The Cambridge Delta and Why I Chose the Intensive Course Option


Since the time I completed my Delta course and overall assessment, I have received several messages from prospective candidates who want to or have to follow an intensive course because no other viable option is open to them.


But often, colleagues have read this or that comment, especially in various forums, and have been intimidated or even downright  put off!

The purpose of this post is not to convince people that the intensive Delta course option is easy – why would it be, anyway?

It is a level 7 qualification that allows its holders to be awarded exemptions and credtis from a great number of related M.A programmes in the UK.

And it does give people access to some of the best jobs around! So I didn’t live under the misapprehension that I was going to have a summer holiday in Greece!

The purpose of this post is to clarify some things relevant to the intensive Delta course which I followed (and completed successfully, I will also add!) and hope that those thinking about it will not be frightened away.

My intensive Delta Experience at CELT Athens

The intensive Delta course at CELT Athens lasts for 8 weeks during which candidates attend all Module 1 and Module 2 input sessions  as well as introductory sessions on most specialisms available for Module 3, observe colleagues teaching (these could be tutors, experienced teachers on other courses, or other Delta candidates), write 5 background essays for their assignments, design 5 lesson plans and teach assessed  and  unassessed lessons and complete a Professional Development Assignment which has them taking stock of their progress after 4 points during their course as well as at the very end.

It’s a lot of work.

But hear me out.

  1. It was less intensive than I expected

The intensive Delta course lasts 8 weeks. This means that I had 8 weeks in which to complete 4 LSA’s (glossary at the end of the post)  and the 3 parts of the PDA assignment.

People on the online/blended course attend input sessions and write their background assignments throughout a longer period of time (usually 8 months), true.

But they do this while they are working, so for Module 2, candidates on an intensive course have more time than candidates on a part-time one.  Of course I didn’t have all the time in the world, but I had more time than expected because I was focusing only on my module 2 work during these 8 weeks.

  1. I was fully focused on my course

My understanding is that people choose the online/blended course because they have other commitments (teaching, family, etc.). People who choose to follow an intensive course, though, are much more focused as they spend 8 weeks dealing only with matters related to the Delta course. Also, because of the intensive nature of the course, it is less likely that one might lose touch with the subject matter. This, in my case, helped me pass Module 1 examination without spending very much time revising Module 1-related content.

I felt that this complete focus on the course without any other distractions is what helped me concentrate, organize my work and do well in all my internal assessments, as well as my final external assessments for my Module 2.

  1. I did not have to do everything at once.

Observing your colleagues is a lesson in professional development all on its own

There are, indeed, people who need more time than others and cannot handle many things in one time (like preparation and assessment for 3 Delta modules). However, the intensive course does not necessarily mean that candidates have to submit assessment for all three modules at the end of the 8-week period. The only thing that is certain is that by the end of the 8 weeks, candidates will have finished with all the attendance requirements, as well as with Module 2; whether they choose to participate in Module 1 examination and/or submit their Module 3 assignment at the end of the course is the candidates’ choice.

For example, summer candidates have until the beginning of December to revise for their Module 1 exam and to write and submit their Module 3 assignment. Or, they can wait till the next exam session in June.

  1. I acquired some invaluable organisational skills

Having to squeeze all Delta-related tasks in a 8 weeks makes candidates hone up a number of professional skills. One, inevitably, learns how to organize their time, how to be a better team player (because collaboration with one’s fellow course mates is key!), to combine  and synthesise information from different input sessions, to observe, support and help other colleagues and much more! These are skills that I did not expect I would get or improve but which I found of great value when given new responsibilities, for example in my new job supporting teachers.

  1. I learnt how to work under pressure

Being productive under pressure is not everyone’s cup of tea, but teachers do need this skill and experienced teachers who may soon need to acquire more responsibilities either as trainers or academic managers or materials writers, do need to be able to do that!

Following the course I followed an MA course in ELT (for which I got to do 3 modules less than the others because I had the Delta), I got a job supervising teachers for summer school in the UK, worked as an EAP tutor at a University in the UK and, I also got a job with a great local language centre in Greece to help with teacher development and materials writing and, believe me, all these new-found skills have truly made a great difference to my working life.

I used Trello to organise my work

Take the plunge – it’s a great course and a great experience

No matter what course mode one chooses to follow, the Cambridge Delta is – and will be – one of the most prestigious qualification one can attain. Delta holders are employable for top ELT roles in most – if not all – countries and prospective candidates should not be discouraged by hearsay.

In any case, it should be noted that even those who typically tend to scare people away from such courses or modes of study, when asked, usually confess to the Delta being one of the most eye-opening and significant experiences in their careers as teachers. It was for me, too! So I know!

So, if you are interested in applying for a Delta course, contact the centre(s) of your choice and discuss all your concerns, as well as your schedule and preferred mode of study, with an experienced tutor who will be better able to suggest a course that best suits your particular needs.


Don’t forget to socialise and collaborate – you will be making friends for life! Here, out on the town with my coursemates. 



Module 1: One of the three Delta modules. Candidates are assessed through a two-part examination,

Module 2: The second Delta module and according to many, the most demanding one. This module’s assessment is continuous and consists of the following parts:

  • Four LSA’s (Language Systems/Skills Assignment): Each LSA consists of a 2,500-word background essay, a lesson plan, delivery of a lesson, and a post-lesson written reflection. Delta candidates have to submit 4 LSAs, three of which are internally assessed and one, the last one, is assessed by an external assessor. Of those, two have to be focused on skills (reading, listening, speaking, or writing) and two on systems (grammar, lexis, discourse analysis, or phonology).
  • A PDA (Professional Development Assignment): This assignment has four parts. For the first one, candidates teach an observed diagnostic lesson, receive feedback and reflect on their performance and beliefs about teaching and learning. For the second part of the PDA, candidates do the same as with part 1 but this time they do so for their first two LSAs. Part 3 of the PDA involves the design, execution, and reflection of an experimental lesson (a lesson in which the candidate tries out a method/technique that they have never tried before in their career). The last part of the PDA involves the candidate’s reflection on their overall progress and development.

Module 3: This is the third Delta module and is assessed by submission of an extended written assignment on a specialization of the candidate’s choice. Usually, this assignment is about syllabus/course design


Interruptions | A meeting skills activity

Great post and idea for a speaking skills lesson

Image attribution: Meeting by John Benson | Creative Commons by 2.0
Screenshot of Triptico – Image attribution: Meeting by John Benson | Creative Commons by 2.0


Business meeting

Interruptions … it’s something most my learners struggle with and it’s a skill they require daily because no one in a corporate setting can escape attending at least one meeting a day, if not more. To complicate matters, turn taking varies across cultures. In the US, Northern Europe and Japan, interruptions are uncommon and generally considered rude. In France, Brazil and India, interruptions are more common and are sometimes seen as a sign of being engaged. I’ve also observed that some of my learners in India tend to completely shut up when they are in meetings with overseas clients and seniors, to the extent that even when they genuinely need to interrupt to clarify something or provide some information, they don’t.  Here’s an activity that addresses both these issues. For learners who sort of talk over each other, it offers statements that can help them more politely take the turn…

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Course Design for 9-10 year old learners in Greece

A Module 3 Assignment on Teaching Young Learners

na_yl This is is the first of a series of Module 3 assignments which we have decided to share through this blog, with the candidate’s permission, of course.

Course Design for 9-10 year old learners in Greece

The  project was written by Sharon Noseley and received a Merit Grade Especially interesting for the YL teacher:

  • the way Sharon did her needs analysis
  • the design of her syllabus

You can download the main assignment and the appendices directly from this blog. GR108_011_noseley_YL_0612 GR108_011_Delta3_noseley_appendices

About the Author

sharonSharon Noseley was a YL teacher for a number of years in Greece. She is now an EAP teacher in the UK at the De Montfort University Leicester (DMU). She tweets as  @shazno on Twitter and you can find her as  Sharon-Nosely-Kallandzhs on Facebook Her blog is TEFL Experiences 

The effect the Delta has had on my teaching and learning

After I finished my M.Ed in Tesol I thought to myself, “ok I have studied a lot, I have conducted research, written some assignments. I am ready to teach!” And I did. I have been doing so for some years actually.

Then I found out about the Delta. Whatever I thought about my teaching style, my materials, the way I planned my lessons automatically changed and I started viewing everything more critically.

Teaching my diagnostic lesson

In fact, this is probably the biggest effect. I look at my lessons more closely. I question the effectiveness of my materials,my tasks, what my aims are and how I will achieve them. I now look closely at my lessons and reflect on them. I then make an action plan and try to improve any weaknesses of my lessons. I have become better informed about my own teaching and believe I can observe others too and make suggestions regarding what could be done to make a lesson more effective for the students.

The contents of the course has been extremely beneficial. The background reading has informed me about approaches/ methodologies and educational matters which as a result have affected my teaching. My tutors’  input and feedback have steered me towards more skilled teaching and guided me throughout this whole experience. The workload is heavy and at times overwhelming. This has been an intense experience that has made me step out of my comfort zone and experiment with new teaching techniques and tools. No pain, no gain. This experience is so rewarding and the effort my tutors and I have put into it so far, has paid off.

At a more personal level, this course has given me the opportunity to meet some marvelous people who have become part of my PLN. I started attending conferences, I  have my own reflective blog and often tweet about ELT matters. All this because of the Delta.

The delta is a teacher training course which does exactly that. It trains you. No matter how many hours I have spent reading or in a classroom, the training I received during the course has truly changed the way I view myself as a teacher.

I think the key words here are: Learn- be trained-reflect and take action.

How the DELTA has shaped my thinking about teaching and learning so far.

Having done the CELTA back in 2000 I felt it was time to upgrade my knowledge and skills.

The DELTA has helped me to take a closer look at how I conduct my lessons and to learn about the theory that underpins a lot of what we teachers do in the classroom.  It has, in fact, forced me to critically examine my current beliefs about teaching and learning, which in turn has made me more aware of the teacher I want to be for my students.

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Over the past few months, I have gained great depth and breadth of knowledge and this as make me feel more confident and empowered as a teacher.  This has included new approaches, methods, techniques and activities, many of which have been incorporated into my teaching repertoire. I also feel that I am more sensitive to my learners’ needs and can give feedback in a non-threatening way.

The DELTA has also given me the opportunity to read a variety of books and academic articles, all of which have stretched my mind and brought me up to date with current trends in ELT; a must for any serious ELT teacher.

The background reading for the assignments for Module 2 has been very educational, as have the detailed lessons plans I had to produce.   I think the most useful thing I have learnt is how to make informed choices about what to teach and in what order, selecting material that is appropriate for my particular class.  The tutors I have worked with have offered constructive feedback and then by reflecting on the strengths and weaknesses of a particular lesson from the teaching practice, I have planned a course of action towards better and more effective teaching.

Being very near the end of the course, I feel I now have the skills to go on developing as a teacher by exchanging ideas with my Personal Support Network – colleagues who feel very passionate about what they do, and who are always forthcoming with innovative ideas and support.   When I finish the DELTA, I truly believe I will be in a position to apply for more senior teaching roles and I will also be eligible for Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) which means I will be able to transfer credits onto an MA in ETL/TESOL.

All in all, I would say the DELTA has been a worthwhile investment of time and my only regret is that I did not do it earlier in my career.