The DELTA (Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is one of the most advanced qualifications in the TEFL world. We sat down for a chat with Joanna, our head tutor, to find out about her experience of doing the DELTA, how it affects your teaching practice, and whether she’d recommend it to other TEFL teachers.
What were you doing before you decided to do the DELTA?
I’d been teaching for a year and then I started working for the Embassy group, which runs language schools in England. I was working in Brighton at the time.
And what prompted you to do the course?
Well, it just kind of happened – one of the DELTA tutors came and observed my class and said, Oh you seem to be quite good, you should think about doing the DELTA – so I just kind of went with it. Looking back, I think it would have been wiser to wait a little bit longer – I think it’s good to have more practical experience before you do the course. I’d only been teaching for a year – I would probably recommend that people teach ESL for at least two years so you’re more aware of your strengths and weaknesses as a teacher.
Tell us a little about your academic background.
I did an MA in Applied Linguistics at university – I’ve always been really fascinated by linguistic theory and how we learn languages. When I started teaching I thought, Well, I don’t want to treat this as a summer thing – I want to take it seriously, make a career out of it. So doing the DELTA was a natural next step really.
So how does the DELTA work?
Well there’s two ways that you can take your DELTA. It’s comprised of three modules and you can do the intensive course in a month but that’s incredibly intense and you can’t really work while you’re doing that. The other way is part time, the way I did it. I was still working at the time and it took me four months to complete the first two modules. Module 1 is exam based and Module 2 is teaching observation with accompanying essays.
What did you enjoy about doing the DELTA?
My favourite part was Module 2 – the module where you have four teaching observations and essays. So you have to teach a lesson but write a really quite extensive background essay. It’s quite intense but I really liked researching and writing the essays – it was great being able to take my Linguistics studies and apply the theory in a classroom setting. It was an experimental module and it was nice to be able to use different theories. There was a group of us doing the DELTA together and we’d get together every Friday to talk about how we were finding the course – that support network was nice too.
And what didn’t you like about the DELTA?
The thing I really didn’t enjoy was having to conform and ticking all of Cambridge’s boxes. They have the DELTA handbook and the list of criteria which you have to tick off is very restrictive. For example, their maximum word count for the essays is very low, yet you’re given a list of things you have to include, which can be frustrating – you feel like you can’t express all your ideas and that’s a bit stressful, especially coming from an MA where I had more space to explore ideas and theories. It felt a little bit limited in that sense – I had to narrow everything down into the format in which Cambridge wanted me to present it.
How has it changed your teaching practice?
Well, it’s allowed me to experiment more – given me the confidence I lacked before. For example, I now know why I do the things I do – it gives you the confidence, insight and flexibility to play around, try new ideas. You feel like your students are getting what they deserve – a high quality learning experience.
And what would you say to someone who was thinking about doing the course?
I think if you’re treating teaching English as a career move – if it’s something you see yourself doing long term – then doing the DELTA is a good move. I don’t know if it necessarily makes you a better teacher, but it definitely makes you more confident and aware of what you’re doing. I think it also gives you more opportunities in terms of jobs, course development – having the DELTA on my CV has definitely helped in that sense.
If you have any other questions for Joanna just let us know in the comments!