Looking back on Delta: Pros and Cons for CELTA graduates

 | Teaching House Nomads Blog

Are you a Celta graduate looking for that next challenge? Is your boss going on about doing a Delta to turn you into a hot shot ESL star? Do you have a fetish for putting yourself through vigorous challenges?

If so, don’t get all excited just yet because doing a Delta could destroy you, it nearly did to me. For about a year I lost my social life (not that I really had one in the first place), my free mornings and weekends, and quite a few centimos.

Looking back, I wonder if that manic year was really necessary. Did it really improve my job prospects, and make me a more confident teacher? Were all those hours reading about ESL theories, memorizing terminology, and perfecting lessons worth it for the benefit of having a Delta? Yes and no.


Confidence remains high

Confidence and positive thinking is key when you just start teaching
Is that a light I see?

One of my weaknesses before I did a Delta was my confidence. I’m quite a shy person deep down, so being in front of students can be nerve-wracking at times, especially with older teens and adult students in Spain.

In my first few years in Seville, I’d often come unstuck with awkward questions about grammar. I’d break down and cry in front of students – not really, but I did have a few embarrassing moments. I knew the rules, but was just incapable of explaining them without turning the class into a grammar definition war. I improved by studying and teaching more, however, it wasn’t until after putting myself through the Delta that my confidence really showed.

By studying for the exam in Module one and researching and planning classes in Module 2 my knowledge grew, which in turn made me a more confident person. I still get questions that I can’t answer, but they are mainly about vocabulary, so I just use Wordreference on my whiteboard. Now I can batter away those awkward questions with my magic brain and amaze students with my complete understanding of the English language (might be exaggerating slightly, but you get the picture).

All rounded teacher

DELTA graduates get to learn what it takes to be a well-rounded teacher
Well-rounded door.

I don’t mean I put on weight during that year, although I probably did as I had less time for the gym, but the Delta taught me how to be a more complete teacher.

One great aspect of the Delta is that you begin to realise teaching skills such as reading, writing, listening and speaking are all just as important, if not more, than grammar. I never knew it was possible to improve students listening skills. I always used to say, “Just listen to a few more Justin Bieber songs”, but now I actually improve their reciprocal and productive skills.

By spending time reading about skills work and preparing detailed lessons plans on the different ways to improve students’ abilities, you start to analyse your classes more and begin to make your students all rounded learners as well.

Knowing I could be somebody, someday

I’m quite happy teaching at the moment. I’m not all that up for being a director, a teacher trainer, or getting into publishing, mainly because I still have fun in the class, and I worry that as soon as I come out I’ll turn into a boring fart. But knowing that thanks to having a Delta I could progress is a satisfying feeling.

When you go from a Celta to a Delta graduate, it’s like you’ve just been bought by a lower level Premier League team, and you know one of the top four could snap you up if you keep going the way you are.


There were a few reasons that I wouldn’t recommend doing a Delta though, it’s not all shits and giggles.

Is it guaranteed that you’ll move up the ESL ladder?

The Delta course builds the foundation for future career developments
Ladders take you places.

This links in closely to my last point. Like I said, I’m happy as a teacher, and I haven’t decided to try for promotion yet. I have some more responsibility at work and can help new teachers more, but my position is effectively the same.

The Delta doesn’t really prepare you for being a director or setting up your own language academy. It does show you how course books are organized and gives you an insight into becoming an ESL writer, but there is still a long way to go. At the end of the day, you’ll have to make your own future. A Delta is like a lightsabre, a tidy little weapon to store on your belt, but you’ll have to use some extra force to push for your ambitions.

Can you always teach to the Delta standard?

When I finished the Delta, I told myself that all my lessons would be up to the Delta standard. I’m not sure what I was thinking. Did I really expect to spend hours reading up on the theory, plan all my lessons to absolute perfection, make my own materials, and test the lessons on my wife and kids? Even though I’d love to, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to be able to teach Delta standard lessons for every class.

A huge factor for me was that a lot of what I learnt on the Delta is only really appropriate for older teens and adult students. Teaching skills to younger learners is tricky. I try to give my students as much practise as they can on everything, and implement strategies all the time, but if a Delta examiner randomly popped into my class, I’m sure they wouldn’t give me a distinction for my classes.

Will you become better off financially?

The Delta course is a career investment that can open up so much more opportunities
It'll take a bit to recoup your investment.

It’s expensive to do the Delta. Luckily my employers helped out with the costs and now also pay me a supplement for being Delta qualified. It’s not a massive pay increase, and if you compare my wages to one of a newly qualified Celta graduate, there’s not a huge difference. But I didn’t really do it for the money.

It’s not like I’ve suddenly got a huge wage rise and am living the life playing golf and going skydiving in the morning instead of planning my classes. But I have got more opportunities by becoming a Cambridge Examiner, got into ESL writing, and also given online talks.

I know for a fact that employers in countries in the Middle East and Asia will pay you a lot extra for having a Delta, it just depends where you want to work.

So, was doing a Delta worth it?

I’m not a person who likes to regret making decisions. At the time I needed a challenge, I was getting bored in the class and was wondering if there was more to life than ESL. By doing a Delta, I have definitely opened my eyes and realized that every day is an opportunity. Every class can be different, every student needs different attention, and no day is the same as an ESL teacher.

If you want a personal challenge and feel the need to boost your confidence, gain and enormous amount of knowledge, and want to make a career as an ESL teacher, then yes, doing a Delta could be for you, but give it a long hard think, because it will certainly be one of the most challenging and exhausting courses you’ll ever take. Best of luck.

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