Cambridge Train the Trainer FAQ

If you are interested in professional development courses leading to certificates issued by Cambridge Assessment English, you may have come across the following framework of teaching qualifications. This image is a simplified version of a table that can be found in the Delta handbook for tutors and candidates:

Cambridge Train the Trainer FAQ

Even though Train the Trainer is an advanced qualification, there isn’t much information available on the most relevant website, so teachers on social media keep asking for more details. I have just finished this course with IH Lima, and I hope that those interested in obtaining this qualification will find my post helpful. Please note that this article is based on my personal experience and online research, which means that you should always double check everything with an authorised course provider.

Why is Train the Trainer placed slightly higher than Delta on the framework?
Good question. Train the Trainer is definitely not that demanding! I believe the main reason is the fact that Delta is supposed to make you a better teacher, but it doesn’t prepare you for being a trainer. I guess the idea behind this is that you should at first reach a certain level of development as a teacher before getting involved in training.

Do I need to have a Delta to take this course?
No. Having a Delta is an advantage, but the course provider may accept candidates with other qualifications. The course is aimed at experienced teachers interested in teacher training, and each application is evaluated individually. I am sure that having Delta Module One and Three certificates helped me compensate for my relative lack of experience and get accepted onto the course.

Do I need to have training experience?
Again, it’s desirable but not obligatory. I had delivered just a couple of workshops before taking the Train the Trainer course.

I have been training teachers for many years. Should I take the course?
There were some experienced teacher trainers on my course, and their comments were really positive. Many trainers receive very little support and have to figure out a lot of things by themselves, so they will benefit from receiving formal training.

What areas does the course deal with?
The Train the Trainer course comprises these six modules:

The training class focuses on the main differences between teaching students and training teachers.
Analysing and designing training sessions will show you how to plan a variety of input sessions.
Delivering training sessions is the most practical part of the course. You may be asked to plan and run a mock training session.
Observing teachers consists of watching a recorded lesson and analysing it as if you were the observer.
Managing feedback helps you identify various ways of giving oral and written feedback to teachers. You analyse a recorded feedback session as well.
Course planning and trainer development goes beyond standalone sessions and teaches you how to plan longer courses. You also receive advice on further professional development opportunities for trainers.

How long is the course?
Approximately 30 hours. There are even intensive week-long courses for those who can afford to take time off from work. I chose a course that lasted 8 weeks and consisted of 4-hour Zoom sessions every Sunday, so it didn’t interfere with my job.

What do I have to do to pass the course?
When it comes to the course delivered by IH Lima, you just have to attend all the sessions. Other providers might have other criteria, but there is no final exam and you don’t need to produce any written documents to be sent to Cambridge Assessment English.

How can I learn something from a course without formal assessment?
The course is structured in such a way that you can’t just sit back and listen to other people. In addition to your tutor’s input, there are many tasks you have to complete and plenty of interaction with other trainees. I enjoyed talking to experienced teacher trainers and I feel that I have learnt a lot from them.

Is the course standardised?
Other bloggers have taken the course with different providers, and it seems the course content was pretty much the same. I recommend reading Rachel Tsateri’s reflections and James Fuller’s series of eight blog posts with information about each session. My tutors used materials provided by Cambridge Assessment English, so I don’t think there will be huge differences between courses.

Do I have to work for the centre running the Train the Trainer course to be accepted as a trainee?
No. The course is open to external candidates as well. Most of my colleagues on the course were from Peru, but there were also participants accessing the Zoom meetings from Ecuador, Uruguay, Scotland, and Bangladesh. I was the only trainee based in Colombia.

How can I find a course provider?
I think Cambridge Assessment English could do a little bit more to promote the course. Unfortunately, you can’t find course providers using this otherwise helpful Find a teaching qualification centre search tool. Google doesn’t always help because there are other courses of the same name that aren’t related to teaching at all. What you have to do is look for training centres running Delta courses and check if they offer Train the Trainer as well. I have found the following providers:

South America: IH Lima, São Paulo Open Centre, Seven
Europe: ACE TEFL, Applied Language Studies House, CELT Athens
Asia: Apollo English, ATI Ankara, ICD Lahore, ITI Istanbul

This list is by no means complete. If you would like me to add other providers, please get in touch and I’ll update this post.

What can I do with the Train the Trainer certificate?
You become eligible to train teachers on the CELT-P and CELT-S courses.

Will this course help me become a CELTA trainer?
Not directly because you have to go through a separate training process for that. You can read this series of posts written by Anthony Gaughan for more information. That said, the knowledge gained on the Train the Trainer course definitely applies to CELTA trainers too, so I suppose having this qualification on your CV may increase your chances of becoming a CELTA trainer in the future.

Is taking this course online a good idea?
I don’t think that attending the Train the Trainer course through Zoom represents a major issue. Our tutors used this platform in an effective manner, and I really enjoyed the activities we were asked to do in breakout rooms.

However, it was quite disappointing to see that the materials weren’t adapted to the online environment at all. We simply received the handouts that are used on in-class courses as PDF files. Some trainees actually printed them out, which of course meant that they couldn’t share their notes on the screen. The handouts are full of useful information, but working with them wasn’t a user-friendly experience. I believe that the materials should have been shared as Word documents or made editable by using a tool such as PDFescape.

That was my only criticism of the course; I found the content very useful for my professional development, but I think that persisting with the PDF file format wasn’t a step in the right direction. I don’t know how exactly other course providers share the materials, so I recommend that you ask them about that during the application process.

My bumpy ride with Delta Module Three

If you are looking for general information about the Delta, you should read this post about Module One. In short, I recommend pursuing this qualification if you are interested in making progress as a teacher. Delta requires a lot of hard work and commitment, but it’s worth the effort. My Module One experience was very positive, and I believe that it is perfectly possible to pass the exam without taking a preparatory course. Well, let me tell you that I will refrain from making comments like that about Delta Module Three because I found it much more challenging.

Cambridge Delta Module Three

After passing the Module One exam without major difficulties, I felt confident about facing a new challenge. Since Module Three consists of writing an essay that is sent to Cambridge as a Word or PDF file, you can simply submit it through any authorised centre in the world. There are many useful courses you can take, but you are also allowed to complete your assignment without any assistance. You just need to contact a provider and arrange this option with them. I contacted several centres in Latin America, but for some reason the Cambridge fee in this region is almost twice as expensive when compared to other centres. I found out that you can find the most affordable option by contacting the distance learning providers listed here. Some of them even offer limited tutor support if you don’t want to pay for the full course.

There isn’t an easy step-by-step manual for passing this assignment because its content depends on what you find out during the process. At first, you have to select a topic, research it and identify key issues. It is recommended to write about an area that you are involved in, so I chose ‘Teaching monolingual classes in Colombia’. You need to have access to students in order to perform a needs analysis and a diagnostic test. The results are then used to design a 20-hour course which includes assessment and evaluation. There is a strict limit of 4,500 words for the main body of the assignment, so you can expect to use plenty of appendices to support your ideas.

It is necessary to read the Delta handbook to see what is expected, and I highly recommend going through the 2020 Examination Report as well. There is a lot of useful information provided by ELT Concourse, Lizzie Pinard and Sandy Millin. Every assignment follows the same outline, but you can’t just read someone else’s work and use the same principles in your own essay because your teaching context and students will make it a unique piece of writing. All stages need to be logically connected and you have to justify your choices, which makes this module very challenging. In fact, it took me four months to complete it while working full-time.

My decision to work on Module Three independently wasn’t very smart because I had to resubmit my assignment. I felt sorry for ITI because they let me submit my work through their centre without any tutor input and I damaged their statistics a little bit. Fortunately, the examiner’s report showed that only one section of my assignment wasn’t good enough, so I didn’t need to redo the whole essay. I eventually passed Module Three after submitting it through NILE, whose tutor generously offered to read my draft at no extra cost. The tutor confirmed that I had taken the examiner’s feedback into account, and that put my mind at ease.

If you want to make your life easier, you should pay extra money for a Module Three course. You can decide to work on it alone, but in that case I recommend that you ask someone to read your assignment before you submit it. Although an experienced tutor would be the best option, it could also be someone who is familiar with the way Module Three is graded because Cambridge assessors expect you to present the information in a specific manner. You have to state the obvious and make explicit references to other stages of the assignment, which is quite tricky when you have a strict word limit. If you make the same choice like me and try to tackle this module before completing Module Two, you may find the writing process very challenging.

Asking someone else to read your essay is beneficial in terms of proofreading as well. My tutor pointed out a couple of embarrassing mistakes that I had made. While I find it easy to spot issues in other people’s texts, I can’t seem to transfer that skill to my own written production. I am pretty sure that there are errors in my posts on this blog, but my brain is simply incapable of detecting them.

Even though my road to obtaining the Delta Module Three certificate was far from straightforward, it was a very rewarding experience. I learnt a lot about curriculum design, which was an area I hadn’t explored before. Analysing my students’ needs was really enlightening, and it made me think about the way I can make my courses more personalised. Designing a course and a series tests from scratch was very helpful because I had to think of my choices all the time and consider how my students would benefit from that. You have to jump through a lot of hoops to successfully complete it, but this Delta module is very beneficial for your teaching practice.