Tips for passing Delta Module One without taking a preparation course

Professional development plays a very important role in my teaching life. Having a CELTA is all well and good, but you can’t live off that for the rest of your teaching career. After all, it’s just a pre-service certificate that gives you a very effective formula for delivering classes, though using some of those techniques doesn’t work in all teaching contexts. If you wish to keep improving your teaching skills, it’s necessary to have an open mind and be dedicated to continuous learning.

Delta and DipTESOL are advanced certificates that will take your teaching to another level. They can also open more doors for you in terms of career prospects. If you are considering moving into management or teacher training, you’ll probably need to get a relevant Master’s degree or one of these two certificates. I chose to pursue the Delta because of the fact that there are a few places Latin America where it can be taken. That said, you should bear in mind that many employers in Colombia have never heard of it, but don’t get discouraged by that! You’ll grow as a teacher and your students will definitely appreciate that. The most prestigious institutes and universities here are familiar with this qualification, so getting a Delta could lead to new job opportunities.

Delta Module One

The Delta is composed of three parts that can be taken independently, and you get a separate certificate after completing each module. When you have passed all of them, you will officially become a Delta-qualified teacher. There are numerous ways to take the Delta, but one thing is certain: you have to work hard to get the certificate. Getting ready to tackle Module One took me four months of preparation while working long hours in my full-time position. It wasn’t a very pleasant experience, but I am very happy that I did it.

Delta Module One is a three-hour written exam, which takes place in June and December. There are numerous course providers offering preparation courses and I wanted to sign up for one of them, but my payment didn’t go through, so I decided to prepare for the exam individually. You can simply contact an authorised centre and register as an independent candidate, so I decided to take my exam with the British Council in Bogotá. Not spending money on a course proved to be a good decision because I managed to pass the exam with a good grade. There are tons of resources available online, so if you are a disciplined and organised person, you can prepare for the exam by yourself.

My exam preparation consisted of three phases. I spent the first two months reading ELT books and taking detailed notes. I had read only a couple of titles during my CELTA course, and I felt that I needed to read literature that goes beyond tips for teaching practice. I selected the following eight books:

Adrian Underhill: Sound Foundations
The CELTA provided me with some basic ideas on pronunciation without going into details, so reading this book proved to be extremely useful. I finally managed to learn the phonemic chart and features of connected speech, and it gave me confidence to focus on pronunciation in my own classes.

● Scott Thornbury: About Language
This is a crucial title for Delta Module One because it will help you prepare for the language analysis section, which represents 50% of the points you can obtain in Paper One. About Language is a must-read!

● Patsy Lightbown & Nina Spada: How Languages are Learned
Language teachers should be familiar with the main theories related to second-language acquisition, so this is another very important title. I really enjoyed How Languages are Learned because it is well-written and refers to relevant research.

● Jack Richards & Theodore Rodgers: Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching
This book provides an overview of various methods that have been used to teach English. Even if you never try them out your own practice (Suggestopedia says hello), knowing what they are based on is very helpful for the exam.

● Scott Thornbury: Beyond the Sentence
One of my favourite ELT books ever! Beyond the Sentence deals with discourse analysis, which is a fascinating topic for me. Thornbury uses relevant real-life examples, and there are some genuinely funny passages in the book to make your studying a little more cheerful.

● Arthur Hughes: Testing for Language Teachers
Assessment is another important element of Delta Module One. This book does a great job of explaining how testing works, and you will need that knowledge for the first task of Paper Two.

● Jeremy Harmer: The Practice of English Language Teaching
This book is worth reading because it covers numerous ELT-related topics. It’s a comprehensive resource written in a way that is easy to understand, and it points you to other titles that will help you study specific areas of teaching practice more in depth.

● Scott Thornbury: An A–Z of ELT
You are expected to use correct terminology in the exam, so this is another title which should be read from cover to cover.

After all that reading, I went down the rabbit hole called ELT Concourse. I have already written about this amazing website in this post. ELT Concourse contains a very helpful Delta section, which provided me with a lot of detailed information related to the topics I had read about in the books. I also brushed on my knowledge of grammar thanks to the tests available on the website. I am really grateful for the fact that the content is available completely for free.

I allocated the last month for getting ready for the exam itself. First, you should definitely read the Delta handbook because it gives you clear advice for answering the tasks. I also bought How to Pass Delta written by Damian Williams, an experienced Delta tutor who is familiar with the grading criteria. Sandy Millin and Lizzie Pinard provide valuable tips for tackling the exam on their blogs. Module One isn’t only about your knowledge, but you need to learn how to answer the questions as well. I guess many of the candidates who fail the module (38.8% in 2018) underestimate this part. You have to use precise language and include information that may appear obvious to you.

You should also download sample exams (One and Two) with an examination report from Cambridge’s website. There are also older past papers with correct answers available here thanks to some kind strangers from the internet. The 2016-19 past papers (without answers) can be found here. Please note that the exam was tweaked a little in 2015, so you need to pay attention to this list of changes when checking the older papers.

It’s also a very good idea to go through the past papers under exam conditions. I gave myself 90 minutes for Paper One, a 30-minute break, 90 minutes for Paper Two, and then I compared what I wrote with the correct answers. I found this strategy very effective because it gave me a clear idea of what to expect during the exam itself. You may also need to train your wrist to cope with writing by hand for 3 hours! My past papers practice yielded promising results, so I travelled to Bogotá feeling quite optimistic.

There were no surprises in the exam. I found Paper Two pretty straightforward and completed it a few minutes before the time limit, but Paper One was a bit tricky. Many people recommend doing Task 5 first and I should have listened to their advice. I spent too much time on the previous four tasks, which meant that I didn’t manage to write as many details as I would have wished in the last one. Anyway, two months after the exam I found out that I received a pass with merit, so I didn’t lose that many points because of my flawed strategy.

Delta Module One was a very demanding experience, but I feel that I really benefitted from it as a teacher. It pushed me to re-evaluate some ideas that I had held at the beginning of my teaching career, which led to positive changes in my own practice. I highly recommend this exam to every English teacher interested in professional development.

What a weird year!

This blog is a product of this year’s events. At the beginning of 2020, I moved to a new city with a list of beautiful places in Santander that I wanted to visit. The idea of having my own website hadn’t even crossed my mind before mid-March. When our in-class courses got suspended and various measures were imposed in Colombia, I suddenly found myself with a lot of free time. Since I don’t like being idle, I decided to start writing down my thoughts about my experience with teaching English in Colombia. There is quite a lot of information about this subject, but it is fragmented across many websites, so I made the decision to set up a blog to publish all my posts in one place.

Festival de Luces, Villa de Leyva

I now receive visitors from search engines and not only from my social media connections, so let me quickly introduce this blog. Since launching TEFL in Colombia in September, I have been publishing a new article every Sunday at 10am (Bogotá time zone). I try to write about various topics related to teaching English in Colombia as a foreigner, and that’s why there are a few different post categories. I have published the following articles so far:

Teaching and CPD
The importance of teaching qualifications
The curious case of native speakerism in Colombia
ELT Concourse is a priceless resource
Tips for getting a CELTA Pass A
Six ELT blogs worth following
Applying for a teaching job in Colombia (post-pandemic)

Life in Colombia
Everybody wants to live in Medellín
My experience with learning Spanish
Valle de la Samaria: Colombia’s hidden gem
Cañón del Combeima provides a good reason to visit Ibagué

Interviews
Jennifer Soto: We need to adapt to this new reality
Ndana Chibanda: ELT in Colombia is a mix of fun and hard work

Important documents
● How to obtain your work visa, partner visa and cédula de extranjería

If you enjoy this type of content, consider following the TEFL in Colombia Facebok page, where I post links to all articles. WordPress users may follow this blog through the Reader. There is also an option to subscribe for old-school e-mail notifications, which doesn’t seem to be very popular. Whatever way you access this website, I appreciate the fact that you feel this blog is worth visiting. I am always happy to see my readers’ reactions on social media, and it motivates me to keep writing.

I know that posting a new article every week may not be sustainable in the long term. In fact, I am going to take a short break from blogging and try to enjoy this vacation period. I plan to be back with new content in the middle of January.

The good news is that I have plenty of ideas for posts. I managed to read some interesting books in preparation for my Delta Module Two course (which was cancelled), so I would like to write about ELT literature that I have found useful for my teaching practice. I definitely wish to continue conducting interviews because I enjoy talking to other ELT professionals about their work.

I am also open to publishing guest posts. If you are interested in contributing to this blog with your own article, feel free to get in touch.

Let’s hope 2021 will be a little more cheerful!