Delta Tips 1: Writing a background essay for an LSA

This is the first in a new series of blog posts I’m doing in response to the number of Delta-related searches that bring visitors to my blog.  Each post in this Delta Tips series will deal with a different element of the Delta, based on my experience of doing it (and surviving to tell the tale! ) at Leeds Met.

The LSA (Language Systems/Skills Assignment) background essay is the starting point for each LSA that you do to complete Module 2 of the Delta. You do 4 LSA’s in total, 3 of which are assessed internally and 1 of which (the final one) requires an external assessor. 2 LSA’s must be systems-based (Grammar, Discourse, Phonology, Lexis) and 2 must be skills-based (Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening).

An LSA background essay is the synthesis of all your research relating to the specific area of the system or skill you have chosen to teach for your assessed lesson, and you are expected to cram a lot into your 2500 words Cambridge allows you. Each essay needs:

  • a clear, detailed analysis of the specific area you have chosen, with reference to a range of relevant literature
  • an analysis of the problems that may be faced by learners when a teacher teaches them this specific area, with reference to your experience as well as the literature.
  • a set of solutions to the afore-mentioned problems, each of which must be carefully evaluated and include reference to your experience.
  • a list of all references used in the essay
  • appendices containing copies of any materials referred to in your teaching solutions

Here are my top ten tips for writing a successful LSA background essay:

  • Read widely and relevantly (obviously…)
  • If the area you have chosen is rather large, use your title and introduction to narrow it down a little, for example by focusing it on higher or lower level learners.
  • Be concise (You may well find yourself re-reading and re-reading your essay, removing all phrasal verbs and non-essential articles!)
  • Make sure your structure is clear and easy to follow (the examiners won’t be your friend if you don’t!)  – You can use headings and sub-headings and numbering systems to help you with this. You need to make sure there is a clear link between your analysis of language/skill and your teaching solutions.
  • Make sure your language analysis takes meaning, form and pronunciation into consideration, while your skills analysis should include coverage of any relevant sub-skills and meaning/form/pronunciation analysis of any associated language, for example structural language related to telling anecdotes within a speaking skills essay.
  • Make sure your analysis of problems includes reference to a range of teaching contexts (different ages, levels, locations, L1’s etc)
  • Make sure you explicitly evaluate your teaching solutions, with reference to your own experience of using them. Phrases like “In my experience..” and “I have found this valuable because..” and “I have found this effective in…” are all useful!
  • If you are lucky, as I was, and you have a wonderful tutor who is willing to liberally cover your essay in feedback on how to make it meet Cambridge requirements, then make sure you submit a draft!
  • Related to 8. above, don’t spend too long reading before you start writing. You can always reopen books to fill in any gaps. This is particularly important for intensive courses, where time is tight and you need to manage it very carefully in order to get draft feedback and prepare your lesson plan (and get draft feedback on that!) prior to the assessed lesson.
  • Related to 8. and 9. above, don’t spend too long writing your LSA essay. You need enough time to fill in a ridiculously detailed lesson plan and hopefully get feedback on that too.

If you think I have left out anything essential, or simply have any helpful tips to add, please do so by commenting on this post. If you are embarking on Delta module 2, good luck – it is a valuable learning experience!! 

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8 thoughts on “Delta Tips 1: Writing a background essay for an LSA

  1. Pingback: Delta Tips 2: Writing an LSA lesson plan | Reflections of an English Language Teacher

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  7. Thanks so much for bothering to do this. I’m just about to start an intensive module 2 course with IHLondon and your blog has been a great source of information.

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