Doing the CELTA course was one of the most fun and challenging experiences I’ve ever had. I had no experience prior to doing it, and I learned so much in such a short period of time. I left the course highly motivated, ready to teach and prepared to further develop my knowledge and skills.

In the next few years, I learned a lot from my classes, my mentors, and the colleagues in the staff room. However, it became clear that often the people who were able to help me the most, had all done something called ‘the DELTA course.’

What fresh hell is this?‘ I wondered.

I asked around and was told that the DELTA course was tough. But after talking at length with the trainers, I felt more confident about taking it on.

The course itself shared some similar challenges with the CELTA: the late nights; the observations; and of course, the abbreviations and jargon! There were also familiar positives: bonding with a new group of teachers; the practical input; and the feeling of genuine learning. And, just like the CELTA, when I’d finished the course I felt that it had been worth it. There was an immediate improvement in my teaching, and I felt more confident about the decisions I made in planning and in the classroom. In the years following the course, I’ve also had some great career opportunities too, many of which wouldn’t have been possible without the delta qualification.

So, if you are considering the course, here are my top tips for surviving it!

Pre-course reading

Your tutors will make suggestions regarding which books to read prior to the course. The more you read, the less head scratching you will do in input sessions. One voracious reader on my course devoured the whole reading list! If you don’t have the appetite for the whole list, then I’d recommend: anything from the ‘How to…?’ series; ‘Grammar for English Language Teachers’ by Martin Parrott; and ‘About Language’ by Scott Thornbury.

Listen to your tutors

Maybe you are coming to the course with decades of teaching experience! Maybe you are coming to the course with pockets full of university degrees! Regardless, your tutors are the experts in maximising your chances of getting the best grade. If they say, ‘do this for homework’ – do it! When they tell you, ‘this is how you answer the exam’ – that’s how you should answer it! There are times for interesting debates on the DELTA, and times when you should simply accept that they know best!

Support group

Your tutors will encourage you to work together with your fellow DELTA trainees. You can also reach out to anyone you know who has done the course before. If possible, meet with these people to share tips, ideas, resources, websites, or even just grumbles. Go for coffee, or Sunday brunch! If you can’t physically meet up, then make sure you have an online platform or a group on an instant messenger.

Time management and coping strategies

A slice of time is about to be removed from your life; you need to decide where it’s coming from. Mornings? Nights? Weekends? And it can’t be all work. You need time to switch off. One guy I knew started going jogging at midnight to help him clear his head. I got into a new TV series: if I managed all the work I’d planned, I’d reward myself with a Game of Thrones episode. Some people prefer shorter breaks with a cigarette or a beer/glass of wine! Find something that works for you…

Scott Donald

Teacher and Teacher Trainer, CLIC IH Sevilla

Scott has been working in ELT since 2010. He spent four years in Hungary working for IH Budapest, where he did the DELTA and subsequently held the positions of Senior Teacher and YL-Coordinator. He left the cold winters behind and came to sunny CLIC IH Sevilla in 2014 to take on new challenges, such as examining, speaking at conferences and becoming a CELTA tutor. Always eager to learn, he puts his achievements down to a love of teaching, training and stealing other people's ideas.

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