How Delta Changed my Life

 | Teaching House Nomads Blog

Are you at the stage in your ESL career where you need a challenge? Desperate for a reason to push yourself further? Wondering whether there is more to life as an English teacher abroad?

I felt the same five years ago. I knew I was a reasonably decent teacher. I had experience teaching most levels and ages. My students were getting positive results and improving their level of English, but I often wondered whether I was pushing myself, and my students, enough.

That’s why I did the Delta, and it changed my outlook on ESL completely and opened up lots of opportunities. What follows are a few reasons why doing the Delta changed my life, and could also alter yours, for the better.

Growth in confidence

Even after six years teaching, I’d still get nervous in front of a class, especially large groups of high level adult students. Out here in Spain, adult students can be ruthless and demand lengthy explanations for everything. I’d get caught out teaching grammar, and flustered with on the spot questions about complex rules.

Don’t get me wrong, I still stumble and fall. I mean, we aren’t walking dictionaries. After putting myself through the Delta I’ve learnt so much about the English language, teaching techniques, and ways to plan ahead. My confidence has grown immensely. I can now deal with tricky questions, and provide reasoning for complex rules without turning into a blubbering mess.

Expert at Phonetics

Before the Delta, phonetics were a weird trick that I’d pull out my magic hat occasionally to ‘impress’ students. I was a fan of phonetics, but was unsure how to teach them.

The Cambridge Delta course trains English teachers to get better at phonetics and pronunciation

“It’s comfortable, not com-for-table. Look, it’s easy, the phonetics are like this.” I’d say, attempting to write the symbols on the board while peering at my phonetic chart.

What’s great about the Delta is that it forces you to write phonetics fluently. You have to read several books about phonetics and pronunciation and get tested on it in Module 1. You also need to be able to write it in Module 2, while being observed.

Learning phonetics is no easy task, but I quickly took to it as I could see the benefits immediately with my students. Now I teach students the sounds and symbols in two or three sessions and pronunciation is a regular part of my classes. I play phonetics games and do activities with songs too. Most students enjoy it as it’s not often covered in standard ESL classes. I’ve even had students download apps onto their mobiles and come in telling me how to pronounce words. Sometimes they sound better than me.

Increased status

I like to think I’ve gained a lot of respect from my bosses, trainers, colleagues, and also students after doing the Delta. I’m not saying that suddenly you become Mr or Mrs Know-it-all, (well, maybe some might), but it enables you to share your knowledge, aid others, and create a better atmosphere at work.

My boss often asks me to help new teachers, which I enjoy immensely. I’ve always been the helpful type, but now I can comment on most topics and have more ideas to share.

When I teach a class of adults, particularly higher level ones, I always try to slip in the fact I have a Diploma in teaching. This sets them at ease and normally gains respect as they notice I’m serious about teaching and have the necessary expertise to improve their English.

Not just a grammar teacher

The Delta training prepares teachers to teach more than just grammar, but students' listening, speaking, reading and writing skills as well

I never thought it was possible to do lessons on skills. I mean, surely students improve their reading and listening by reading and listening more? Having input sessions and observed lessons on skills really opened my eyes. Now I know it’s possible to improve students listening, speaking, reading and writing.

I find teaching skills immensely satisfying. I particularly like teaching writing and speaking as you can see the results quickly. I still focus on the necessary grammar and vocabulary, but a major part of my lessons are skills based, and the students appreciate it, well, the adults more than the teens.

Wider opportunities

The Cambridge Delta course opens doors for many more valuable opportunities
Opening doors

Thanks to my Delta, I became Assistant Director of Studies for a summer school back in England. I was also offered the job of Director of Studies two years after, however my son was about to be born and I stayed in Seville for that summer. Now I prefer to spend the summer with my children, but the offer of Director is always on the table.

I’ve also been able to get trained up as a Cambridge speaking examiner at A2, B1, and B2 level. Having a Delta is not an actual prerequisite, but it definitely helped in the interview.

My writing career has also improved. I’m able to write about many more topics now on my blog and have also written for other publications. I’m also about to publish the first in the series of three books about becoming an ESL teacher.

To be honest I’m quite happy as a teacher at the moment. With two little kids aged 3 and 1, I have my hands full, so I’m focussed on improving myself as a teacher and working on my writing career. But colleagues who did the Delta have gone off to become Director of Studies, teacher trainers, and have even opened up their own language school. You can also read some inspiring Delta stories on the Teaching House website.

So, if you want to progress as an ESL teacher and put yourself through a demanding challenge with personal growth benefits and develop your career, then I’d definitely recommend doing a Delta. Why not try one of the Blended learning courses with Teaching House? If you have any questions then I’d be happy to answer them.

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