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Teaching House Nomads Blog | November 16, 2018

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How Each Delta Module Helps You Become a Better Teacher

How Each Delta Module Helps You Become a Better Teacher
Barry O'Leary

The ultimate goal of taking the Delta is to help you become a better teacher in the classroom. The Delta is such a comprehensive course that it will tighten you up in all the essential areas, which include lesson planning, knowledge of language acquisition, producing your own materials, and being able to analyse your students’ needs and objectives.

But how does each module turn you into that exceptional ESL teacher that you strive to be?

I enjoyed each module for different reasons, as you’ll see below, and each has contributed to me changing the way I teach and making me a more efficient and all rounded teacher, (he says, still unsure of the difference between present perfect and past simple).

Delta Module 1

Breakdown: What’s involved?

Module 1 is all about the exam. This means not only studying, but doing a variety of detailed tasks, both individually and in groups, which all gear you up for the final test. You’ll increase your knowledge of the ESL world in the following areas:

  • Grammar and vocabulary rules
  • Phonetics and phonology
  • Student language acquisition
  • Teaching all the skills, including reading, writing, listening, and speaking
  • Course book analysis
  • Teaching methodologies

How does Module 1 help you in class?

Knowledge is power

Study up!

By the time you take the Delta Module 1 exam, your brain will be loaded with ideas and theories on teaching, definitions of words you never knew existed, and the ability to write any word in phonetics without needing to type it into WordReference.com.

Thanks to the hours you’ll spend studying and doing the tasks on the Delta course, you’ll subconsciously be turning into a super human teacher. At the time you might not realise this, but when you’re back in the classroom, you’ll have this new weapon of being able to deal with tricky questions and have more confidence to answer students’ queries.

It was while studying for Module 1 when I started to analyse the English language. This completely took the pleasure out of reading because I began working out the parts of speech of each word instead of actually taking in the story or information. I’d test myself on what was a verb, conjunctive or adverb. I became an expert though, and it helped back in the class when explaining grammar rules and complex vocabulary patterns.

What to teach, or not to teach?

Your focus on teaching will probably change a lot, especially as you read a variety of teaching methodologies. While studying for this part of the course, I picked up tons of ideas for using in class, for example, different ideas on how to teach grammar, how to bring in phonetics to class, and how to get the most out of my students.

I spent more time analysing my classes and working out how much input the students were actually giving. I realised I could increase the amount of student practice time and cut out unnecessary sections from course books. This enabled me to focus more on improving my students’ English, and I have seen huge results.

King of Phonetics

I’d always had an interest in using phonetics in class, but never knew how to go about teaching the area. I’d played about with the sounds and symbols, however, I felt like a bit of a fool in class as I hadn’t mastered them.

During Module 1 you read plenty of materials on phonology, and also get ideas on how to use it in class. I started to teach the sounds and symbols immediately, and the students loved the whole concept. It’s still my favourite part of teaching, mainly because I feel it’s extremely beneficial to my students’ progress. By providing students with a written way of learning how they can pronounce words, they can master the language and also teach themselves if they want.

Delta Module 2

Breakdown: What do you have to do?

When you take Delta Module 2, it’s all about teaching. The input sessions teach you how to teach (in theory), and then you have to put everything into practise and, here’s the fun bit, get observed. You have to produce four LSAs, which are projects based around different lessons. One has to be on grammar, and the others have to be a mix of productive and receptive skills.

For obvious reasons, this one helps you in the class more because you’re in the class, duh! You also you get constructive feedback on your lessons which enable you to improve.

How does Module 2 help you in class?

Identify your strengths and weaknesses

From the off you get analysed, vigorously, and pretty soon you find out your strengths and weaknesses. This is great because it gives you a focus over the module and you can set your goals and objectives.

My weakness was voice projection and setting instructions, and I definitely improved. I did in class too, and even now I think back to my Delta when communicating with my class. Once you identify your weakness you tend to be more aware of it and can then rectify any problems.

You can teach skills!

Help students learn how to do skills, not just practice them.

Yes, it’s true; you can help students get better at listening. Well, the ones who are interested in actually listening to you. And that goes for all the skills, speaking, reading, and writing.

Before doing the Delta my lessons were focussed on practising the skills, but not actually teaching how to improve them. Now I do lessons where the main focus is on skills work. Students love variety and they can study the grammar on their own, so you really open their eyes when you teach them certain tricks and activities for making them better all rounded English learners.

The great thing about the Delta is you get to plan skills-based lessons to an extremely high standard and read a ton of theory on it, and then get to put the ideas into practise.

A whizz at lesson planning

After spending up to a month planning one single class, your ability to plan normal classes suddenly becomes a breeze. I find that I spend less time planning now, not because I’m not doing the work, but because I have the knowledge to be able to take on any of my classes without the need to analyse everything. I know where I want my students to be, and I know how to get them there, so less time planning means more time for creating more materials.

Delta Module 3

Breakdown: What’s there to do?

Ever fancied designing a course? Well, doing Delta Module 3 is perfect for that. You have to choose a specific group of students and design a course for them. I did mine on a group of B2 students as I teach this level a lot, and it’s helped me in every course since then.

This module involves more reading, plenty of student analysis, and also creating your own materials.

How does Module 3 help you in class?

Students’ needs comes first

Teach the student, not the lesson!

It can be hard to plan a lesson for all your students, especially when you know little about them. I think the main assistance I got from this module was analysing students’ needs at the start of the course. Normally we know what level they are and where they have come from, but we don’t tend to take into account learner styles and types of learners.

I’m teaching a B1 course at the moment, and after the needs analysis I could see that they needed a lot more help in listening and speaking than writing, so I have planned my course specifically for them. This is not always possible, but it helps knowing that you can or that you’ve at least tried.

Variety of materials

By designing your own course, you learn how to prepare classes from a range of materials. Once you have analysed your student’s needs, you can find the best and most suitable materials from a range of places, not just the course book, and also produce your own.

I make my own materials more often now. I have the confidence to be able to analyse course books and materials online, and then create my own depending on the class. If you want to get into publishing then this module will help enormously too.

How does a Delta help overall?

I’d say that since doing my Delta, my confidence and knowledge has increased tremendously. I got more out of Module 2 than the other modules because I could apply almost everything to my classes. Module 1 less so because not all of the material and definitions were relevant to everyday classes, but I learnt a hell of a lot. Module 3 even less, but mainly because where I work we tend to have a rigid syllabus. It has still helped me get to know my students better though.

A Delta is a wonderful qualification to have if you want to improve yourself as an ESL teacher, and ultimately help your students’ learning process. Why not go for a Delta with Teaching House? Best of luck!

Still not sure if taking the Delta is right for you at the moment? Check out Barry’s other posts on how it changed his life and his advice on figuring out if you’re ready for the Delta!

(Image credit: Alexis BrownSharon McCutcheonSiddharth Bhogra, and Sean Kong.)

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