I recently completed the Delta module 1 exam and thought I’d share some of the books and resources that I found useful. I took the exam in June 2014 and got a pass with distinction. Before the exam, I took the Distance Delta module 1 preparation course, which I would highly recommend and will probably write more about at a later date.
The exam consists of 2 papers, and currently includes a total of nine tasks (five in paper 1 and four in paper 2). I’ll outline the books and resources that I used for each task in order, but many of the books and resources will be applicable for a number of the tasks.
In case you haven’t heard, the Delta module 1 exam will be changing slightly from June 2015, however, most of the changes will be superficial, such as changing the order of questions, combining questions and adjusting the allocation of points for each task. It looks like the content will still pretty much be the same as the current exam, and therefore the resources in this post should still be relevant. For a full list of changes and updated, you should check out the Cambridge English website.
LINKS: Most of the links for books are affiliate links to the Book Depository.
Paper One, Tasks 1 & 2
These two tasks are all about terminology. In Task 1, you are given 6 definitions and have to write down the correct term for each definition. Task 2, is almost the opposite, you are given 6 terms and have to define 4 of them, giving one example and a piece of further information for each one. The range of terminology is quite broad, and can include topics such as methodology, testing, grammar, vocabulary, etc. You should pick up a lot of terminology from your preparation of the other tasks, but there are a few resources that can help you with the terminology:
This is a very comprehensive dictionary and was my go-to source when I wanted to find out the meaning of a term. It’s around 600 pages long, but the paperback version is still small enough to fit in a bag and carry around with you.
2. An A-Z of ELT (2006) by Scott Thornbury – $33.77 on Book Depository
This is another great resource for looking up terminology. It perhaps focuses more on terms that the practicing language teacher needs to know, which is perfect for Delta candidates, rather than the more comprehensive variety of entries in the Longman Dictionary. I found that the explanations in A-Z were often more in depth than the Longman dictionary.
3. An A-Z of ELT (Online) Scott Thornbury – FREE
Following on from the success of his A-Z book, Scott Thornbury also set up a blog of the same title at scottthornbury.wordpress.com. Thornbury stopped updating the blog in 2013, but all of the entries are still there. There are a total of 151 posts on the site, and you can see the entire list by clicking on index on the top menu. Each post goes into quite some depth about each topic, and there are also lots of good comments below each post that Thornbury has responded to.
4. Quizlet (Online) – FREE
If you’ve never heard about Quizlet, you’ve been missing out. While it is not a resource for Delta itself, it’s a great tool for Delta candidates (as well as for teachers to use in their own class with students). Essentially Quizlet is a free online flashcard/learning tool to help people learn words, phrases, terms etc. This makes it great for memorizing the terminology needed for P1T1&2. You can either create your own flashcards, or search for those that have been created by others. I found one set already on the site that was particularly helpful, by a user named mcgwart. Just type in Delta module 1 to find more sets.
In addition I created my own during my preparation for the course, using the notes provided by the Distance Delta course. Every time I came across a term that I didn’t know the meaning of, I added it to my set of words, and then tried to review the words every couple of days. Quizlet also has an Android app (and I assume iPhone app) so that you can get some practice in while you’re on the way to work.
Paper One, Task 3
For task 3, you will be shown either a speaking or writing (i.e. production) activity for students. You then have to identify five language features that learners at a given level will need to know in order to complete the task successfully. This task tests your knowledge of language, and you are expected to know about things such as register, cohesion, organization and grammar & lexis. I found that I was able to draw on my experience as a teacher quite a bit for this task. Afterall the Delta is designed for teachers who have at least 2 years’ experience.
5. About Language (1997) by Scott Thornbury – $40.02 on Book Depository
It’s quite difficult to find a book that is directly relevant to this task, but Scott Thornbury’s About Language is a good start. The book contains several short chapters that are full of activities designed to raise teachers’ awareness of language. Each chapter is fairly short and it includes a full answer key at the back. The book covers a number of topics, such as word types, clauses and discourse. This is also a good book for Paper One, Task 4.
Paper One, Task 4
(Note: This task will become task 5 of paper one from June 2015)
Task 4 is one of the tasks that you probably want to devote quite a bit of time to. It’s currently worth 40 marks (out of 100 for paper 1), and can be quite an easy place to score heavily because you get a mark for every relevant point that you make – from 2015, the allocation of marks will increase to 50, which means even more of an incentive to prepare well for this question. In this task, you are shown a piece of authentic material, such as a newspaper article, website, leaflet etc. and you have to analyse certain features of the text and explain the form, meaning, use, pronunciation and problems for students. Here, you really need to be up on your knowledge of pedagogic grammar and phonology (although to a lesser extent for the latter).
Sue Swift is a Delta trainer and examiner, and in fact, her whole series of posts on the Delta exam is an excellent resource for Delta candidates. However, I found her post on P1T4 particularly very helpful, as she explains what is meant by form, meaning, use, pronunciation and problems for students and what you should (and shouldn’t) write for each part.
7. Explaining English Grammar (1999) by George Yule – $43.28 on Book Depository
First off, I love this book. I mean really love it. I’d even go as far to say that it might quite possibly be my favourite book ever. I don’t know what it is about it, but I just find it so easy to read and understand. While Thornbury’s About Language does have a lot of good activities, it lacks any real in depth explanation of the language. Explaining English Grammar however does exactly what it says on the tin. George Yule takes 10 areas of grammar, and thoroughly explains them along with activities and an answer key so that you can check your understanding as you go along. Most of the topics that are covered, such as relative clauses, seem to come up quite regularly in task 4.
8. The English Verb (1986) by Michael Lewis – $44.54 on Book Depository
Michael Lewis is probably best known for his promotion of the Lexical Approach, but 7 years before his book on the approach was published, he wrote the English Verb. In the book, he essentially argues that the English verb system is not as complicated as it might seem at first, and each chapter covers a different area of the verb system, such as modality, semi-modality, tense and aspect. This book really gave me a much clearer understanding of the verb system and is highly recommended. It’s not really that long, and if there’s only one book you have time to read before your course begins, this should be pretty high on the top of the list.
9. Sound Foundations (2005) by Adrian Underhill – $33.10 on Book Depository
While you probably need to know more about grammar for this task, the chances are you will be asked about pronunciation as well. If you are, you need to know about phonemic script and use it. Pronunciation might also come up in the terminology questions (P1T1&2), and in Paper One, Task 5, if you have to analyse a piece of spoken language. Sound Foundations really is an excellent introduction to pronunciation, and really helps you to get to grips with what language teachers need to know.
As a way to help promote the aforementioned book on pronunciation, Macmillan Education ELT have made a 1-hour recording of a workshop by Adrian Underhill available on YouTube. This really is a great video and complements the book perfectly, by giving you a brief taster of the topic.
If you’re still looking for more on phonology, English Phonetics and Phonology is a really great book. I had it left over from my MA, and it probably goes into a bit more depth than is necessary for the Delta, but because of the way it is structured – as a practical course – it is really easy to work through. That being said, if you’re just about to start your course, you won’t have that much time for reading, so Sound Foundations should be enough for the Delta, but if you’re still a way off from starting a course for module 1, and want to do some reading, then this is a good book to help give you a really solid understanding of phonology.
Paper One, Task 5
(Note: This task will become task 4 of paper one from June 2015)
In this task, you have to analyse a learner-produced text. This will either be a piece of writing or a piece of transcribed spoken text. The aim of the task is to identify three areas that the student uses well and three areas that the student needs to improve on. There are no additional books that I haven’t already mentioned above that I used to help me prepare for this task, although there is one resource that every practicing language teacher should have access to…
12. Your Learners
I found that the best way to prepare for this task was simply by correcting my students’s work. This may of course be something that you already do, but by providing my students with feedback at the end of their work on three things they did well and three things that they could improve on, it really gave me a lot of practice. The areas that you have to focus on are similar to those for Task 3 (register, cohesion, organisation, range and complexity of grammar, range and complexity of lexis and pronunciation if you have to analyse a spoken text), so it’s probably a good idea to try to focus on these areas when you are checking your students’ work.
Paper Two, Task 1
In this task, you are given a language test and have to evaluate the effectiveness of the test. I found this task quite difficult at first because I’ve never really done language testing. However, after doing a couple of practice activities you can use a bit of common sense. I didn’t use a book to help me prepare for this part of the exam, so I can’t comment about any titles with authority, but Testing for Language Teachers by Arthur Hughes seems to be quite popular, and I’ve heard good things about it from people who have used it (For my Delta module 3 assignment, I am focusing on teaching for exams, and it is one of the books that I have just ordered).
This is another good blog for Delta candidates by Dale Coulter. I found it particularly useful for P2T1 because about a quarter way down the page there is a document that lists around 20 of the key terms for language testing. You are expected to use testing terminology in the task, and by knowing it, I found that it really helped me to think of ideas for this task. The document embedded on the blog is a matching activity with a key at the end.
Paper Two, Tasks 2 & 3
(Note: Tasks 2 and 3 will be combined into just task 2 from June 2015)
Tasks 2 & 3 of paper two are closely connected and task 2 leads in to task 3, which is why the two tasks will be combined into one from 2015. For me, these were the most difficult tasks of the exam because they focus on coursebooks, and I have hardly ever used coursebooks. For the task, you have to look at an excerpt from a published coursebook and in task 2 talk about the purpose of each activity and the underlying assumptions that the author had in mind. In task 3 you have to talk about how the activities combine together. Essentially this activity is assessing your knowledge of approaches and methodologies.
OUP ELT holds regular webinars (online seminars) aimed at language teachers. Many of the webinars are based around some of their coursebooks and are often presented by the authors themselves, so it is a great way to get a different perspective on the activities in coursebooks. Most webinars also allow you to interact with the presenter by asking questions. Cambridge University Press also holds webinars, although at the time of writing there aren’t any scheduled. The webinars are a great way to understand the author’s point of view, which can help with answering the part about assumptions.
15. Teacher’s Books
Most coursebooks also come with complementary teacher’s books, which usually contain guidance and hints for the teacher, which can also give you an idea of how the activities fit together.
Paper Two, Task 4
(Note: This task will become task 3 from June 2015)
This task is the most difficult to prepare for simply because it is the most open. Typically you will see an extract related to ELT, such as an activity, an excerpt from a methodology book, a lesson plan etc. along with 2 or 3 questions. You then have to make as many points as possible in answer to the questions. The questions might be based on methodology, SLA, approaches, teacher and learner roles or anything else ELT related. From June 2015, the way the question needs to be answered will change slightly, but the knowledge you need will remain the same. Again this is another chance to score many marks so it’s a good idea to be as prepared as possible.
16. How Languages are Learned (2006) by Patsy Lightbown and Nina Spada – $35.48 on Book Depository
This is a really accessible book that is a great introduction to second language acquisition. The book is written with language teachers in mind, which makes it very relevant for Delta candidates. This is another book that would be great to read through before the beginning of the course if you have access to it. There is a newer edition available, although I had the 2006 edition lying around, but a look at the contents page of the newer version suggests that the structure is the same, so if you can get the newer version, it’s probably a good idea.
17. Big Questions in ELT (2013) by Scott Thornbury – $8.25 on the-round.com
This is another of Scott Thornbury’s books, and is based on his A-Z blog. The book is only available as an e-book from the-round.com and is very reasonably priced. In it, Thornbury builds on some of the ideas he talked about on his blog and poses a number of questions at the end of each chapter for the reader to think about. Each chapter is really short and easy to digest. I actually only bought this a couple of days before the exam and read most of it on the train up to Seoul to take the exam, but am really glad I did because in the June 2014 exam, the topic was PPP, which was one of the chapters.
Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching is a really good introduction that takes a chronological look at the different methods/approaches that have shaped the ELT world over the last 40 or 50 years. Each chapter takes a look at a different method by looking at the approach, design and procedure that make up the method. The authors attempt to take an unbiased view and present the methods as they see them. There is also a newer version that was released a couple of months ago, so if you are going to buy the book, it’s probably a good idea to go for the newer version again.
This is a really enjoyable webinar from 2012 by Chia Suan Chong in which she takes a look at the major methods and approaches from the beginning of ELT right up to what we’re ‘supposed to be doing’ now: principled eclecticism. It’s just over an hour long, but will definitely give you a good overview of the history of ELT. She also did another version of this webinar earlier this year over at 4c in ELT.
While there is no sure fire way to get a distinction on the Delta module 1 exam, the best thing to do is be as prepared as possible. If you decide to do a course through the likes of Distance Delta or Bell, which you really should, it’s a good idea to get as much of the reading done before the course as possible. If your experience is anything like mine, once the course begins, there is so much to learn about the exam itself and exam technique that you won’t have as much time for reading.
Note on prices: All of the prices (except for Thornbury’s Big Questions in ELT) are taken from the Book Depository, which offers free shipping worldwide, so the price you see is the price of the book delivered. The Book Depository uses a special algorithm to calculate its prices, so the price you see on their website might be slightly different to the price in the post. All links to the Book Depository are affiliate links.