DELTA Diary: Exam Module 1 – Done and dusted

After about six months studying and preparing for the DELTA module one exam, it’s finally over. I can breathe again, until module 2 starts in January anyway. In this DELTA diary I’m going to talk about the exam, the preparation that definitely helped, and whether it was worth the pain.

It's all about Time Management. Photo by Alan Cleaver
How was the DELTA module 1 exam?
Not too bad considering some of the past papers I’ve seen. In Paper 1 there were no real surprises to Tasks 1, 2, and 3 and the preparation we were suggested to do (see below) definitely helped. Task 5 was okay, although it was tricky to analyse and find 3 strengths and weaknesses from the written piece.

Task 4, the nightmare part, was reasonably generous. It was a human interest story (which wasn’t interesting to normal humans) and we had to cover form, use, and pronunciation of used to/would, form, use and problems with connected speech features of a mixed conditional sentence, and finally form and use of some random prepositions and adverbs. As expected, timing was a sore point. I took between 40-45 minutes. Others took up to 50. A colleague of mine made a good point that there were over 30 individual tasks to do, which gave us about a minute a task if we stuck to the allocated time; freaking harsh if you think about it.

Paper 2 was decent too. Tasks 2 and 3 were the same as most past papers. We had to give purposes and assumptions for uses of both, neither, and either, pretty DELTA standard. Task 1 was a pain because instead of an individual leaner we had to analyse the test for a group of mixed level international students. I managed to write down six points, but whether they were all relevant I don’t know (or care any more, it’s over!)

The topic for Task 4 was probably the only one on our course’s suggested topic list that I hadn’t prepared for; the pros and cons of Teacher Talk Time in the class. Luckily I managed to get down a range of answers though and made about 30 points. Again, whether they are all on the DELTA markers ‘subjective’ marking list, I’ll have to wait and see...results not out until mid February.

My terminology cards -
150 of the buggers, front and back
What preparation helped?
The course was great. Our tutors provided us with an extensive range of tasks to get us familiar with the test papers and boost our confidence. The mix of group and individual tasks were useful and the feedback was constructive, cheers Claire and Mike at IH Seville.

I think the best advice was to do terminology cards. Not only is this great for tasks 1 and 2 in paper 1 (which I did in about 10 minutes instead of the suggested 20; it’s all about time management), but it’s also an amazing way to develop a strong base of terminology for the whole exam.

I had about 300 different definitions in the end for the following categories: grammar, phonology, connected speech, methodology, learner styles and motivations, lexis, discourse, and testing. I wrote out my own cards with a definition, example, and further point, and each day, while on the metro to work, I memorised them. I did this for about three months. The looks I got from the local Sevillanos suggested they thought I was some sort of nutter, but they think it’s weird to ‘read a book’ on the metro.

For Task 4 on Paper 2 I had a list of between 10 and 20 points on the pros and cons of various topics and methodologies. For example, PPP, Task-Based approach, Communicative approach, Deductive or Inductive approach, Content-Based (CLIL), and topics such as using L1 or phonetics in class (there were more but I won’t bore you). I guess this preparation wasn’t as useful because I hadn’t prepared for the topic that came up, Teacher Talk Time. I was pretty gutted when I saw the question, but with all the reading I'd done, and just common knowledge from the classroom, I was able to apply theories from a range of methodologies for the answer.   

The most useful preparation was the mock exams and doing past papers. In the last two weeks I tried to do a paper a day. Then I read the DELTA examiners' report and tried to work out exactly what they wanted from the key and best and worst answers to get a rough idea of what they expected. This was the perfect way to consolidate everything we’d done and get ready for the main event.  

Was it worth the pain?
I guess I’ll know when I get my result in February. My classes are definitely better, especially with regards to teaching writing, speaking and pronunciation. If you read my last DELTA Diary, then you’ll know that I read way over the suggested list. I read about 14 EFL books in total. Thinking about it now, I probably could have read less, but it wasn’t until the last couple that I started questioning how much I was reading.

From what I’ve heard, it’s in Module 2 where everything starts to come together. My course starts on the 10th of January 2013. I’m looking forward to working with the other teachers, hopefully it will be more interactive and fun. 

If you’re thinking of doing the DELTA, have just done the exam, or would like to share any advice, then just drop a comment below. Later in the week I'll be publishing a blog titled: Top Tips for doing the DELTA module 1.

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