Actually, I feel pretty relaxed. The light at the end of the
dark and dreary DELTA tunnel is getting brighter and it won’t be long until
normality prevails. Having passed the first 3 LSA’s, one with a pass and two
with a merit, and just done my Experimental Practice lesson on CLL (more
below), the work load feels dramatically less and I can breathe again. It’s not
over though, the final LSA carries most weighting and passing module 2 could
still go tits up.
How much work is involved in an LSA?
It was bloody hard work doing the last couple of LSA’s. It took about a
month for each one. First you have to do the background reading. To give you an
example, my second LSA was on Listening and I have about 6 reference books in the
bibliography along with 3 course books. Luckily was able to skim read a
lot of books on the metro and pick out what I needed.
That takes about a week in total. Then you have to plan the lesson. First point
of call is finding problem areas with your students. Once you have decided how
you can help them in some way you can start planning the lesson. To sit down
and really think about the lesson, come up with the materials, do necessary
recordings, run it by the tutors, practice it with another class, make
necessary changes, not to mention the class profile and detailed description of
the lesson, analysis of the language, and commentary, you’re looking between
two and three weeks work. Then it’s all over in 60 minutes. Complete madness
really, but the whole process really gives you a good insight into the way
lessons should be, in an ideal world. So, like I said above, about a month per
What have my students gained since I started the DELTA?
I would say that most of my students have better pronunciation now. At
least they are all aware of the phonemic script and recognize the differences
between spoken English and citation form. A lot of them are now aware of
aspects of connected speech, which has ultimately improved their speaking and
I think my grammar lessons are better too. Before I would teach a
grammar point, get them to write a few examples, do a few sentences completions, and then practice for homework. Now I try to include a lot more concept
checking questions, timelines, specific drilling on pronunciation problems, as well as a
controlled and freer practice. Before I wasn’t doing much freer practice but
now I spend a bit of time thinking up a natural way for them to use the
language. It’s tricky though.
Thanks to the decent input sessions, and the mountains of reading I’ve
done, my FCE students have been getting specific skills lessons to improve (and
not just practice) their reading, listening, and speaking skills. There is
still a load of activities and ideas that I have to try out, but there just
aren’t enough hours in the week. Plenty of materials for lessons and blogs to come.
These are the areas that I’ve improved in since starting the DELTA.
I use my voice
more: clearer instructions, better drilling, I mumble less.
I speak more
with my students: natural authentic listening is important in class.
I monitor a lot
more: before I assumed who was getting it right, now I know.
I have more
confidence when explaining grammar and vocabulary.
I can concept
check a lot better.
I use my own
materials more and only use the course books as a base.
If you’re thinking of doing the DELTA then, like me, you’re probably not
aware where you need to improve, but that’s the joy of doing the course. If you’ve
been teaching for a while and need an extra goal in life, then I’d definitely
recommend doing it.
As part of the DELTA you have to try out a methodology that you’ve never
done before. I chose Community Language Learning (CLL). When I first read about
CLL I thought it was madness. Why would you put your students in a circle, give
them so much control, and spend half the lesson recording one conversation?
Here are the basic stages:
1- Students come in the room and sit in a circle.
2- You explain they are going to have a conversation about what they
like and you are going to help them translate and make a recording.
3- They decide on a topic.
4- One student gets the ball rolling. They tell you what they want to
say, in their L1, you translate it into English, practise pronunciation, and
then record it.
5- Someone responds. They tell you what they want to say, you translate
6- When you have about 10 lines of conversation you ask if they can
remember all of it before you play it back.
7- Then you type / write it up on the board, with the L1 underneath.
8- Students ask any questions about vocabulary, grammar, and spelling.
9- You act as a human computer as students ask you to repeat any words
10- They practise the conversation and use the language to make new
sentences or a dialogue.
I did my lesson last week with my FCE class and we had a ball. Here’s a
quick list of pros and cons:
The students control
what they speak about.
You don’t have
to prepare much.
· Some interesting
vocabulary came out of the lesson, mainly new phrasal verbs that they didn’t
They enjoyed the
some really clear and natural English.
It was hard work
At times there
were awkward silences.
speak as much as in a normal lesson.
It took ages to
write up the Spanish.
Only a few new
words came out of the session.
I think I’ll try it again, maybe with a lower level class, but it’s not
something I would do every week.
Well, in 3 weeks it’s time for the biggy: LSA4; observed and marked
externally. I’m not sure if I’m going to be more or less sweaty because I don’t
know the person, or just be shitting my pants more because how important it is. Basically if
you fail the LSA4 then you can kiss the whole course goodbye. A bit harsh I think, but
I’m trying to not think about failing.
After that I think I’m going to try to do module 3 as soon as possible.
Not only because all the terminology will be fresh, but because I want to get
on with my normal life again and spend some time trying out all the new ideas.
Plus I’m going to be a Daddy next term and I guess I won’t have that much
time left for a DELTA.
Are you thinking of doing a DELTA? Have you got an LSA4 coming up? Leave
a comment and let me know.
Labels: benefits of delta, CLL, Community Language Learning, DELTA, delta diary, lsa's teaching skills, lsa4