The DELTA/M.A. treadmill! An update…

It would seem that I have not written a post since the 30th June this year! WordPress has gone and changed everything around since I was last here – I can’t say I’m desperately impressed with the changes but there we are – and I feel rather a stranger to the blogosphere.

In my last post, I described my euphoria in gaining a place on a DELTA/M.A. course at Leeds Met University, that I had discovered through picking up a leaflet at IATEFL. Since the 17th September, I’ve had a full time place on this DELTA treadmill and every last shred of energy has gone in to producing mountains of work to meet the flood of deadlines that was unleashed upon us from the get go!

Today I have finally emerged from the DELTA bubble. I haven’t quite finished it BUT I am, at last, getting off the treadmill momentarily and drawing breath. So, I thought I would share my thoughts on my experience so far…

1. DELTA is hard.

2. DELTA is hard.

3. DELTA is hard.

4. DELTA is hard.

Ok, ok, ok…I’ll get serious now…

1. If you sign up for a DELTA, do yourself a favour: do a ton of reading before the course starts. Take it from me, it *really* helps. Also, learn the phonemic alphabet. (I recommend Sound Foundations by Adrian Underhill or if you aren’t a reader – in which case God help you on the DELTA – this presentation of his on youtube is a winner! )

2. When your tutors tell you how to structure an L.S.A. (Language Systems Assignment/Language Skills Assignment, assessment for DELTA module 2), listen to them… Don’t try and be a clever Maverick. You will just have to redraft the essay to make it as you should have written it in the first place! (Ahem…)

3. The P.D.A. (Personal Development Assignment, another part of the assessment for Module 2) is “only” a pass/fail document. Do not be fooled by this into thinking that it is not important/can be put on the back burner: It is, in fact, key to your development as a teacher. The more you put into it, the more you will get out and the more you will improve between LSAs.

4. The E.P. (Experimental Practice) is part of the P.D.A. and equally important: If you follow the process fully, it trains you in the research – experimentation – evaluation cycle that is necessary for the P.D.A. Of course, in the P.D.A. you don’t need to produce an essay or Delta lesson plan, but the process of reading up on things, trying them out and reflecting on how it went is one that should be repeated as many times as possible throughout the course – and theoretically beyond too.

5. When preparing an L.S.A., don’t procrastinate. Do the reading, draft the essay, draft the lesson plan. Then go back and use any remaining time to hone. You will need it.

– If you do the Leeds Met course, make use of the drafting process: Between them, the tutors probably have nearing a century of experience to your (in my case) 2.5. They are willing to take your draft and liberally cover it with comments (feedback) on what is needed to bring it up to standard, *if* you submit it. Conclusion: don’t be a fool, submit it!

– If you do your DELTA anywhere else, make sure you find out what the procedure is, what help is available to you and make use of it!

6. Keep up with all the deadlines. *Including* those relating to Module 3, which it may be tempting to back burn in favour of working on your LSAs. They may seem like utter bastards but they are there to help you not end up with the worlds supply of work breaking over you in a big wave in the last week of the course. Even if you keep them, there is still *plenty* to be getting on with, don’t worry… (Where I’m at now…)

7. Make sure you *really* WANT to do the DELTA before you start doing it. You are going to live, eat, breathe, sleep it for 2-3 months (depending on the length of the course at your centre).  This may be soul-destroying if you are only doing it because it vaguely seemed a good idea at the time.

8. If, at interview, your tutor tells you that you need to hit the ground running, take it seriously. They aren’t saying it to scare you/amuse you, it’s just the truth. If you don’t, you risk eating dust for the whole course.

9. Don’t put all of your energy into the LSA essays and leave your lesson plan till the last minute. It takes longer than you might like to think to fill that bad boy in to meet Cambridge requirements! Also, the more thought you put into your lesson plan, the easier it is to “perform” the class under pressure.

10. Write the LSA essay before you write your lesson plan. Funnelling your essay into your lesson plan is a lot easier than extrapolating an essay from that half-baked idea for a lesson you had on the bus yesterday. Hell, the half-baked idea may fit in somewhere and become fully cooked, but you might also decide, by the time you’ve finished your similarly half-baked essay based on it, that it’s actually lousy – better to decide that in the process of writing a decent essay.

11. Be concise. I’m not. We all know that. But it helps to be, given Cambridge want the whole world in each 2500 word LSA essay and the whole world many, many times over in the Module 3 extended 4500 word essay.

12. Read Sandy Millin’s post on doing the distance DELTA for a proper survival guide to the DELTA!

I’m exhausted, I have to a practice presentation tomorrow (for the M.A. component of the course, based on the essay for DELTA module 3) but I’m still alive! I also have a pass and two merits to my name for the LSA lessons and a pass, a distinction and an as yet undefined borderline merit/distinction essay for the essay components. I have learnt one hell of a lot on this course  and despite the gruelling nature of the programme have really enjoyed it too. Naturally there have been times when I have wanted to throw in the towel – this I believe is part of the process, it would be pretty abnormal to sail the whole way through the DELTA! It’s just not designed that way! – and I regularly curse Cambridge, but nevertheless it’s been challenging and rewarding. Well worth the struggle.

If you are thinking about doing the DELTA, make sure it’s the right choice for you, and if it is, best of luck with it! Make sure you find a centre with supportive, experienced tutors (you would hope this applies to all DELTA centres, but who knows?! Best enquire in advance as to what support systems are in place – tutorials? feedback? etc) – it makes a big difference.

I may do a more serious post about the DELTA sometime in the future, but for now I just wanted to pop my head round the blogosphere door and say hi to everyone in the virtual staffroom before disappearing back under the next wave of work that’s about to break over me…

Farewell till next time I come up for air! 🙂

(Update: more serious posts can now be found in Delta tips and an overview of my Delta experience at Leeds Met)

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14 thoughts on “The DELTA/M.A. treadmill! An update…

  1. I agree 100 %.
    Thanks for sharing. The DELTA drives u crazy but it does change your teaching and the PDA is one of the best parts!!!

    • Yup, all true! 🙂 I’ve really enjoyed mine. Hoping I can still say that after the module 1 exam and handing in my module 3….oh and my final module 2 assessment… Still quite a bit to do really! But have finished all the input sessions.

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  6. All great tips. I’d add:
    – Also read About Language by Thornbury before the course starts and again just before your exam
    – Agree about writing the essays first, but you’ll learn relevant stuff while writing to lesson plan, so have another look at the essay after writing the LP too

    • Hi Alex, thanks for sharing your tips – I agree with both! In fact, I did the whole of About Language (all the exercises) in advance of the Delta, definitely found it helped. And I also went back to the essay after doing the lesson plan – back and forth in fact. I think the key thing is not to get bogged down, so that you end up with time to do the back and forth-ing.
      Best wishes,
      Lizzie.

  7. Pingback: Delta Module 1 – Before it all begins | David Harbinson

  8. Pingback: Doing the Cambridge Delta: A Guide | Reflections of an English Language Teacher

  9. Hi Lizzie

    Is there any resource for module 1 with the new format from 2015?

    Thanks for your blogs.

    Amena

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