things that you really must know for Delta.
A glossary of grammar, lexis and phonology This is a much fuller list for reference.
Other glossaries This will take you to the list to see what's available and what they contain.
The in-service guides The index of guides that you may need now and will need during your course.
The A-Z index Access guides to language systems, skills, background theories and much else.
Look through the index and click on links that intrigue, mystify or motivate you to find out more.
Use it during your course to investigate areas you need to research.


Module Two guides on this site

You can, of course, use the Delta index to access all these guides and more but here is a list for your convenience.  All the following are specific to the demands of Cambridge Delta Module Two but contain much that will be useful on any diploma-level English language teaching course.

Click for guides to:
Preparing for Module Two preparing to teach a Delta lesson
the criteria explained meeting the teaching criteria
choosing an assignment topic what to avoid in the classroom
writing background essays writing a reflection and evaluation
writing your first Delta essay the Professional Development Assignment
10 things not to write the Professional Development Assignment Part A
analysing systems in an essay observing teaching
analysing skills in an essay the Professional Development Assignment Part B
getting a distinction for a Delta essay writing the Experimental Practice: Part B of the PDA
writing lesson plans the external assessment: FAQs



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
Huddleston, R and Pullum, GK et al, 2002, The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press A recent(ish) grammar of English which is above the pedagogic level and provides excellent coverage of critical areas
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

The Delta index