Delta Tips 6: Useful Resources for Module 1 Exam Revision

This is the sixth in a 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! ) 

Delta Module 1 exam revision is a painful process, there’s no denying it. The good news is, the pain can be alleviated somewhat by having a good set of revision materials at your finger tips. Here is an annotated list of resources, divided up by category, that I have found useful:

Methodology:

A trip down ELT Methodology Memory Lane: A webinar by @chiasuan, based on a TESOL France plenary she did – this is a pleasant way to brush up on everything that’s been and gone in ELT and that you might be expected to demonstrate knowledge of in the Delta exam.

Terminology:

Quizlet Delta Class: @Sandymillin has brought together all sets of Delta-related flashcards on Quizlet into one handy collection. You can use this Quizlet class to study and to test yourself on the kind of language you will need to be familiar with to get through the exam.

British Council’s TeachingEnglish website has a useful Knowledge Database  with succinct definitions for all manner of terms, conveniently indexed alphabetically. A good point of reference if there’s anything terminological you aren’t confident about.

Phonology:

Helping students with connected speech on Rachael Roberts’ ELTResourceful site gives a succinct overview of features of connected speech which might help refresh your memory on the subject.

For learning all those symbols for the different phonemes, I recommend Adrian Underhill’s chart – and on this Onestopenglish page  you can also find a link to the Sounds app, if you prefer a more interactive approach and are blessed with an ipad/tablet/thing.

Exam technique:

Delta Paper 1 and  Delta Paper 2 both go into great detail, explaining exactly what it is Cambridge are looking for, as well as all the many, many things Cambridge won’t love you for. So for an in-depth analysis of each paper, including example questions and answers, this should be your next stop.

Sue Swift’s “An ELT Notebook blog” is another very good source of exam technique advice, equally detailed and helpful for filling you in on what’s hot and what’s not as far as Cambridge is concerned. Part 1 is the first of her posts about the exam and logically enough begins with the first tasks of paper 1, and you can follow this series as far as Part 7, a journey which will take you right through to the end of Paper 2! If you register (it’s free!), you can also do a quiz on each paper.

Official Cambridge ESOL offerings:

Here is the official Examination Report for June 2012. It’s long, it’s tedious but it’s full of what you need to know if you want to give Cambridge what they are after! And hey, you were looking for bedside reading, right?!

Want some exam practice? Try Paper 1, June 2010 and Paper 2, June 2010 for size.

When you’ve done, why not check your answers using the June 2010 Examination

If you have written a post/created a useful resource or you have come across a post/useful resource that isn’t listed above and that you think would fit into this collection, please comment below with the link and a brief description. If you are revising for Delta module 1, good luck – and may the Cambridge cards fall in your favour!! 

Delta Tips 5: Module 1, Paper 2

This is the fifth in a 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! ) 

The assessment for Module 1, as every Delta trainee is all too aware, is a 3hr exam. This consists of two papers, each one of which you are given 1.5hrs to complete, making 3hrs of hell in total. This post will focus on Paper 2. (For Paper 1, click here. For a collection of links to resources that might help you with your revision, click here.)

Paper 2 includes 4 tasks:

Task 1 requires you to critique a test, by identifying 6 points, which should be a mixture of positives and negatives, and their applicability to the learner referred to in the rubric.

Task 2 is based on an extract of course book material. In part a, the rubric directs you to focus on certain of the activities in the extract, for which you must identify 8 purposes in relation to the extract as a whole. For part b, you must identify six key assumptions about language learning that can be identified in the same activities that you looked at for part 1 and give two reasons per assumption.

Task 3 maintains the focus on the same piece of course book material as Task 2, but brings extra activities into the mix. You have to identify 10 ways in which these extra activities combine with the activities you looked at in Task 2.

Task 4 is the pot-luck question. It may involve a procedure, a technique or a method, for which you have to list advantages and disadvantages and/or consider the principles behind them. Whatever it is, 20 separate, correct points are required to gain full marks on this question.

Here are my top tips for completing Paper 2 successfully:

Task 1

  • Read the entry on Testing in Thornbury’s A-Z of ELT – it gives a nice overview of different test types and testing issues.
  • Read the rubric very carefully: It provides a brief description of the situation that the given text is being used for and this will, or at least should (if you want the marks…), influence your answers. You’ll be told about the learner’s needs, their level, the purpose of the course and purpose of the test. You are critiquing the test for use in this particular situation.
  • Use a page for “positives” and a page for “negatives” and label them as such (don’t use “advantages”/”disadvantages” or “strengths”/”weaknesses” or any other variation). Using a separate page allows you to come back and add/change things without the page getting too cramped.
  • You must make at least six points. To gain the marks, these six points must be in the guideline answers. If you have time, you may want to include an extra one or two for luck.
  • For each point, you need to indicate the applicability for the learner described in the rubric.

E.g.

Positives

1.

Point: Discrete point testing task type. This allows candidates plenty of fresh starts, increasing the reliability of the test.

Applicability to learner: If X is unable to answer one question, she can still demonstrate her knowledge/ability on the others.

  • You need a mixture of positive and negative points, but this time, unlike with the “strengths and weaknesses” question in paper 1, there is no requirement for the balance to be 3-3 – as long as you include something of each, the balance is up to you.
  • There are a couple of extra marks to be had for using testing terminology – your face validity, content validity, reliability, practicality etc
  • Don’t write too much per point – if you feel the urge to, at least wait until you’ve gone through the rest of the test, have had a stab at answering all the questions and are on the “going back and filling in the gaps” phase.
  • Practice using past papers and checking your answers against examiners reports/guideline answers.

Task 2

For Part a (identifying the purpose of the activities in relation to the extract as a whole):

  • Make sure you indicate which exercise you are referring to and ONLY refer to the exercises that the rubric instructs you to refer to. (It might be worth highlighting/asterisking said exercises, so you don’t get sucked in to writing about others.
  • Use infinitives of purpose, to avoid falling into the trap of describing what the learners do with the exercise.

E.g.

Ex.   Purpose

x       To expose learners to the target language in context prior to focussing them on form

  • Look at some guideline answers and build up a bank of useful infinitives of purpose that you can use.
  • Make sure your purposes are related to the extract as a whole.
  • There are 16 marks to be had, and you get 2 marks per correct purpose. “Correct”, of course, means “appears in the guidelines answers” – so if you can, throw in some extra purposes for good luck.
  • Practice on any course book material at your disposal.
  • Practice using past papers and checking your answers against the guideline answers/examiner’s report.

For Part b (identifying the rationales inherent in the activities focussed on in part a):

  • Make sure you clearly indicate which exercise your assumption is referring to – if you don’t, you won’t get any marks.
  • There are three marks available per assumption/rationale – so you need your assumption and two reasons in order to score full marks for each. (An extra reason per assumption if you can quickly/easily think of one to put may not go amiss – you give yourself more chance of hitting what’s on the mark scheme then)
  • Don’t forget you are only referring to the activities specified in the rubric – this is where having highlighted/asterisked them to start with is helpful: your mind remains focussed!
  • Lay your answer out clearly so that it is easy for the examiner to identify an assumption and two reasons.

E.g.

1.

Assumption: Learners need to see the language in context (Ex. x)

R1: So that they can see how it is used.

R2: This mirrors how the L1 is learnt.

(I actually prefer to make a table for this – one column for assumptions, one for exercise, one for rationale, but don’t know how on WordPress! However you approach it, just make sure you have a framework that focuses your mind on what is required)

  • Use past papers and guideline answers to practice answering and check your answers.

Task 3

  • Don’t forget to do it. (I nearly did in my mock in December, and I wasn’t alone in that!)
  • Highlight the additional exercises that the rubric requires you to focus on (maybe even in a different colour, if your brain works that way!)
  • You need ten correct points for ten marks – as ever, a few extra increases your chances of hitting the guideline answers.
  • Use bullet points so that your points are clearly separated
  • Make sure you mention what exercises from Task 2 the additional exercises combine with. Underline them for good measure.

(I use a table for this one too: One column for exercise, i.e. additional exercise, one column for how exercises combine with the exercises in task 2. Why? Those column headings remind me to mention the exercises from task two!)

  • Think about interaction patterns, skill development, language development, skill balance, degree of scaffolding provided etc

Task 4

  • Don’t panic
  • Use bullet points – make sure each bullet point is only making one point. Keep them as short as possible. You get 2 marks per point, so you need to make 20 correct points in order to gain full marks in this question. The more bullet points you make, the better the odds are that 20 of them will be in the guideline answers!
  • Don’t say the same thing in 3 different ways – you’ll only score for it once! (Ahem…!)
  • Don’t go off on a tangent – keep checking that you are actually answering the given question rather than fabricating your own questions to answer!
  • Write down anything that might be remotely possibly correct, however simple it may seem – you don’t lose points for incorrect answers.
  • Think about different learner levels, contexts, backgrounds, types etc to give you extra ideas for what to write about.

General Tips

  • Don’t forget, Task 4 has the biggest number of points and time allocation, in terms of your time management: It may come last in the paper but it packs a pretty big punch!
  • Use bullet points where possible.
  • Don’t forget to give examples where required.
  • Don’t get bogged down by any of the questions at the expense of others.
  • Task 3 is only worth 10 points – handy to grab if you can, not worth stressing over at the expense of other tasks if you are struggling.
  • Read the rubrics super carefully.
  • Stay calm – move onto another task if you start getting flustered. You can always come back to the one you were struggling on and you may find it easier when you’ve done something else and had a break from stressing over it!

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 1, good luck – it is an interesting experience!! 

Delta Tips 4: Module 1, Paper 1

This is the fourth in a 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 assessment for Module 1, as every Delta trainee is all too aware, is a 3hr exam. This consists of two papers, each one of which you are given 1.5hrs to complete, making 3hrs of hell in total. This post will focus on Paper 1. (For Paper 2, click hereFor a collection of links to resources that might help you with your revision, click here)

Paper 1 includes 5 tasks:

Tasks 1 and 2 deal with terminology. In Task 1, you are given six definitions, for each of which you must supply the correct term. In Task 2, you are given six terms and must give definitions and appropriate example for four of them.

Task 3 is an activity, for which you have to identify five features (type specified by the rubric) that learners at a particular level would need in order to complete the activity successfully. For each feature, you must give an example.

Task 4 is based on a piece of authentic material. You must firstly identify five features that are typical of the genre and include an example for each. Then, you will have 3 further questions focusing on a mixture of form, meaning and pronunciation of selected language from the text.

Task 5 requires you to analyse a piece of learner-produced text. This is usually written but can also be a transcript of spoken language. First, you have to identify 3 key strengths and 3 key weaknesses of the text, providing an example for each. Then, you have to select a weakness to prioritise, giving 3 reasons for your choice.

Here are my top tips for completing Paper 1 successfully:

Task 1

  • Study your A-Z of ELT by Scott Thornbury (if you haven’t got one – either buy it or beg/borrow/steal it from somebody!)
  • Only give one term per definition – if you aren’t sure and put two down, you will not gain the mark if one is correct. (Stands to reason – it’s not the examiner’s job to choose the correct term!)
  • Read a lot – of ELT-related stuff that is, cheap thrillers won’t help you here! – over an extended time period. Repeated exposure to terminology in action will probably help at least some of it sink in. This tip is no good the day before the exam, really!

Task 2

  • Structure your answer clearly. Use bullet points and make it obvious where your definition, further point and example are.

E.g. c. pragmatic competence

Def.: ability to interpret/use appropriately the illocutional meaning/function of an utterance

f.p.: Differs from culture to culture, so learners need to learn how to do this using the target language.

e.g.: “It’s cold in here” could be a request to shut the window.

  • Don’t forget your example or your further point, they are each worth a mark. Your definition will only score one mark.
  • In terms of revision, revise as for Task 1

Task 3

  • Read the rubric carefully: What level learners is the activity aimed at? What type of features are you asked to provide? E.g. “speaking subkills/features of discourse”
  • Lay out your answer clearly

E.g.

Feat.: Questioning others’ opinions

E.g.: “That’s interesting, but what about…”

  • Make sure the features and examples you give are suitable to the level of learner specified i.e. not too easy or too hard.
  • Mentally picture running the activity in class and think about how you’d prepare your learners and what things they might struggle without.

Task 4

For the identification of generic features:

  • Before you look at the text, look at the rubric and how the material is defined, e.g. “a human interest story from a popular newspaper”. Predict what features you might expect to see in such a text. Then look at the text and see how much of what you predicted is there.
  • Practice on any authentic material you can get your hands on – from leaflets to cereal packets.
  • Use  CLOGS to help you get a good spread of features. CLOGS stands for Content, Layout, Organisation, Grammar/Lexis, Style.
  • Check what the rubric specifies you include or do not include e.g. “You must include features of organisation and of language” or “Do not include more than one feature of layout” Make sure you follow these instructions! (Easy to forget in the heat of the moment…)
  • Give an example from the given text for each feature you identify.
  • If your mind goes blank, move on to the next question – this is only worth one mark per feature/example.

For the focus on form/meaning/pronunciation:

  • Use bullet points and break down your answer into as many bullet points as you can without being ridiculous. This will enable the marker to identify your points more easily.
  • Put down anything remotely relevant, no matter how simplistic. (Yes, you can get a mark for saying “you” is second person singular or “the” is a definite article.)
  • You can get the 35 marks allocated to this part of the task from any of the sub-questions (usually b, c and d), so play to your strengths.
  • Put down as many points as you can in time that you have. (Some may not be accepted according to those pesky guidelines answers, so having a few in reserve is never a bad plan!)
  • Use phonemic script for the pronunciation focus questions and think about features of connected speech. Also remember stress. (The sentence sort rather than the Arrrrrrrgh sort ;-))

Task 5

  • Use one piece of paper for strengths and one for weaknesses. That way, you can come back and add things if your mind goes blank and you feel the need to look at another question meanwhile. Label your pieces of paper “Strengths” and “Weaknesses” (not “Positives” and “Negatives” or any other variation)
  • Lay your answers out clearly:

E.g.

Weaknesses

Category: Accuracy of grammar

Explanation: Persistent misuse of present simple

E.g.: “only child never have to”

Effect on reader: may lower the reader’s opinion of the language/cognitive ability of the learner.

  • The “effect on reader” slot is to try and trap the few bonus marks that it is possible to gain in this question. You may or may not feel it worth it in terms of time management.
  • Read the rubric carefully. What level is the learner who produced the text? What areas are you asked to focus on? Highlight them and refer back to them; make sure your answer matches them.
  • When selecting your weakness to prioritise, consider the level of the learner, how pervasive the weakness is and how easy or otherwise it might be to fix it as well as the effect this would have on the learner’s production and on their reader/listener.
  • You must give reasons for your choice – the questions I just recommended you consider in selecting the weakness can become reasons.
  • Lay out your answer clearly:

E.g.

Weakness to Prioritise: Misuse of present simple

Reason 1: At this level, the learner shouldn’t be making this mistake and there is danger of fossilization if it is not attended to.

Reason 2: Prioritising this will enable positive transfer across other genres.

Reason 3: It will greatly increase the learner’s chances of success in exams or in finding a job.

  • There are bonus marks to be had if you include more detail in your reasons: a bare list of reasons gains 3 marks, adding more information can get an extra mark per reason. Whether or not you want to learn the tricks for the extra 3 marks is up to you!
  • Related to the above bullet point: study an Examiner’s report/guideline answers for this question – it is pretty formulaic (something that I gather is going to change when the exam is given an overhaul!) so learn the formula!

General tips for Paper 1:

  • Manage your time carefully: Don’t get bogged down by any of the questions. If you struggle with something, leave it and come back to it – you may find you can answer it when you’ve answered something else and, in doing so, calmed down. If you reach the recommended time limit (in brackets next to the task number), move on to the next task. You can always come back and fill in any gaps if you have time.
  • Do a past paper under exam conditions: This way you can make sure you know how fast you need to write and learn to manage your time. You can work out what order you prefer to do questions in. (If terminology panics you, don’t start with Task 1. Paper is unlimited so as long as you are using a sheet per answer and you hand in all your sheets, you are free in your choice of what order to work in. Doing a mock also gives your hand a chance to get used to extensive, high speed writing! (This is one of the good things about doing the Delta integrated with M.A. in ELT at Leeds Met – you do individual tasks and a complete mock paper to get M.A. accreditation, and that, together with the extra revision classes they chuck in prior to both the mock and the real exam, all becomes a valuable learning process for the real Delta exam! – Let’s just say, in that mock I learnt all about the importance of time management and remaining calm…!)
  • Look at examiners reports and guidelines answers: Cambridge are rather particular about what they want and how they want it – examiners reports and guidelines answers can shed some light on this!
  • Learn how to package your answers. My suggestions above for laying out the answers may seem like a faffy waste of time, but there is a good reason behind them: If you have learnt a framework for answering the question, then once you write down that framework, it focuses your mind on what is needed, meaning you are less likely to include superfluous information or omit essential information. Even if you don’t want to waste time writing down frameworks in the exam, having them in mind will still help you package the answers how Cambridge want them. Making a chart can help with getting your head around answer frameworks, mark allocation and so on.
  • Read the rubrics carefully and highlight essential information like learner levels, features to focus on etc.
  • Don’t write too much – use bullet points and keep them short.
  • Don’t forget to give examples where required

Delta module 1 is about what you know, but it’s also about exam technique and packaging what you know in a Delta marker-friendly way. So it’s definitely worth spending time on that as well as on revising terminology etc.

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 1, good luck – it is an interesting experience!! 

Delta Tips 3: Writing an LSA post-lesson reflection/evaluation

This is the third in a 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.

Having done your LSA assessed lesson (phew!), there is one more thing to do before you can call the LSA done and start afresh on the next one (or, when you reach that joyous moment after LSA4, celebrate not beginning all over again!) – The post-lesson reflection/evaluation. A mere 500 word limit is all you have to:

  • reflect on your planning and teaching as well as the learners’ progress
  • outline the strengths and weaknesses of the lesson (from the point of view of the learners)
  • identify how you might consolidate this lesson.

This is your opportunity to justify all deviations from the game plan (a.k.a. the spectacularly detailed LSA Lesson Plan) and demonstrate how aware you are as a teacher. 

Here are my top tips for writing  a post-lesson reflection/evaluation:

  • Before you start writing your reflection/evaluation, think about the aims/objectives stated on your lesson plan and whether you met them. If you did, what evidence is there of this? If you didn’t, why didn’t you? This might be useful information to include in your reflection/evaluation…
  • Think about how effective each stage of your lesson was, in terms of contributing to the learners’ progress.
  • Don’t do as I did in LSA1 and refer to a lesson stage using incorrect terminology! 😉
  • When you write about the key strengths and weaknesses of the lesson, remember these are from the point of view of the learner. For each one, think about what the effect on the learner was. If it’s difficult to pin down, then perhaps that is not a key strength/weakness.
  • Make sure you justify all deviations from your lesson plan. You are expected to teach the learners as well as the plan, so deviation is acceptable – however, it should be principled deviation. You should be able to rationalise your decisions.
  • When you consider how you might consolidate the lesson, don’t only think about completion of optional activities that you cut: think also about how you would develop the topic, the target language/skills and what other related, relevant target language/skills might connect nicely with what you’ve done.
  • Don’t be overly negative or overly positive. It’s easy to come out of the lesson with rather extreme feelings so be aware of that and don’t allow it to influence your writing too much. Your tutor/the examiner is unlikely to think it was either the best thing or the worst thing ever to happen. It probably wasn’t, though it might feel that way at the time. Remember that!
  • If you’re able to, talk the lesson through with someone you trust, before you write your reflection/evaluation. The act of talking it through may help you process what’s happened more effectively. Also, the thing you thought signified the end of the world as we know it may actually be quite minor – somebody less biased may help you realise this!
  • Ideally, write the reflection/evaluation on the same day as you did the lesson and then sleep on it. Check it over in the morning before you submit it and see if you still agree with what you’ve written. There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep to put things in perspective!
  • Remember, this is your opportunity to demonstrate what a self-aware, learner-aware, reflective practitioner you are – make the most of it!

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!! 

Delta Tips 2: Writing an LSA lesson plan

This is the second 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 at Leeds Met (and surviving to tell the tale! ) 

So, now you’ve written your background essay for your LSA (well done!) and sent a draft off for feedback (you know it makes sense!) – what next? Hopefully you still have plenty of time before your LSA assessed lesson, because this lesson plan is something else. Think of the longest, most detailed lesson plan you’ve ever written and then multiply that by 100 and you might just about start to get the slightest idea of what we are talking about here. Delta lesson plans are notorious – you will at some point fight the temptation to pull out clumps of hair (if you have any!) and you will need to allow yourself plenty of time to meet all the many, many requirements.

I was lucky – I did my Delta at Leeds Metropolitan and there, the tutors are nice enough to offer you a template to use as a framework for your lesson plan. If your centre doesn’t provide such luxuries, then I highly recommend making one. You can do this by using the criteria you have to meet for planning and preparation. (And no, I’m not going to upload the Leeds Met template – if you want it that badly, do your Delta at Leeds Met! 😉 )

In a Delta lesson plan, you need to demonstrate that you’ve thought of everything in great detail. For example (not an exhaustive list – like I said, look at the criteria…):

  • who’s in your class and the nature of the group
  • your aims and outcomes
  • what might go wrong
  • how you would fix what might go wrong
  • how this lesson relates to other lessons you’ve taught the class
  • a thorough analysis of your target language.
  • a rationale for what you are doing
  • the procedure you are going to use to teach whatever it is you are teaching.

Here are my top tips for writing a Delta lesson plan:

  • Make sure that whatever it is you decide to do in your lesson bears some relation to what you wrote about in your background essay. (You could think about using one of your teaching solutions.) Essay and lesson plan should cohere.
  • In your rationale, do NOT just repeat what you’ve written in your essay. The focus in your essay was broader – you were considering different types of learners and learning contexts, even if you had narrowed it by higher or lower levels of learners, whereas your lesson plan, and therefore your rationale, is for a specific group of learners.
  • For your target language/skills analysis, consider form, meaning and pronunciation. For skills, consider sub-skills and relate them specifically to your lesson – you don’t want it to be too general. You need to demonstrate your knowledge of what it is you are teaching.
  • When writing your procedure, think about how whatever activity it is you are planning is going to help your learners do something better.
  • Make sure your lesson aims and outcomes are clear and concise. Make sure they are suitable for whatever level it is you are teaching. Make sure they are achievable. Make sure they are measurable. Make sure they are not too vague.
  • Attach copies of all materials you intend to use and make sure you attribute them appropriately.
  • As with the essay, if you have a lovely tutor who is willing to give you feedback on your lesson plan (be it detailed, super useful written feedback as I had at Leeds Met, or a tutorial, which I have read in an EtP article also happens in some places), then submit a draft in good time. There will inevitably be something you haven’t thought of – your tutor will pick up on it and guide you to notice it.
  • Make sure your timings are realistic and remember things often take longer than you anticipate. Build in a contingency for if things do take longer – or indeed you get through everything too quickly. Make sure whatever activity it is that enables your learners to meet your aims and outcomes, so your main activity, is planned for early enough in the lesson that things taking longer than anticipated isn’t going to mean your learners are unable to finish that main activity.
  • Mentally rehearse the lesson – picture doing everything you’ve written down in your procedure, imagine how your learners might respond and how you could deal with those responses. (I did this while going out for a walk or a run; do whatever helps you think most fluidly.)
  • You will likely be nervous at the beginning of your assessed lesson – it can be handy to make that first activity something that the students can get on with rather than something teacher-fronted, so that the focus isn’t on you. That will give you time to get into your groove and relax, ready for whatever teacher-fronted activities you do have.

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!! 

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!! 

Part 1 – Delta Conversations: (Repost of my Guest Post on Sandy Millin’s Blog)

Sandy invited me to answer a set of questions about my Delta experience, for inclusion on her blog along with other Delta teachers’ answers, to create a sort of guide for teachers who are thinking about doing the Delta and are not sure about how or where to do it. Having done this, I decided to adapt the set of questions and write a post about my M.A. in ELT, which had the Delta integrated into it. If you have any further questions about my experience or about what I’ve written below, feel free to comment or email me and ask – I’ll be happy to answer.

1. How did you do your Delta?

I did my Delta as part of a full time M.A. at Leeds Metropolitan University. This course integrates the Delta modules into an M.A. in English Language Teaching. However, at Leeds Met you don’t have to do the M.A. in order to do the Delta (or vice versa for that matter!), and you don’t have to do it full time either. If you only want to do the Delta, you join for Semester 1 of the M.A., which starts in September. As it is fully integrated, this route would still give you a Postgraduate Certificate in English Language Teaching and Professional Practice from Leeds Met as well as your Delta. You gain the Postgraduate Certificate or M.A. credits by doing Leeds Met assessments as well as the Delta assessments. However, this isn’t as bad as it might sound!

  • Module 1: you do a series of homework tasks, which help you learn how to do Delta module 1 Exam paper questions and these provide 50% of the Leeds Met module 1 credits. Then at the end of the semester you do a Delta Module 1 exam paper. This gives you the other 50% of the credits necessary for the Leeds Met module but also acts as a mock exam for the real Delta exam.
  • Module 2: you submit a portfolio consisting of your Delta module 2 work (LSA essays, lesson plans, PDA) and observation tasks. Leeds Met provides a set of observation tasks as guidance, but you are also free to create your own, tailored to your PDA. These are graded against Leeds Met criteria.
  • Module 3: you do an oral presentation based on your Delta module 3 extended specialism essay. People generally found that this really helped them get their head around their specialism and made completing the Delta essay much easier.

If you choose to do the Delta part-time, you do Modules 1 and 3 one year and then module 2 the following September. The teaching lasts for 12 weeks, and then there are two assessment weeks, the sum of which is the duration of the university’s semester 1.

 2. Why did you choose to do it that way?

I chose to do it this way because I found a leaflet advertising the course in my conference pack at IATEFL and it looked perfect for someone like me who had faffed around a lot in my twenties before discovering teaching and the CELTA. I wanted to gain two of the most highly sought after qualifications in ELT in one go – saving time in the long run and equipping myself, hopefully, to get a stable, permanent job. (That is the plan! I am just coming out of the end of the course, only got a dissertation to go, and am optimistic about the future! Starting with a couple of conference presentations based on work I’ve done for the M.A. portion of the course. It won’t happen immediately but it is now possible and that is distinct progress!) I had thought about doing Distance Delta before but then relocated to the UK, decided I’d rather do it face-to-face style and happened on that leaflet. Fate! In hindsight, I think I would not have coped with Distance Delta, as the whole course was a very steep learning curve for me so I found all the support I had from tutors and classmates absolutely invaluable and don’t think I could have got through without it! We were very much in it together and got through it together.

3. What do you think you gained from doing the Delta?

  • I think the most important thing I gained from doing the Delta is learning how to keep learning. That is, how to be a reflective teacher, how to develop my teaching through research, experimentation and reflection.
  • Also, I learnt how to approach a lesson in a principled, systematic yet flexible way. I would also say that doing the Delta helped my classroom practice to line up more closely with my teaching beliefs.

4. What were the downsides of the method you chose?

I don’t think there were any downsides, to be honest! I suppose, yes, it was incredibly intensive, intense and hard work, but those were good things too. Being completely immersed in Delta for a semester was immense. You have to be ready to put real life on hold for the duration, pretty much, and just work like a demon but it’s an incredibly rewarding experience. I suppose unless you are doing it part-time, you can’t work at the same time, so there’s a financial factor there. Worth it if you can manage it though.

5. What were the benefits of the method you chose?

The benefits? Where to start…

  • One thing I really liked about this course was the way the input sessions were carefully planned so that learning from each module fed into the other two modules too.  For this reason I’d recommend doing all three modules in one go. (I don’t know how intensive courses work elsewhere but I think the Leeds Met way definitely works!)
  • A very important aspect, for me, was all the tutor support I received: LSA1 was a very steep learning curve for me, but my tutor helped me understand what was expected in terms of the essay and the lesson plan, by giving me incredibly detailed and helpful feedback on my drafts. I then managed to scrape a pass in both essay and lesson plan. Following the assessment, we had individual tutorials to get our feedback, which again were very thorough and helpful, and given very supportively. And this, together with similarly helpful feedback on future drafts, enabled me to go from scraping a pass in LSA1 to getting a distinction for my essay and a merit for my lesson in LSA2 and 3. Also, I didn’t realize at the time that it wasn’t standard, until Sandy sent me an LSA lesson plan of hers to look at, but Leeds Met very helpfully provide a template for the lesson plan, which is very helpful in guiding you to meet all the criteria. It sounds like a small thing but every little helps when you are starting off and don’t have a clue what you are doing!!
  • Doing the Delta intensively is a mental and emotional rollercoaster, but the tutors understand that and help you through it. For example, with Module 3, another near-vertical learning curve for me, there was a point just before we got our needs analysis tools back, having previously submitted them for feedback, where I lost all confidence in myself and emailed my tutor saying I was convinced I was going to fail this module and so on, pretty much ready to give up on it, and very quickly had the very reassuring response that I needed to be able to keep going as well as all the support I needed to get to grips with what was required. Module 3 was very well managed actually: we had mini-deadlines throughout the semester, where we submitted drafts of each section of the extended specialism essay and received feedback on those, as well as individual tutorials. I was able to go from not having a clue at the beginning to producing a completed assignment by the end, in structured, well-scaffolded little steps.
  • The camaraderie of the cohort shouldn’t be underestimated either. Having regular contact with a small but close-knit bunch of classmates going through the same thing as you is one of the great things about face-to-face Delta. We jollied each other along, whinged to each other, helped each other, gave each other kicks when necessary and so on.

6. What tips would you give other people doing the Delta?

Top tips from me would be:

  1. Read as much as you can before you start the course.
  2. Do the course somewhere, like Leeds Met, with lots of support built in for all the wobbly moments and a course that seems designed to maximize on the learning potential of all modules.
  3. …Or just do it at Leeds Met!
  4. Read my blog post of top tips for Delta trainees!!
  5. Don’t forget to enjoy it – it’s an amazing opportunity so get as much out of it as you can.

If you have any questions about the course, contact Heather Buchanan (course leader) on h.buchanan@leedsbeckett.ac.uk; if you have any specific questions you want to ask me about my experience of the course, that aren’t answered above, feel free to get in touch – lizzie.pinard@gmail.com.

Disclaimer: This blog post consists of my experience, my views and claims to be no more and no less!

 

Delta Module 1 Wall Chart for Revision

In just over a month’s time, I will be amongst those lucky teachers who will be spending 3hrs frantically writing, full speed, trying to package all the information just exactly how the examiners want it. Yep, the Delta Module 1 exam is getting nearer.

So far, my revision has consisted of creating this handy tool:

photo

Delta Module 1 Wall Chart

I can’t take credit for the phonemic chart, that of course belongs to Adrian Underhill. The map of the Delta exam, however, is miiiine. I have done absurd amounts of reading for my M.A. modules, so between that and the Delta Module 1 input I had last semester, which was nicely reinforced by the Delta Module 2 and 3 input in the same time period, so I am hoping that the key to this exam will be packaging the information the way the examiners want it. And so the wall chart was born. It is a synthesis of all the exam technique tips we discovered in the input sessions and through doing practice tasks, as well as the multiple examiners reports we received.

If nothing else, it was a good excuse to get the coloured pens out! Hopefully, though, having it stare at me for the next month will help on exam day. Time will tell!