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Preparing for Delta Module 1

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More than 30% of module 1 takers fail this first step towards obtaining their Delta qualification. In this post you will find some of the most useful ways to prepare for this tricky exam.

What is Delta Module 1?

Presumably most people who found this page already know something about the Delta course, but for anyone who has stumbled upon this page, here is a quick explanation.

Delta is a diploma in teaching English to adults. It is a higher-level qualification than the CELTA, being equivalent to part of a masters’ degree (in fact you can use credits from Delta towards some masters’ degrees). It consists of three modules which can be taken separately or integrated into one course. In module 1, you complete a theory-based exam. The exam itself takes 3 hours and consists of two papers, each lasting 90 minutes. The papers test knowledge of terminology, teaching and testing theory and language awareness.

The exam is marked out of 200 (100 for each paper) and this is then translated into a grade which can be distinction (75%), merit (65%), pass (50%) or fail. Each year around 70% get a pass or better, with 15% getting a merit and 8% getting a distinction. In practical terms however, there is no real advantage to getting a merit or distinction in any module of the DELTA.

Why is it Difficult?

As with many exams, what makes module 1 difficult is not necessarily the content itself, but knowing what the examiner is looking for. That said, you also do need to have a good grasp of the content of the module 1 exam if you wish to succeed, and certainly if you are looking to take a merit or distinction. More than 30% fail each year, therefore it is worth taking a preparation course to ensure you are not one of them. Don’t end up like Mr. Bean in the video above!

What Should you Know about Module 1?

As with any exam, there are essentially two things you need to know about module 1:

  1. What content the exam covers;
  2. How you should approach the questions.

I will cover these points in the remainder of this post.

What does Module 1 Cover?

Module 1 consists of two papers which contain different tasks and cover different aspects.

Paper 1

Task 1 & 2:

For these tasks you need to know your teaching terminology. The first task will give you six definitions for which you have to provide the term. The second will give you four more terms for which you have to provide a definition and an example. While you might think that this sounds easy, defining terms can be difficult at the best of times, yet alone under the pressure of an exam. This is a great opportunity to score some quick-fire points however. Either way, these two tasks only actually account for 9% of the whole exam, and are probably the easiest part to prepare for (assuming time is on your side).

Task 3:

In this task you are given a speaking or writing task from published materials. The task will also identify a couple of language features which students will need to complete the task. You should identify a further three language features which students will need and provide examples. This is also a small part of the exam, and can be fairly easy to prepare for as a number of language features will apply to any speaking or writing task.

Task 4:

In this task you are given either a written or spoken transcript of a learner-produced text. You should analyse the text and then identify a total of four strengths and weaknesses of the text (you can have two of each, or three strengths and one weakness or vice versa). Each strength or weakness should be supported with examples, and marks are only awarded if the strength or weakness is correctly identified. In a spoken transcript, some IPA transcription may be provided to highlight pronunciation issues.

Task 5:

This task makes up 25% of the whole exam and therefore is the most important task on the paper. The task begins by asking you to recognise genre features of a given text. These should, as always, be accompanied with examples from the text. In the next part you are asked to analyse the meaning, form, use and phonological features of a number of words and phrases from the text, and may also be asked to identify problems that students may have with the language. With the right approach and depending on the highlighted words, you can rack up points very quickly.

Paper 2

Task 1:

This task requires you to know about testing in order to evaluate the effectiveness of a given test in a specific context. This test may have been produced by a teacher or from an international exam such as the Cambridge suite of exams. You may be tempted to believe that a Cambridge exam (appearing on a Cambridge Delta paper) is going to be a good example of a test, however such exams are also open to criticism, especially if they are not being used for their intended purpose. You should make six points about the provided test, each with an example.

Task 2:

This is the most significant task on the second paper and is worth 21% overall, so is worth spending some time preparing for. In this task, you are given some coursebook materials and the task of identifying their purpose and how they fit together. You should then identify the assumptions that the materials make about language, teaching and the learning process. To some extent this is not too difficult to prepare for if you frequently ask yourself “why does the coursebook want me to teach this?” Also there are a number of assumptions commonly held by coursebook writers which are also memorisable.

Task 3:

This is also a very important task, worth 20% of the overall result. However, this is the most difficult task to prepare for as it could be on almost anything related to ELT. In this task you are given some material designed for teachers and asked to comment on it. You need to make a minimum of 15 points about the material taking an in-depth view of the material presented to gain maximum marks. In my case, I had to compare delayed and immediate error correction which was a nice easy topic to find plenty to say about.

How Should you Approach the Questions?

Probably reading the above you have thought ‘that seems like a lot to write, especially while analysing so much material’. You are correct. DELTA trainers therefore advise that you don’t answer the questions in full prose as this is time-consuming. Instead you should answer using bullet points, lists and tables. This allows you to make your points and examples very clear to the examiner.

For some questions you might memorise the different factors to look out for as some kind of mnemonic or acronym (e.g. CLLOGS – read on to find out what it means). For these questions, work through the different factors systematically, remembering to provide accurate examples.

In some questions you can also memorise different possibilities such as assumptions for paper 2, task 2. This is fine, but the ones that you use in your answer should be clearly relevant. Also it is worth trying to identify those other than your stock answers as examiners are likely to have a good idea of what candidates have memorised and may award points less generously for these answers.

A tricky part of the exam is making sure your points don’t overlap or are sufficiently wide or narrow. In the case of a speaking activity for which you must provide necessary language features, turn-taking is likely to be important to some extent. However, students may need more specific feature such as interjecting, inviting others’ opinions or recognising turn boundaries. In some speaking activities these may play such a fundamental role to justify mentioning them separately. In other activities, their individual mention is likely to be seen as overlapping.

How Should you Prepare for Module 1?

Take a Course?

It is strongly recommended that you take a course for Delta module 1. There are many places which offer these courses either face to face or online. However, having done an online course myself, I think I would have preferred to do a face to face course if it was available. This is my preference because:

  • studying with others means you can help each other;
  • studying online increases the amount of reading;
  • there is less immediate feedback;
  • meeting other professionals is beneficial in establishing a professional development network beyond the course.

You can find a course simply by typing Delta module 1 course into Google. Some places that I know offer such courses are (please contact me if you wish to see your centre added):

Other than a DELTA module 1 course, the International House CAM (Certificate of Advanced Methodology) is also a good option for preparing for all modules of Delta.


Reading widely about ELT is advisable for any teacher, but there are some certain books and websites that can be particularly useful for Delta module 1 (and others). These resources will help you to hit the ground running on a preparation course.

The following list is not exhaustive. For the complete reading list click here.


This is a very useful source for the memorisable parts of the exam, including:

The Takeaway

Delta module 1 is a very different animal to CELTA. It is much harder, and a large number of people actually fail. Even to pass, you will probably need to spend some time preparing (no matter how good a teacher you are). Taking a preparation course is definitely worth doing, and some extra preparation using the other resources above is likely to help too.

Good luck with your Delta module 1 studies.

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