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Module One

Page history last edited by Elliott Brett 14 years, 7 months ago


Hi all,

I just wanted to share my feelings of module one of the modular Delta course, with advice, as little is available or known about this on the internet. To simplify my explanations/opinions, I'll use bullet points. I completed the course recently, December 2009, and the exam on December 2nd 2009. The result is due in February 2010 - two months is the said time.


  • Online - no face to face with tutors or fellow students. Some people like this, others like myself do not. The plus side is feeling less pressure as you are at home, but the pressure is always on until you take the exam regardless.


  • The course is designed for one main purpose: learn how to take the exam. Just as you might teach a student to take i.e. the Cambridge PET, you need to learn how to take module one's exam. Underlying this is linguistics and methodology study, but with weekly tests/reports and mock exams - I personally could only focus on the exam, and passing it. It is supposed to be about increasing your knowledge, and it does, but it is hard to not take your eyes off the exam and how it should be done.


  • There is a lot to read, a lot. I read two books a week for three months on varied topics of linguistics etc. And this means cost too - it is pricey buying over 20 books in order to learn more and have a better chance at passing the exam. I highly recommend reading varied books on methodology etc. well in advance of the course; this means you will be able to spend more time on how to take the exam.


  • Cambridge states that you should have a minimum of three years teaching experience. Debatable. With over 15 years experience at the time I took the course, I was learning things I had never heard of (my fault for ignoring them previously). I think it is not so much the time you have been teaching, but more how much knowledge you have of i.e. discourse analysis, pragmatics, CLIL, intrinsic motivation, summative assessment etc. If you know little to none of this, you will have to cram-read it all during the course, and after three months (should you choose to immediately take the exam) you will have to summarise all that crammed-in knowledge into well written, well-informed sentences, answers etc. on the exam. Therefore three years is probably o.k., as long as you are ready and able to speed read & absorb things you have never encountered before. So I personally would recommend a minimum of five years experience (higher chance of having come across more information related to teaching), and recommend you take the course after having read at least one book on varied linguistic related topics and teaching methodology. With this you should have a much better chance at passing, or getting a Merit etc.


  • What should you focus your reading on? The following will help: 


  1. First and second language acquisition.
  2. Language testing and assessment.
  3. Discourse analysis.
  4. Phonology (with a little Phonetics).
  5. Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking skills.
  6. Language teaching methods/methodology/concepts.
  7. Vocabulary/Lexis - teaching.


  • What else can help with the course and exam:


  1. Advice Jeremy Harmer gave me: rather than read every chapter of a book front to back, first read the conclusion and then the first page or two of a chapter - this helps focusing on what you need to read, and helps avoid reading what you do not need to read. There is a lot of information that is not needed for module one's exam. Focus on what your tutors tell you to focus on. Bell school (my school) informed us well here with exactly what we needed to know. The books however include more than you need.
  2. Summarise your summary! You need to improve or learn summary skills. The exam demands short, concise and well-informed responses/answers/explanations. You are on a short time limit for every section of the exam, and you will be pushed to read fast, and write very concise and well informed responses. Past examinees failed due to writing too much, or writing what they were not asked to write about, or for simply being ill-informed. For practice, try writing about a certain topic i.e. why you think the author of your school textbook wrote the unit in such a manner - why is Exercise One like this? What is its purpose? How does Exercise One relate to Exercise Two? How does it relate to the whole unit? After you write your answer - summarise it. Use bullet points. What are your students' strengths and weaknesses? Write your answer - then summarise it!
  3. So - know a lot about language teaching, and be able to explain that knowledge concisely. This is the main point of module one in my eyes.


  • Do what you are told. I started the course fighting against what Cambridge wanted me to do. I believed, and still do, that language teaching is varied, eclectic, and individual in the teacher's eyes. In the end the students are looking at you, looking up to you, not the teachers in the next room. However, this is a Cambridge exam, and they have rubrics and requirements. The course, and the course tutors will tell you how to abide by what Cambridge wants from you. For my first mock exam I wrote how I wanted to write and failed. For the second mock I wrote what Cambridge (and the tutors) wanted me to write, and passed.


  • The exam itself: FUN! It was tough, but honestly, I really enjoyed the whole atmosphere of it. Three hours of teaching (writing) loveliness where you prove your skillz:) The underlying aim really is to become a better informed teacher, and the course will make you that.


  • My one and only complaint about the course? I am not an academic. I have no university degree, and my last exam was in high school a long time ago. I was terrible at exams, even with consistent good grades during the courses at school, I still failed just about every exam because I couldn't hack the situation. So during module one, I felt (other students too) panic about the exam, and this led to not focusing on improving my knowledge as a teacher - not good at all. I was told by one tutor that most people tend to really 'learn more' after the course has finished where you reflect and slow down, and so absorb more. This is much like the Celta, where most of my real learning came after finishing it! Personally I would prefer that no exam existed, but then, if the teacher (you) cannot follow rubrics and cannot do what you are required to do, how can you teach your students the same when they need to take a formal exam? The idea I guess is to discipline yourself.


So! If you want to learn a lot, and can take the pressure, and really want to prove that you care about your profession: Go for it!


Best wishes,


Elliott Brett




Comments (16)

Nergiz Kern said

at 3:29 pm on Dec 11, 2009

Dear Elliott

Thanks so much for sharing your experience with Module One of the new DELTA course! This is a very insightful account.
These personal accounts are very important for many of those taking the exam.

I was one of the last who did the "old" DELTA course in 2007 but I think when it comes to the exam not much has changed, except that I did the preparation onsite during the two-month intensive course.

I agree that having had many years of teaching experience alone won't help alone in passing the exam or any of the other modules of the DELTA. I saw teachers with ten years and more experience struggling with it.

You give very good tips on how to tackle the exam, lots of background reading and doing timed mock exams on top your teaching experience is the key.

I also thought the exam needs to go but you make a good point. It does put us in the shoes of our students who have to take exams and who we have to prepare for those.

Thanks again and best of luck!


Elliott Brett said

at 1:09 pm on Dec 18, 2009

Hi Nergiz,

Thank you for making the site! It really helped me reading your work and opinions of the course:)

I now have the problem of how to do Module Two - it is expensive and awkward as I live in Japan:( So I might do Module Three first, then after having had more time to save money - go for Module Two.

Take care,

Best wishes.


Katya said

at 7:53 pm on Dec 23, 2009

Hi Elliot,

Thanks for sharing! It really helps a lot to read about the course. I'm hoping to take DELTA in 2010 and will be reading a lot now ;)

Here is the question for all: I still don't quite understand the new DELTA modules. Some schools that have DELTA courses still advertise an 8 weeks full-time courses. And somehow it doesn't make sense to me with the three modules. How does it work?


P.S. is this the right place to post a question?


Bindyuu said

at 10:37 pm on Feb 6, 2010

Thanks all
Before reading all this, I could see me and only me in a dark tunnel. I see some light in my tunnel now.
I'm starting with DELTA module one from February 10, 2010.

Nergiz Kern said

at 4:04 pm on Feb 7, 2010

@Katya, I have done the 8/10-week intensive course as one of the last before the modular system started. I assume you can still do the DELTA in intensive mode completing one module after the other. I think it is best if you write to the centers that interest you and ask for details.

Laura said

at 8:16 pm on Mar 6, 2010

Elliot - I'm new to this space and also took the Dec 2009 exam. How did you do?

Elliott Brett said

at 9:28 pm on Mar 6, 2010

Hi Laura,

I got what I hoped for: Pass. I expected a borderline Pass/Fail. In December I thought, if I get a Pass I'll retake it & try & get a Merit. But Module Three starts for me next week, and to be honest, a Pass is not a Fail, so move on;)

Laura said

at 9:40 pm on Mar 6, 2010

I did not pass and Cambridge doesn't have any way to tell me where I went wrong. So...back to the drawing board of preparation for the June exam at the same time I'm doing mod 2! Thanks for your thoughts about how to study. I feel as if I'm turning around in circles most days.

merypereiranunez@... said

at 6:02 pm on Mar 8, 2010

Hi all!

I really like this site and I wonder if any of you have DELTA module 1 past papers to share with me, I'm taking module 1 in June and I'm desperately looking for practice. I'd really appreciate your help!

Laura said

at 7:48 pm on Mar 8, 2010

There are two past papers out there now. I'm pretty sure you can find them on the Cambridge ESOL website or from other DELTA sources. The first one is from Dec 2008 and the second from June 2009. The Dec 2009 (the latest exam) paper has not been published yet.

Bindyuu said

at 6:52 am on Mar 30, 2010

Hi Elliot
Can we get solved sample papers from somewhere? I have seen one set on DELTA handbook.
Do you have a copy of your solved assignments to share for reference?

Elliott Brett said

at 7:53 am on Mar 30, 2010

Hi there,

As far as I know Cambridge do not give out the specific details of the exam & how they specifically grade it - I was given that from my tutors. Also, because I paid a lot of money to get my work graded, I really don't wish to share it sorry! I can give my work out, but minus tutor comments & grades to be honest won't help you much at all as I got mainly Near Passes during the course - other students got much better grades than me, so my work isn't really the best for reference other than what not to do;)

Either contact Cambridge, or get onto the course to find out how it really works;)

Best regards,


Bindyuu said

at 9:45 am on Mar 30, 2010

I truly understand your take Elliot.If you don't mind please share your work minus your tutor grades.
Another query...
What was your take on memorizing vs. understanding for the DELTA Module 1 exam?
Do I need to move to rote learning for the final exam?

Nergiz Kern said

at 11:31 am on Apr 2, 2010

I don't know how much the exam has changed compared to the old DELTA which I did but it was not about memorizing at all. What will help you most is lots of teaching experience, knowledge of coursebooks and rationale behind tasks or activities in them, a lot of background reading, and doing mock exams/examining past papers. In my course we did a lot of preparation for the exam, which was extremely helpful.

pandreop12@yahoo.com said

at 1:41 pm on Apr 26, 2010

In fact, I do concur with the idea that DELTA is a both highly theoritical and practical course....and takes a lot of time and commitment on our part to pass it...

I do not fear exams.. I do not fear hard work...I do not fear expenses (Books, conferences, seminars, socialising with colleagues, both locally and internationally based)...WHAT fears me most is that I cannot afford the time to study in -depth for the course as much as I would like to do...and you all know why????

Because I run a foreign language centre in the middle of nowhere, (somewhere in Paros, Cyclades, Greece) , I teach 12-14 hours per day, with 30 minutes only at my disposal for lunch..no breakfast, no dinner.. ..
There`s time for big changes in order to improve my career and take it seriously...like shut down the school in order to pass the Delta exam...BE A PROPER STUDENT...not a freelance teacher ,struggling to work for the government and pay taxes to no professional avail...

Mind you, i do already have
Pass- Coursework
Pass- Extended Assignment
Written Exam- Fail (2)

Laura said

at 2:39 pm on Apr 26, 2010

I'm getting ready to take the exam for the second time (June 2010) and still do not feel prepared for it. I've studied hard, I've studied broadly, I continue to teach and look at every lesson with a new eye now. But, I've had to postpone my participation in the Module 2 course in order to find the time to study and I am completely stressed out from the fear of failing it again. I think a lot of the problem with the exam is trying to prepare for a vast unknown - there's so much material to cover and so many different opinions from ESL experts. Yet, there's no way to narrow it down to something that you expect Cambridge to ask. In my review group, we're trying to guess (based on old exams and past papers) which modals will come up in the LA section of Paper 1 - would? could? should? Or perhaps some determiners like there were in the December exam where we had to analyze "it's" and "its" in a group of sentences. It's all a big gamble - the best resource I've found so far is Scott Thornbury's About Language. But even those exercises force me to keep my grammar books close at hand. It's a shame Cambridge won't allow the use of one grammar book during the exam.

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