The Cambridge Delta and Why I Chose the Intensive Course Option
Since the time I completed my Delta course and overall assessment, I have received several messages from prospective candidates who want to or have to follow an intensive course because no other viable option is open to them.
But often, colleagues have read this or that comment, especially in various forums, and have been intimidated or even downright put off!
The purpose of this post is not to convince people that the intensive Delta course option is easy – why would it be, anyway?
It is a level 7 qualification that allows its holders to be awarded exemptions and credtis from a great number of related M.A programmes in the UK.
And it does give people access to some of the best jobs around! So I didn’t live under the misapprehension that I was going to have a summer holiday in Greece!
The purpose of this post is to clarify some things relevant to the intensive Delta course which I followed (and completed successfully, I will also add!) and hope that those thinking about it will not be frightened away.
My intensive Delta Experience at CELT Athens
The intensive Delta course at CELT Athens lasts for 8 weeks during which candidates attend all Module 1 and Module 2 input sessions as well as introductory sessions on most specialisms available for Module 3, observe colleagues teaching (these could be tutors, experienced teachers on other courses, or other Delta candidates), write 5 background essays for their assignments, design 5 lesson plans and teach assessed and unassessed lessons and complete a Professional Development Assignment which has them taking stock of their progress after 4 points during their course as well as at the very end.
It’s a lot of work.
But hear me out.
It was less intensive than I expected
The intensive Delta course lasts 8 weeks. This means that I had 8 weeks in which to complete 4 LSA’s (glossary at the end of the post) and the 3 parts of the PDA assignment.
People on the online/blended course attend input sessions and write their background assignments throughout a longer period of time (usually 8 months), true.
But they do this while they are working, so for Module 2, candidates on an intensive course have more time than candidates on a part-time one. Of course I didn’t have all the time in the world, but I had more time than expected because I was focusing only on my module 2 work during these 8 weeks.
I was fully focused on my course
My understanding is that people choose the online/blended course because they have other commitments (teaching, family, etc.). People who choose to follow an intensive course, though, are much more focused as they spend 8 weeks dealing only with matters related to the Delta course. Also, because of the intensive nature of the course, it is less likely that one might lose touch with the subject matter. This, in my case, helped me pass Module 1 examination without spending very much time revising Module 1-related content.
I felt that this complete focus on the course without any other distractions is what helped me concentrate, organize my work and do well in all my internal assessments, as well as my final external assessments for my Module 2.
I did not have to do everything at once.
There are, indeed, people who need more time than others and cannot handle many things in one time (like preparation and assessment for 3 Delta modules). However, the intensive course does not necessarily mean that candidates have to submit assessment for all three modules at the end of the 8-week period. The only thing that is certain is that by the end of the 8 weeks, candidates will have finished with all the attendance requirements, as well as with Module 2; whether they choose to participate in Module 1 examination and/or submit their Module 3 assignment at the end of the course is the candidates’ choice.
For example, summer candidates have until the beginning of December to revise for their Module 1 exam and to write and submit their Module 3 assignment. Or, they can wait till the next exam session in June.
I acquired some invaluable organisational skills
Having to squeeze all Delta-related tasks in a 8 weeks makes candidates hone up a number of professional skills. One, inevitably, learns how to organize their time, how to be a better team player (because collaboration with one’s fellow course mates is key!), to combine and synthesise information from different input sessions, to observe, support and help other colleagues and much more! These are skills that I did not expect I would get or improve but which I found of great value when given new responsibilities, for example in my new job supporting teachers.
I learnt how to work under pressure
Being productive under pressure is not everyone’s cup of tea, but teachers do need this skill and experienced teachers who may soon need to acquire more responsibilities either as trainers or academic managers or materials writers, do need to be able to do that!
Following the course I followed an MA course in ELT (for which I got to do 3 modules less than the others because I had the Delta), I got a job supervising teachers for summer school in the UK, worked as an EAP tutor at a University in the UK and, I also got a job with a great local language centre in Greece to help with teacher development and materials writing and, believe me, all these new-found skills have truly made a great difference to my working life.
Take the plunge – it’s a great course and a great experience
No matter what course mode one chooses to follow, the Cambridge Delta is – and will be – one of the most prestigious qualification one can attain. Delta holders are employable for top ELT roles in most – if not all – countries and prospective candidates should not be discouraged by hearsay.
In any case, it should be noted that even those who typically tend to scare people away from such courses or modes of study, when asked, usually confess to the Delta being one of the most eye-opening and significant experiences in their careers as teachers. It was for me, too! So I know!
So, if you are interested in applying for a Delta course, contact the centre(s) of your choice and discuss all your concerns, as well as your schedule and preferred mode of study, with an experienced tutor who will be better able to suggest a course that best suits your particular needs.
Module 1: One of the three Delta modules. Candidates are assessed through a two-part examination,
Module 2: The second Delta module and according to many, the most demanding one. This module’s assessment is continuous and consists of the following parts:
- Four LSA’s (Language Systems/Skills Assignment): Each LSA consists of a 2,500-word background essay, a lesson plan, delivery of a lesson, and a post-lesson written reflection. Delta candidates have to submit 4 LSAs, three of which are internally assessed and one, the last one, is assessed by an external assessor. Of those, two have to be focused on skills (reading, listening, speaking, or writing) and two on systems (grammar, lexis, discourse analysis, or phonology).
- A PDA (Professional Development Assignment): This assignment has four parts. For the first one, candidates teach an observed diagnostic lesson, receive feedback and reflect on their performance and beliefs about teaching and learning. For the second part of the PDA, candidates do the same as with part 1 but this time they do so for their first two LSAs. Part 3 of the PDA involves the design, execution, and reflection of an experimental lesson (a lesson in which the candidate tries out a method/technique that they have never tried before in their career). The last part of the PDA involves the candidate’s reflection on their overall progress and development.
Module 3: This is the third Delta module and is assessed by submission of an extended written assignment on a specialization of the candidate’s choice. Usually, this assignment is about syllabus/course design