At the start of 2014 I was at a bit of a crossroads in ELT. I was cross, and I was thinking about hitting the road. I had a chat with my DOS at the time and he told me I should be all in or all out. I went away and thought about it for a while and I came to the conclusion that if ELT was going to be my ‘real job’ I should really make sure I’ve got the right qualifications. I already had a CELTA, as you need one of those to work in (most) schools in Dublin and I wasn’t quite ready for a full-time M.A. in TESOL, so I went for DELTA.
The good news here is that DELTA counts for about half of an M.A. in TESOL in some universities so it’s a good first step. The better news is that you can do it by distance learning, so you don’t need to give up your job to do it. I went with Distance DELTA, but there are other online providers as far as I know. So far I’ve done Module 1 and I’m in the middle of Module 3. For the uninitiated, we’ll have a quick rundown of the modules and what they’re like.
This is a test. There are 2 papers. You need to define some ELT terminology, evaluate some student work, explain lots of tricky language, evaluate a test, identify the purposes and theories behind some coursebook material and then give a range of opinions on some topical part of ELT. It takes a lot of reading to get up to speed with it, but as exams go it’s not the worst I’ve done. (Take a bow Driving Test, 4 times and my licence is still green.) Distance DELTA give you lots of practice papers and train you in exam technique. They also have helpful notes on the main topic areas. If you’ve read more before you start, you’ll have a serious advantage.
I haven’t done this part yet, but it seems to be like a SUPER-CELTA, it’s a 6-week course when done full-time or 9 months part-time/distance. You have to plan lessons and then be evaluated on them. Each one has to address a specific language point. I’m leaning towards going away to do it. I’d prefer to hammer it out in 6 weeks than have it hanging over me for 9 months. Also, Jim Scrivener teaches some of the one with Bell in the U.K. It would be nice to learn from one of the giants of the industry.
I’m currently doing this one through Distance DELTA. It’s like a thesis. You pick a specialist topic and then design a course for a learner/learners within that specialism. You need to do needs analysis, diagnostic testing, set objectives, find materials and design an evaluation. You also need to do a tonne of reading about those areas and about your specialism. I chose one-to-one as my specialism as I teach a fair amount of one-to-one classes at the moment, and I’d like to do more. Also, it’s an area that’s relatively light on reading and resources which means you can explore your own ideas a bit more without going against the common grain and also means that you might be able to become a leading expert in that field. I’m about halfway through at present, I’ll post a bit more about it at a later date.
So there you have it, that’s what a DELTA looks like. I’ve heard of people who have done the whole thing in like a 3-month full-time whirlwind, but that wasn’t for me. I enjoyed Module 1 more than I’m enjoying Module 3 at the moment, but I think when I was in the middle of Module 1 I wasn’t too happy either. It’s hard to work and study at the same time and a lot of things get sacrificed along the way. You’ll need an understanding boss and a support network of some kind (friends, family, colleagues, Twitter) and you’ll need to want to learn.
It’s been good for me as a teacher who likes to set a high standard in work, as now when I complain I have some theory to throw weight behind my arguments and it helps you see that even with a CELTA and 6 years experience, there’s still a whole world of information out there to be learned about. I’m hopeful that in the end I’ll be a better teacher, and also, and perhaps more significantly, more secure and valuable in my day job.