Cambridge Delta FAQ

My posts about the Delta qualification have attracted quite a lot of visitors, which shows that many readers are interested in professional development. Since I have finally passed all three modules, I feel that this is the right time to publish this post addressing frequent questions about the diploma. As always, this article is based on my own experience and I recommend checking out other sources of information as well.

Cambridge Delta FAQ

Is it worth the money and effort?
First and foremost, you need to be sure that this qualification is right for you; I can’t imagine anyone doing this just for fun! For example, you are expected to have a Delta if you wish to become a CELTA trainer. However, if your main career goal is to teach at an international school, then it would make more sense to pursue another qualification. I did the Delta because I wanted to improve as teacher and I’d like to become a teacher trainer in the future.

This certificate certainly isn’t cheap. If you really need to save money, then the most economical option would be to do Module One and Module Three as an independent candidate without taking a preparation course. Module Two can’t be done without attending a course, and I believe the most affordable ones are provided by ITI Istanbul and ATI Ankara.

Should I get a Delta or an MA in TESOL?
This depends on your career goals and the country in which you wish to work. Some places prefer a Delta, others feel that a relevant master’s degree is more valuable. Delta is accredited by Ofqual at Master’s level in terms of content, but there are clear differences between the qualifications. I decided to do the Delta because it is considered to be more practical. It makes sense to do both of these qualifications, though. My MA is in an unrelated field, so I’ll probably have a decision to make at some point in the future. Some universities provide Delta-qualified teachers with credits and exemptions in their master’s programmes, which is something worth exploring.

How much teaching experience do I need before doing the Delta?
There are no official requirements for any of the modules. In fact, Module One and Three can be done by anyone who wishes to do so. Module Two is a bit trickier because you need to convince a provider to accept you into their course. The Delta handbook recommends having at least a year’s ELT experience, but I think it would be a very bad idea to take a Module Two course with so little experience in teaching.

I took the Delta Module One exam in June 2019 two years after doing my CELTA, which was still relatively early, and then I managed to pass Module Three in June 2020. Finally, I started my Module Two in January 2021 as the least experienced teacher in our group of trainees. Everything turned out to be fine in the end, but having more experience in various teaching contexts would have been an advantage.

Do I need a degree or CELTA to do the Delta?
No; see the question above. However, it helps to have both before doing the Delta. A degree is a visa requirement in many countries and it’s something important for making progress in your teaching career. It may also be useful in terms of academic writing because you need to be really strong in that area in order to pass M2 and M3.

Having a CELTA isn’t essential, but it provides you with teaching foundations and helps you familiarise yourself with the way Cambridge teaching qualifications work. It has its drawbacks, which is understandable since it’s just a four-week course. My Delta Module Two tutors kept mentioning CELTA’s shortcomings during the course and it was nice to understand what they were referring to.

What’s the best way of doing the Delta?
Everyone’s circumstances are different. If you can afford to take time off from work and do the full-time Module Two course, then it could be a good option for you. There is a plethora of possibilities, so you should choose the one that suits you best. You can do in-class, blended, and even 100% online courses, and each of them has its own pros and cons. The most important thing is to make sure that you can dedicate enough time to the Delta because there are no shortcuts and you’ll simply have to work very hard to get the diploma.

Can I do the modules in any order?
Yes, and this is an advantage of this qualification. I think the most logical way is to do the modules in the traditional M1 → M2 → M3 order, but it’s good to have the option to choose another strategy if your circumstances require it. For example, when I finished Module One, I decided to do Module Three next because it was much more convenient at that time. There are no Module Two providers in Colombia and fully online courses weren’t approved in 2019.

Some tutors actually recommend doing Module Two first, but I think it would have been too early for me at that stage of my teaching career. I felt that doing the other two modules before M2 helped me prepare for the most challenging one. I definitely wouldn’t recommend doing Module Three first, though. I struggled with it because I hadn’t gone through the experience of writing background essays for Module Two LSAs.

What is the most helpful resource for passing the Delta?
ELT Concourse. There is so much information that it may seem daunting at first, so you need to take it one step at a time.

Is it as difficult as everybody says it is?
Yes, but it’s doable. Let’s check the 2019 worldwide pass rates:

Module One: 57.6%
Module Two: 83.3%
Module Three: 78.1%

The good news is that you can sit the Module One exam as many times as you wish. Module Two is a bit trickier because you need to pass the internal coursework in order to be eligible for two LSA4 retakes, otherwise you need to repeat the whole course. Module Three can be resubmitted once. If your second submission fails, you’ll have to select a completely new topic and start afresh.

How much hoop-jumping is needed to pass the Delta?
A lot. Module One isn’t only about your knowledge, but you need to know how to answer the questions. The essays in the other two modules are about cramming key information into the main body of the document with strict word limits. Every single detail counts and you need to make sure that you haven’t forgotten to include something important.

I certainly wouldn’t describe working on the written assignments as an enjoyable experience because they made me want to tear my hair out at times. That said, I guess this is necessary since Delta is a standardised qualification and not allowing candidates to have much freedom in writing helps with marking the assignments. It does feel like unnecessary torture at times, but by successfully completing the diploma, you prove that you are capable of following specific instructions and complying with strict requirements.

Can I call myself a Delta-qualified teacher after passing Module Two?
I wouldn’t do it. You need to complete all three modules to obtain the full diploma.

Will having a Delta on my CV help me get a better job?
When it comes to Colombia, International House, British Council, and a few reputable universities do recognise the Delta. However, run-of-the-mill language institutes and many universities often have no idea what it is, so you’ll be offered the same terms as someone with no certificate because the word Delta doesn’t appear in the institution’s salary structure. From what I understand, this happens in some Asian countries too. It’s a bit sad, but it leaves you with two options when applying for that kind of job: Ruffle some feathers and try to educate the employer about the Delta, or look for a better position somewhere else.

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