Reasons to do a DELTA: Part 1

The DELTA was an amazing experience and I feel like a better teacher, but it was hard, harder than anything I’ve ever done before. After finishing the DELTA Module 2 in May, almost five months ago, it’s taken me a while to want to write about it again. I guess mainly because I was sick of hearing that word ‘DELTA’. I´d thought about it repeatedly for almost a year, suffered by putting my life on hold, fallen out of contact with mates, family and neglected my own dog.

So when I got my result for Module 2, a pass with Merit, I was darn happy. I hadn’t been that happy since I found out my wife was preggers (although admittedly slightly happier knowing I was going to be a Dad).

Now I’m ready to write about the DELTA again. Now I’m ready to share my experience with you guys and try to convince you to do the DELTA.

Here are my ten reasons why you should take the DELTA challenge.

Life gets better after a DELTA
(not during) Photo by trustocorp
Become a better teacher
I suppose this goes without saying. After a hard year of studying a massive range of books, learning loads during the input sessions, and really thinking more about your classes, then no doubt you’ll become a better teacher.

Admittedly this is the ‘Cambridge’ equivalent of a better teacher, jumping through the hoops and all that malarkey. You can decide what you want to take from the course and put into practise in your own classes.

After the DELTA you will have more knowledge of grammar, understand the importance of teaching skills, and become aware of different ways of correcting your students.

You’ll feel like an expert, at least compare to when you first started teaching. Module 1 is great for a sound knowledge boost and becoming more aware of language. Module 2 will hopefully guide you towards becoming an expert at teaching a particular skill and make you realise which area of English you enjoy teaching more. I am a massive fan of phonetics now, but also I have realised the importance of helping students boost their vocabulary. Module 3 is a bit of a pain in the arse (in my opinion, other teachers love it), but more on that in another blog.

Know how to really teach grammar
I used to be scared of grammar. Honestly, sometimes I went to pieces in front of groups of adults asking me to explain the difference between past simple and past perfect. Doing a DELTA won’t turn you into a walking grammar reference book, but it will give you the confidence to deal with on the spot questions. You should find that you see the importance to teaching students through contexts, providing them with guided discovery tasks so they can really understand the grammar, and then see the value in giving them both controlled and freer practise. This isn’t always possible with time constraints, but at least you’ll have some sort of strategy (in theory).

Realise the importance of skills
Ever feel that your life in the classroom is based mainly around teaching grammar? I used to. Grammar is important, well, in my opinion it is, but it’s not a means to an end. I think I used to spend between 60 and 70% of my time teaching grammar, mainly because I just thought that all the other areas would fall into place.

‘How can you teach students to listen?’

‘Everyone knows how to speak...’

‘You’re either a born writer, or a failure in life.’

I was surprised how much of the DELTA wasn’t focussed on grammar; we hardly spent any time on it at all, but mainly because we all had a fair idea of how to teach it.

The DELTA will show you the light with regards to skills. You not only see the IMPORTANCE of teaching your students to listen, speak, write, and read, but also HOW to teach them those skills.

Learn how to write phonetics fluently
Okay, now this has blown me away. My wife officially thinks I’m a freak now; especially the other day when I tried to teach her a few symbols while we were out food shopping. It wasn’t the sounds, rather the actions I use for each sound. We did get a few funny looks from old Spanish ladies in the fruit and veg stand.

Using phonetics in class is not only vital for improving students’ pronunciation and listening skills, but it’s great fun, and you’re actually giving the students something that can help them through their whole English learning lives.

If you chose the right DELTA course, and get decent tutors, then you should get practical ideas on how to teach phonetics to your students, and also see the importance of aspects of connected speech.

After a lot of practise I reckon I can now write most words in phonetics, sometimes needing a quick glance at the chart on my wall. It’s a great tool to have to iron out all those pronunciation issues. I used the phonetic chart properly last year and my students loved it. Check out my Phonetics Project.

For more reasons to do a DELTA come back next week.

Labels: , , , , , ,