Friday, June 27, 2014

DELTA Diaries Week 0 - Overview and Anticipation

As is mentioned in my first introductory post "Cutting The Ribbon", I have been working as an English teacher since 2008 and initially trained for my CELTA (Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) in 2010 at Teaching House New York. This is when I first learned about International House World Organization and the amount of teacher training that goes on at these schools around the world.

After a few years of working in France, I came to Prague to work for AKCENT International House Prague largely because of these opportunities for teacher training and continuing development. My goal was to gain experience working within the IH network while also taking training courses to develop in other aspects of ELT (I have completed the IH Certificate in Teaching Young Learners and Teenagers, as well as the IH Language Awareness Course).

In one week I will be starting my Delta Modules 1 & 2 (formerly the Cambridge Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults) at IH Prague. For those who don't know this is an advanced certification in English Language Teaching generally required for ELT management positions as well as teacher trainer roles at most language schools. The full Delta consists of three modules:

Module One
This is a written exam which falls under Cambridge English Language Assessments (along with Cambridge First (FCE), Cambridge Advanced (CAE), etc....) and tests a teacher's knowledge of:

  • Second Language Acquisition Theories
  • Language Teaching Methodologies
  • Language Systems (Grammar, Vocabulary)
  • Language Skills (Reading, Listening)
  • Potential Learner Difficulties
  • Language Resources and Materials
  • Assessment Methodologies

Because I have already completed half the coursework for an MA in Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language, many of these are concepts which I have already studied and written papers about. However, the focus of the Delta Modules is more practical than my MA, and so there will still be quite a bit of work to do to prepare for the Module One exam.

Module Two
This module will be the main challenge to overcome this summer, and as such the main focus of these blog posts. Module two is the practical teaching-focused portion of the Delta Modules which includes the following tasks:

Four Language Systems/Skills Assignments (LSAs)
Throughout the summer I will be team teaching two groups of students at different levels. I will regularly teach them in part to get to know them better because they will also be the students who I teach for my four official observed lessons, which are part of each LSA.

LSAs are divided into Systems (grammar points, lexical sets, and other language-structure focused lessons) and Skills (speaking, reading, listening and writing). During Module Two, I will need to teach two systems lessons and two skills lessons of 45-60 minutes which will be officially observed and marked for every minute detail of the lesson from lesson aims, lesson cohesion, techniques used, etc...

Additionally, I will need to write a research paper for each lesson focusing on the details of the system or skill I will be teaching (think: 2,500 words on phrasal verbs, on listening, on perfect aspects, on affixes, etc). The purpose of these papers is to learn the language point I will be teaching inside and out, backwards and forwards and to apply this knowledge to the anticipated needs and problems of the learners I am teaching. This research should all build towards the observed lesson and factors into the overall mark for these LSAs.

Additionally, the final LSA will be observed and marked by an external assessor - someone not teaching my course who I will have never met, and this final LSA is a requirement of passing the whole Delta Module 2. 

Professional Development Assignment (PDA) Part A - Reflection and Action
This assignment begins with a diagnostic observation at the beginning of the course (prior to the LSAs) performed by an official Delta course tutor. This observation is unassessed, but feedback is given on a 45-60 minute lesson. After the observation the candidate must write an assignment of 1,000 words maximum detailing teaching beliefs and practices, strengths and weaknesses, as well as an action plan including approaches, methods and resources to work on.

Later, after the first two Language Systems/Skills Assignments (LSAs) have been completed, another paper is written of 750 words maximum detailing the progress made since the initial assignment, and further plans of action.

Another 750 word paper is submitted at the end of all four LSAs at the end of the course detailing the progress made in teaching beliefs and practices, and listing plans for continuing development beyond the course.

Professional Development Assignment (PDA) Part B - Experimental Practice
The second part of the PDA is one I am looking forward to, and actually one I have presented on before for TESOL Greece - Experimental Practice. For this assignment the candidate needs to select a methodology or technique that is commonly known and used (currently or historically) in ELT and use it to plan and teach a lesson. The catch is that this technique must be one they have never used before. Some commonly used ones are Dogme, The Lexical Approach, and Task-Based Learning; but any technique could potentially be used.

The experimental lesson is analyzed and evaluated by the candidate for effectiveness and for benefits brought on by the central aspects of the technique. This results in a 2,000-2,500 page paper not including the lesson plans.

This portion of the PDA appeals to me, but because I have played around with aspects of so many different techniques, I will need to either do something archaic (Audio-Lingual? Silent Way?) or a bit off the wall (suggestopedia?) to meet the "have never used it before" criterion.

Module Three
The final module of the DELTA is an extended research assignment which I will not be completing right away due to work commitments. I will write more on that when it comes around.


So there it is. I expect this summer will be a ton of work, but I am also really looking forward to having nothing to do for 8 weeks but work on my own development as a teacher and learn the observation/evaluation skills that I will need in my new position with IH Beirut. I will do my best to post weekly updates and summaries of my thoughts and reflections on the course. I hope these will serve as a way for me to organize my thoughts and synthesize a ton of info down to the most important take-home messages. If so, then hopefully it can serve as a sort of guide to future DELTA trainees who stumble across my blog. Wish me luck!

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