I did an intensive course for module two at CELT Athens in Autumn 2016.
I chose this course for a number of reasons. Most of the intensive courses run in the summer, when I would rather be either earning money or relaxing in the shade. I don’t like hot weather and the thought of coping with heat and Delta stress was most unappealing.
Another reason I chose this course was the attraction of teaching general English to motivated adult learners. For the previous five years I had been working at universities, dealing with large classes of often unmotivated teenagers. I didn’t want to teach academic English nor have to deal with classroom management and possible attitude issues during the Delta, so the intensive course was a good choice for me. I knew it would be stressful but I would rather be stressed for two months rather than stretch it out for six (the part-time option).
You could possibly choose the areas for your LSAs, but don’t do too much because it really depends on the learners you’re going to teach, which you won’t know until you start the course. I’d definitely recommend reading up on the specifics of module two so you don’t annoy your tutors asking for things you should already know. Here are some websites I referred to.
The First Week
1) Don’t get too stressed about the diagnostic lesson. There’s no pass or fail – don’t try to do your best lesson ever. In fact it may be better to choose something that’s new to you or challenging so you can be given some specific points to work on.
I did a focus on pronunciation (past simple -ed endings) which is something I don’t have a lot of experience in teaching so it was useful to get detailed feedback. I’ve never felt very comfortable drilling but I do more of now since completing module two and seeing how useful it was for learners.
2) Make sure you get detailed information from your learners in the way of surveys. You’ll need this information for every lesson plan, so find out their personal details as well as their reasons for learning, past experience of language learning and any other relevant information.
3) I strongly recommend observing the class (or classes) you’re going to teach as much as possible – not only do they count towards your observation record, but you can pick up teaching tips (or things best avoided). It’s also extremely useful to be able to note down strengths, weaknesses and preferences of individual students, as you will use this information to help you decide what to teach and in your lesson plans.
4) If you do the intensive course, you’ll have an assignment and lesson plan to do almost every weekend. Try not to put it off as otherwise the work really builds up. It takes a while to get the hang of what Cambridge are after regarding writing style. You don’t have to read entire books but just find specific chapters or even pages that are of use to you. Hopefully your tutor will suggest specific key titles to you and your centre has a well stocked library.
You only need to pass the essays so unless you’re very weak at academic writing, I would suggest getting each one out of the way within a few days and then promptly moving on to the lesson plan. Your tutor should give you feedback about your essays to nudge you towards a passing grade if you’re not already there.
My Delta Module Two
Here’s an overview of the topics I covered, in case it’s useful or interesting to anyone. You have to teach at least six lessons during the Delta, one of which is the diagnostic, four LSAs (the final of which is externally assessed) and an experimental lesson.
Past simple -ed endings
Grammar and Pronunciation
Based on Shirley Valentine
LSA1: Skills: Reading
Improving the ability of pre-intermediate learners to comprehend infographics by focussing on subskills.
On module two of the Delta you have to teach a receptive skill (listening or reading). I chose reading, and considering that I was teaching an elementary class, didn’t feel too confident about this lesson. Reading is probably my least favourite thing to teach but there’s no escaping on the Delta, which is probably a good thing or else everyone would just teach the things they are best at.
I chose to use infographics to practice reading subskills. I had great difficulty in choosing a text (I wanted to use an authentic text) and in printing it out. To avoid unnecessary extra stress, do make sure you have everything printed the day before your assessed lessons.
Lesson: Pass with Merit
LSA2: Systems: Lexis: Phrases with Get
Teaching collocation with delexicalised verbs to pre-intermediate learners
I used the Shirley Valentine story again to present the target language in context. I also used mini whiteboards in this lesson, and large print outs of the phrases with get. I wish there had been more time for production. It’s hard to get through everything in 40-60 minutes (and the tutor stops assessing after an hour).
Lesson: Pass with Merit
LSA3: Skills: Speaking
Raising Learners Awareness of Communication Strategies at Higher Levels
I decided to experiment a little bit with LSA3 (I suppose I felt more confident after the results of the first two). I wanted to challenge myself a bit, so firstly I switched groups and taught the upper intermediate group, and secondly, I used the Test-Teach-Test approach. The speaking strategy I was concerned with is that of circumlocution (or in simpler terms, talking around something when you don’t know the specific word or name).
As someone living and operating in a second language, I use this strategy in real life on nearly a daily basis. I remembered teaching a lesson from a coursebook on it years ago and wanted to do something along similar lines.
For this lesson, I created my own listenings. This isn’t hard to do using your phone and when you’re creating your own lessons from scratch, this will work better than trying to find a listening that matches what you’re doing. In the end, there was a problem with technology (typical!) so I had to just hand out the scripts. It’s worth pointing out that last minute mishaps don’t mean the lesson will be a fail. It really depends on how you react to them and deal with them. They can even go in your favour if you stay calm and think on your feet.
In the end, the Test-Teach-Test model worked well for this specific lesson, and it was a refreshing change to teach the higher level group. I did end up using about 50 slips of paper with pictures on though, which were tiresome to prepare, but invaluable.
Lesson: Pass with Merit
LSA4: Systems: Grammar
Helping lower level learners understand and express past habits.
I like teaching grammar so that’s why I left it for my last assessed lesson. It took quite a while to choose a topic that I wanted to teach and that would be useful and appropriate for the lower level class I was to teach. I have always liked teaching “used to” – it’s relatively simple for students to grasp, and lends itself to all sorts of reminiscing about the good old days (or not).
Of course, once I started reading for the background essay, I realised that it was far more complicated than I had envisioned. I worked really hard on this essay – as I’m aware that my practical skills are stronger than my theory. By this stage, it finally felt like it was all slotting together: researching and writing the essay actually helped me understand and clarify what I would teach.
In this lesson I used a lot of images, a listening that I made myself (a course mate and her mother) and a guided discovery worksheet.
I don’t know the results for LSA4 but I got a pass with merit overall.
It’s a very good idea to try to keep up with any deadlines for the various parts of the PDA (professional development assignment) throughout the course. It’s actually more difficult to try and write this retrospectively than while you’re going along. Follow the guidelines – Elt Concourse was invaluable for this: and it’s nothing to get stressed about. The PDA is pass or fail only.
At my centre, we did our experimental lessons in the last week, after all the LSAs had been completed. Mine was based on Demand High
Only your peers will observe this and your self-assessment and reflection on how it went is more important than it being an amazing lesson. However, for some reason, I felt extremely stressed before this lesson. The mind works in strange ways.
Doing the Delta is very stressful. Of course, this depends on the type of person you are, but in my case, I had given up quite a lot to come to another country and get module two out of the way, and I was determined to do well. Even if you’ve been teaching for years, being observed and assessed is nerve wracking. I actually felt sick with nerves in the mornings before assessed lessons. The only things that seemed to help me were the following:
- Forcing myself to go out for a walk and some fresh air every day. It helped that my apartment was within walking distance of the Acropolis, so a walk around ancient buildings was often just the thing to put my worries into perspective.
- Using some guided relaxation meditations from YouTube. I have never been into things like this before, but I worked myself up into such a state that I was desperate to find something to calm me down, especially before going to sleep. Guided Meditation
- Being systematic and working through each essay and lesson plan one by one.
I still suffer from anxiety and think I always will, so am not sure what I can say to help others. It occasionally helps to tell myself that anxiety can actually be a driving force that enables people to do well when necessary. After all, despite feeling panicky and anxious, in the end, I was able to teach all the lessons effectively and the anxiety wasn’t disabling. If anyone else has any advice about dealing with performance related anxiety, please leave a comment!
Waiting for results
It’s a very long two month wait for the results to come out, and you don’t get any feedback for LSA4. It feels very good to be finished, and although I still have to finish module three, module two really is the big one. Good luck to anyone taking module two at the moment. I hope this post has been useful in some way.