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Delta Module Three ELT specialism: the introduction


This is where set out your stall and impress the reader with the quality of thought, research, reading and reflection which has gone into making your Module Three essay.

Get this part right and the rest will follow.  The graphic on the left is designed to remind you of the essentials.

The suggested word count for this section is 1,100 words, give or take 10%.


Choice of specialism

Sometimes specialisms overlap.  For example, if you are teaching a monolingual group who need English for a Specific Purpose, you must decide whether your Module Three focuses on ESP or monolingual groups.  You can't begin until you have done that.
See the guide to choosing your Module Three specialism for more (new tab).


What the Introduction covers

This is not the place to discuss:

  1. the nature of the group which is the focus of your specialism.
  2. the course you have designed.

Both of those come later.

This is the place to:

  1. Focus on wider issues and show that you really know what you are writing about.  That means lots of reference to reading and research but you should also draw on your own experience and knowledge.
  2. set out why you have chosen this specialism (but keep it brief), basing your comments on:
    • your experience
    • the need to learn about and design a course for this specialism
    • your professional needs now or for the future
  3. Discuss the underlying theory which relates to your specialism and applies to this type of course, not this specific course.  For example:
    If you are focused on a particular examination (say, CAE), remember that specialism you have chosen is Teaching Examination Classes, not Teaching CAE.  Equally, if your focus is on teaching English for Air Traffic Controllers, your specialism is ESP, not Air Traffic Control language.
    You have to show:
    • a thorough understanding of all the key issues
    • that you are comfortable with the terminology and concepts used in the area
    • that you have read at least five sources concerned with the specialism and can summarise and integrate the ideas (check out the reading and reference list for Module Three, linked below)
  4. Set out a critical discussion.  I.e.:
    • Do not simply cite from authority; react to it.  You need to show that you can see more than one side to an issue.
    • Make sure you can handle the generic characteristics of a discussion.  That means either:
      • setting out all the positives on one side of an argument or issue and then setting out all the negatives, or
      • setting out each point in turn, commenting on the positives and negatives in an integrated way
    • Do not assume that authorities agree.  Especially, in well researched fields (such as EAP or ESP) there will be many shades of opinion concerning best practice.  It's your job to navigate through the field and come to an appropriate decision for yourself.  Whatever you conclude is OK, providing you have good reasons for reaching the conclusion.


Review what you have written

Because the introduction is so important, read through it again when you have finished (or think you have) and check how a reader will react to it.  In particular,

Will a reader know:

  1. exactly what area you have chosen and why?
  2. what theories and principles you have researched and find most relevant to your undertaking?
  3. what ideas from your experience and observation of others you have included in your discussion?
  4. what you have found out that will inform the rest of the essay and the design of your course in particular?

If the answer to any of these questions is No or Maybe, go back and re-write some of the introduction.

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Avoid the obvious errors

Examiners' reports contain more or less the same catalogue of weaknesses year after year so be careful to avoid any of the following being levelled at your introduction.
For this section, the most frequently cited problems are:

Test yourself on the contents of this guide.

The Module Three ELT Specialism areas:
Choosing the topic Writing the essay The introduction Needs analysis
Testing Course proposal Module 3 reading list Before you submit