Are you thinking of taking your teaching career to the next level? Adrian Tennant answers a question on how to prepare for the DELTA course.

Dear Adrian,
As I will be taking the Distance DELTA in the near future, I wonder what I can do to prepare myself before the course? Any thoughts? I have a month off before it starts and want to make the most of my time studying/planning appropriately. 

Hi Lili,

To start with it’s useful to familiarize yourself with the structure of the course in terms of areas covered and requirements such as assignments. A good place to start is with the downloadable course description supplied by Cambridge ESOL at:

Or alternatively you could have a look at:

I’d suggest that you read through one of these and make notes about the areas you feel comfortable with and those you are concerned about. One thing to remember is that the course is not just about acquiring new ideas and insights, but also about being able to reflect on your teaching. I always find it useful to ask people to think about their current beliefs and what the actually do both in the classroom and while planning.

Reading for the DELTA

In all likelihood you’ll be expected to keep a reflective journal throughout the course. It’s a good idea to start thinking about this prior to the course. One book that I’ve always found useful is: Bowen, T & Marks, J. 1994. Inside Teaching (Macmillan). This is not only useful in terms of getting you to think, but has some great tasks.

A few books that I’d recommend you get, although you might not want to read them from cover to cover, are:

Parrot, M. 2000. Grammar for English Language Teachers. (CUP)
Swan, M & Smith, B [Eds]. 2001. Learner English (2nd Edition). (CUP)
Thornbury, S. 2006. An A-Z of ELT. (Macmillan)

The first of these is usually essential reading for the DELTA.

General advice

One of the aspects that many candidates find daunting is the amount of reading that is required on the DELTA. Getting a head start and focussing on those areas that you’ve identified as weaknesses in your knowledge should stand you in good stead. Having said that, you might want to take a look at the course outline and concentrate on those areas that will come up in the first couple of months of the course.

Whichever approach you decide to take the main thing is to get into a routine with your reading. Try to pace yourself and remember to keep clear notes that you can use later on in the course. Try and link everything you read to your own planning and teaching so that it becomes meaningful.

The centre you are going to take your DELTA with should supply you with a recommended booklist as well. I’d guess that if you’re doing it as a distance course it’ll either be a British Council centre or an International House one. In which case they have an online reading list at

Resources on onestopenglish

Finally, there are some useful articles on onestopenglish that will help you preparing for the DELTA. Many of the articles in the Methodology section are useful, but I’d recommend one in particular by Naashia Mohamed on reflective teaching.

Many of the articles in the Skills section are also thought provoking and will help you think about your teaching. And, Jim Scrivener’s Teaching Tips in the Methodology have lots of practical ideas that can be useful throughout the course.

I hope you enjoy the course and good luck.

Adrian Tennant
August, 2007