What I think the Delta course is going to be like

So, I’m doing the 8-week face-to-face Delta programme offered by International House Bangkok. I’ll be taking it from mid-March to mid-May this year. By the end, I will have completed Module 2, had some preparation for Module 1 (most of it indirect, I believe) and been primed for Module 3.

The Module 1 exam will be on June 1st, so I’ll have about a half month after the course finishes to prepare solely for that.

Module 3 can be submitted June next year.

Of course, I could also do the Module 1 exam in December, or submit Module 3 next year in December, instead.

As I said, the course at IH is going to be 8-weeks. Monday to Friday, 10am-5pm.

Mornings

As I currently understand it, we (me and up to 6 other trainees) will be given a group of learners that will be “ours” for the whole course. Every morning from 10 to 12 we take turns teaching or observing this class (I believe we can also spend some of this time preparing assignments, too).

This gives us the opportunity to get to know the class and its learners well, as a teacher normally would with any class. It also gives us lots of opportunity for observing each other – something that I seldom get a chance to do but believe has immense value.

Just four of each of our lessons will be assessed, and each of these lessons will be linked to a specific Language Systems/Skills Assignment (LSA) that we write. Each of these includes analysis of a specific area within a language system (phonology, grammar, lexis, or discourse) or language skill (speaking, listening, reading, or writing); a lesson plan; and a lesson evaluation of the lesson.

I hear that we have a large amount of freedom in what we decide to teach and how we teach it.

The deciding factor in whether I pass an assessed lesson or not is if the learners have made progress in the area I intended and that I can justify everything I did in a lesson (no matter what it was that I did!).

I like this learner-centric view of assessment – after all, the purpose of a teacher is to improve his or her learners. There’s no greater sense of achievement when we observe our learners adeptly producing the language goals we (or they!) set them(selves!), right?

I also like the non-prescriptive method of teaching – having the freedom to teach how we like as long as we can justify it and it works.

Anyway, getting back to teaching and observing lessons: After a lesson, there’s a feedback session, with the trainee teacher, other trainees, and trainer.

Afternoons

Afternoons are designated “input sessions” where we delve deeper into the various areas of ELT. I’m really looking forward to deepening my understanding of how the English language works and how learners learn languages.

Like many EFL/ESL teachers, a big portion of my teaching skill development and knowledge of the English language has been rather informal, opportunistic, and unstructured: picked up through the teacher’s book or notes that come with a student’s course book, for example.

The following might sound familiar: Have a page coming up in my current course book on the present perfect simple? Better learn (or these days review – I’m not a complete novice anymore!) the meaning and use of that form and ways to teach and have learners practice it.

Ironically, the other major input source has actually been from doing the exercises in my learner’s course books! (At least, this was very true back when I was still starting out – but still holds true from time to time, especially with new materials!)

Anyway, needless to say, I’m really looking forward to these formal, structured “input sessions”.

So, that’s what I hear most days on the course are going to be like.

Weeknights and weekends

Weekday evenings and weekends will be spent reading, preparing assignments, or getting some much-needed R&R.

Apart from the LSAs, there’s also a Professional Development Assignment (PDA) that has us evaluate our current state as English language teachers and set goals for development, culminating in teaching an Experimental Lesson (a lesson where we try a methodology that’s completely new to us).

In summary

I believe the next 8 weeks will be…

a lot of teaching;
a lot of observing;
a lot of reading;
a lot of writing;
a lot of paradigm shifting;
a lot of eye-opening;
a lot of self-development;
a lack of sleep;
a lack of everything non-Delta-related;
and last, but certainly not least, hugely rewarding!

S-)

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