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Delta Module Three ELT specialism: choosing your topic


What are the choices?

Before you set out on the Delta Module Three, you need to consider how you will choose the topic.
Here are the options according to Cambridge's Handbook for Module Three:

These are large areas in themselves so within your choice, you will need to narrow the scope to something manageable.  For example, within Teaching Examination Classes, you should focus on a particular examination and designing a course to prepare people for it.  Within English for Specific Purposes, of course, the range of possible specialisms is very wide.
Nevertheless, in the introduction to your Module Three essay, in which you review the general area and set out the key issues, you need to focus on the specialism as a whole, not the group or the course type which will later be the focus.
That means, for example, reviewing the key issues in teaching examination classes before you focus on a course designed to prepare for a particular examination.  Equally, if your focus is on English for Specific Purposes, you need to review the general area of ESP teaching before you get to the details of the course you are designing.

For an example of how to situate your particular concerns within the wider scope of the general topic, see the overview of Business English which attempts to do just that by setting out what Business English is, where it happens and what the needs of people following courses are.
English for Academic Purposes also has a section to itself on this site, here, and Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) is covered in a rather general way here.

In addition, you may choose to focus on ELT management for Module Three.  For this, you will have to select from four areas:

  1. Academic management
  2. Human resource management (HRM)
  3. Customer service
  4. Marketing

There is more advice in the guide to selecting a management option topic (new tab).  Here, too, the advice is to narrow down the area to something like, e.g., Introducing a new course management system or Enhancing in-house development programmes etc.


How do I decide?

That's a very wide choice so, to narrow it down, look at the things you are going to need to do for Module Three and ask yourself whether you have enough background knowledge and experience already to know what you need to research and read.  Now is not a good time to be considering something wholly outside your teaching experience (unless you have a lot of time on your hands).

In outline, again from the handbook, you must do five things:

  1. research a chosen specialism
  2. understand and use appropriate methods of needs analysis/diagnostic assessment for a specific group of learners
  3. understand and apply key principles underpinning syllabus design and course planning
  4. consider learner assessment and course evaluation
  5. synthesise all your learning into a project which can be coherently presented to a third party


One at a time


Research a chosen specialism

For this part of the Module, you will be assessed on your grasp of the topic area.  This includes:

Review of the relevant literature in the topic area
This means you have to have access to a range of resources, of course.  For certain topics, such as CLIL, there really isn't much available.  For others, such as Business English, there's a wealth of data.  Choose something practical to research.
Understanding of key issues in the topic area
Note the words 'key' and 'in the topic area'.  Points here have to be relevant and prioritised by importance.
Application of knowledge to practice and identification of key issues
If you have little or no experience of teaching in your topic area, you will find this very difficult to do.  You need to refer to classroom practice here.

Understand and use appropriate methods of needs analysis/diagnostic assessment for a specific group of learners

For this part of the module you will be assessed on your understanding of testing and needs analysis and your ability to examine the results and justify priorities for the learner(s).  There is a key guide on this site to testing, evaluation and assessment but you will need to apply this to your chosen topic.

  1. You will need to understand how diagnostic testing works, how it can be made valid and reliable and what sorts of tests are appropriate to the learners.
  2. Then you will have to analyse the results of the test(s) and needs analysis and discuss the outcomes and implications.

Understand and apply key principles underpinning syllabus design and course planning

Here, you have to show that you understand the key principles of syllabus and course design.  There's a guide to syllabus types on this site to get you started.
Then you will have to set out a justification for the learning aims that emerged from the testing and needs analysis.
Finally, you need to design the course.


Consider learner assessment and course evaluation

Again you will need to draw on your knowledge of achievement testing (and making it valid and reliable) and also on a range of other ways to evaluate how successful the course has been.
There are two strands to this:

  1. Assessing learner progress, both formatively as the course progresses and summatively, at the end.
  2. Evaluating the successes and failures of the course itself in meeting its objectives.

Synthesise all your learning into a project which can be coherently presented to a third party

This means weaving everything together into a coherent whole.

If you have followed the guide to writing Delta background essays you will be aware of the ways to make sure you maintain relevance and reference acceptably.
The genre of Module Three is fundamentally an information report but it's a long document so there will be embedded sections which follow the staging and structure of a discussion, setting out arguments on either side of an issue.
For much more on writing the essay and giving it an accessible and logical structure, see the guide to writing the Module Three essay, linked below.
For a little more on this, review the guide to genre in English for Academic Purposes.

Clearly, no site like this can cover all the specialisms so only general structuring advice can be given.
That's the topic of the guide to how to writing the essay.

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