A few days have passed since I’ve done my DELTA M1 – and unlike my fellow distinction achiever Filip whose article on his DELTA tips has been well-received by everyone who reads us – my goal is and has been to just pass the exam and I think I have a good reason for saying this.
I AM A BAD EXAM TAKER. Here’s why…
- I find it hard to memorise
- I am slow.
- I like to think things through.
- I don’t enjoy studying in order to memorise
If you are like me, I’m sorry but I don’t have a tip for the lot of us…but I can tell you the two things that might actually have helped me pass this exam.
Probably what you expect me to say here is that you should start reading the books on the reading lists as early as possible.
‘But this is not my tip…When I say start as early as possible, I mean, start the moment you feel you’ve recovered from the CELTA/CertTESOL burnout.’
Well yes, that’s helpful and you should definitely do this. I actually started back in November when Macmillan was kind enough to send me a copy of ‘Beyond the Sentence’ and ‘Sound Foundations’ for free. And if I hadn’t started studying seriously so early, I wouldn’t be as positive as I am now about my results.
But this is not my tip…When I say start as early as possible, I mean, start the moment you feel you’ve recovered from the CELTA/CertTESOL burnout.
I remember studying Jeremy Harmer’s ‘The practice of English language teacher’ the summer after finishing my first ever teaching job. That was my starting point but every summer there would be a different one (just to be honest, I never read the whole books, only the parts I find intrinsically interesting) Then, it would be a course, like the IH COLT which I did a few years ago. Then it was teacher training. I’m by no means a teacher trainer but I’m always after opportunities for sharing my favourite tools, my love for technology etc. Now I forgot to mention that I started teaching in 2015 and now it’s 2021, so as you can imagine there’s been quite a few of this ‘summer’ books, development courses, and teacher training sessions. What I’m trying to say here is that…
…Don’t rush into doing the DELTA
I don’t want to discourage anyone who’s eager to do it after two years of teaching. But you need to understand why you are choosing to do it! Career prospects? Become more knowledgeable? (add you reason) Whatever your reason, I think the sooner you do it the less impactful it is.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve actually improved as a teacher while I was studying but that’s because a lot of those things were NOT new to me or because they were in my Zone of Proximal Development. I was ready to take in the new information. I can’t imagine how DELTA could have the same impact on me if I had done it two years after I started teaching.
You could also argue that you learn different things depending on when you do it. But is this really true in this case? And on top of that, how much information are you ready to take in as a relatively new teacher?
I’m sure people will have different views and that’s okay but I’m happy that I took my time. I now feel confident in my teaching ability, and I’m confident that whatever knowledge I have, is supported by quite a lot of experience and not just theoretical knowledge. I did my Master’s in ELT at the University of Warwick right after I finished my BA in English and TEFL. You know what, I couldn’t cope. I mean I’ve passed it of course and I got good grades but when I entered a classroom for the first time I felt like I had to go back to the basic teaching knowledge and practices.
Of course, this is not exactly the same with doing the DELTA two years after you start teaching, but it is an extreme example that I hope proves my point.
‘Always remember that intrinsic motivation to improve as a teacher will almost always be more meaningful and impactful than extrinsic.’
I started saying that I’m a bad exam taker. If you are like me and you’re considering taking your time before you do your DELTA, here’s a short list of good practices that you can start doing long before the exam, which will certainly help you when the time comes to do it!
start a blog!
We all make lesson plans, or create activities either at home, before the lesson, or on the spot. You can’t imagine how helpful it will be for you to write them and publish them. By putting on paper they will reveal things you might have not noticed. Also, you can revisit/reuse them later on when you’re more experienced. You can see your progress through them and of course improve them etc. Also, others will be able to comment on them, or even use them! Your content might actually be better than you think! A new teacher’s creativity rarely matches that of a seasoned.
Be proud of your work!
Talk to/share your work with your colleagues/DoS
When I started working for ih Lacunza, I created a shared folder to put our activities that we thought would be useful for each other. Long story short, I was the only one using it.
Some people are afraid that others will steal their activities or that they will not find them useful as I said before. But probably none of the two are true. We don’t lurk in the shadows waiting to steal someone’s activity, publish it, and go to the Bahamas with the millions of euros we made from one activity…
Ask your DoS about activities, lesson flows, tips, ideas etc. I learnt about Dictoglosses and running dictations through my DoS in Lacunza. When the time came to study reconstruction activities for DELTA, I had done quite a few dictoglosses, faced several problems when doing, and solved quite a few of them!
Just before I finish this, I just wanted to say that this is not a race. Some will do things earlier some others later. If you decide to take your time don’t feel like you are losing something out. You’re just taking a different route. Always remember that intrinsic motivation to improve as a teacher will almost always be more meaningful than extrinsic.
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