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How to Know if You are Ready to Take the Delta
Knowing whether or not you’re prepared to take the Delta is much like deciding whether you’re prepared to have a baby; you’re never actually ready. You can put the decision off, year after year, and find excuses: lack of funds, not enough free time, not wanting to come out of your comfort zone, or just wanting a social life.
I had a long hard think about doing a Delta for at least a couple of years before embarking on one of the most challenging courses known to man. My main reason for delaying this vital decision to advance my ESL career was that I thought it wasn’t necessary. Why put myself through torture for a year? What was I going to achieve? At the time I was really into my writing as well. I was halfway through a novel and my blog was getting more traffic and comments.
It was for personal reasons that I eventually decided to give it a bash. I was sliding closer to my mid-thirties quicker than my students were getting their B2 certificates, and my wife was also craving one of those small people who cry a lot. It was now or never.
There was no way I was going to absorb the information from Delta input sessions on only three hours sleep a night, so that pushed me into making the final plunge and signing my life away to Cambridge for a year. I know people who have done it with a new born baby though, so don’t let that put you off.
Not everyone is the same though. Here are some sure signs that you might, or might not, be ready to take the Delta.
Going stale in class
Have you got to the stage where you’re going stale in the classroom, like a mouldy cheese sandwich in the staffroom? Perhaps you’ve been teaching for a few years and are wondering whether there’s more to this illustrious ESL life?
If your brain is starting to fizzle and you’re getting bored in your own classes, then a Delta might bring you round. As you go through the different modules you’ll start to pick up more ideas for your classes. You’ll get a fresher look on the way you teach, and once you’ve completed all the modules you’ll have plenty of ideas for keeping your students, and yourself, entertained.
Are you a mess in front of all adult students or just intelligent, inquisitive ones?
Do you often find yourself getting stuck in class? Perhaps, like I was, you’re being eaten alive by demanding adult students who want to know why for everything. Do students ask you complex grammar questions or want to know all the parts of speech for all the words in the text (if they do, they might need a word in the ear after class).
Maybe you’re just tired of winging explanations, or having to refer to an online dictionary every five minutes and losing the concentration of your superbly attentive students. There’s only so much blagging you can do before they realise you don’t actually know anything about your own language.
We are not walking dictionaries, unlike some students may think, but we are expected to be able to explain a lot of rules and exceptions. When you do the Cambridge Delta your knowledge of the English language will double. Your brain will become so much more powerful that you’ll be able to smash away those queries easier than Ronaldo scores goals with overhead kicks. You’ll turn into a modern Shakespeare who can pull out answers from your magical brain and amaze students with your super intelligence.
Keep your boss, and colleagues, off your back
Has your boss been going on about you moving up the ESL ladder? Does your company want more from you before you get that company car and meal allowance? Maybe your colleagues have also done the Delta and you are the baby of the group, the poor naïve newbie who has outstanding lesson ideas, but who no one listens to on the bus home.
Having a Delta under your belt will give you that recognition you so much desire. Your boss will suddenly think a lot more highly of you, give you the respect you deserve, and your colleagues will turn to you for advice and help. You’ll become a better teacher, and with that everything else will fall into place.
Ants in your pants
Maybe you’re just anxious and need to feel alive. Perhaps you thrive on enduring challenges that will evolve you into a greater person. Alternatively, you might be spending more time gazing out the classroom window than your students, wondering just how far you can take this career called TEFL.
A Delta is a logical step for those who have been in the class for 4 or 5 years and need something to get their teeth in. Doing it will certainly open doors for you. After putting yourself through this vigorous test, plenty of opportunities await. You could become a DOS or a teacher trainer, get into publishing, or even open up your own language academy and earn some real money — or at least have a nervous breakdown trying to.
Tons of cash and free time
Maybe you’re loaded and want to splash some cash into the Cambridge Delta fund, just for the crack. Maybe you have a long trip to work, so you can easily do the Delta while you’re on the metro. Or you don’t really need to plan your lessons anymore and have loads of time free in the day to study multiple books on teaching theories, pronunciation, and grammar. You might even enjoy being observed in stressful situations and being grilled more than a T-bone steak. If all the above is you, then get going and sign up!
Joking aside, the Delta is a huge commitment — just think about your CELTA course, then imagine an even more intense course! You’ll need to have time, and lots of it. Motivation is key to stay on top of the work load as you go through the modules, which can take over a year. And it’s good to be think about the Delta pros and cons. Sure, you’ll get stressed, have no time for anything else, and have to give up your precious weekends, but afterwards you’ll find life in the classroom a lot easier, tricky students will stop being a pain, and adults will be intimidated by your extensive knowledge of the parts of speech.
So what are you waiting for? Sign up with Teaching House and start your Delta.
And if you’re still unsure, here’s a little quiz to check — are you really ready to take on a Delta or not?
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