Delta Module 1 – Understanding Language, Methodology and Resources for Teaching – An overview.

If you have stumbled across this post and are wondering what Delta is, please go to my first post and then come back.

So, Module 1. Have you ever walked into a situation thinking you had everything under control and then realised you were massively unequipped to be there? Well, that’s pretty much how most teachers feel when they start preparing for Delta Module 1. Module 1 is certainly a beast, but hopefully this blog post will give you a clearer idea of what’s involved, where to start, and what to start with.

The basics

The first thing you need to know is that Module 1 is assessed via written examination – two 90-min papers with a 30-min break in between. Paper one focuses on systems (lexis, grammar, discourse and phonology) and language awareness (what language is required by the learner, etc.), whilst paper two focuses on methodology and teaching beliefs. There are a total of 200 marks over the two papers (100 in each), and in order to get a pass, you are required to get at least 100. Don’t be fooled by the ‘low’ pass mark – it is an exceptionally difficult exam!

The breakdown

I remember the exam being a very ‘official’ process – there were two exam supervisors in the room, the papers were all sealed and then opened together, all the candidates had to sign, etc. For each of the papers, you will be given the question sheet and then an answer booklet, all of which is then resealed after the exam (and then sent off to be assessed by Cambridge).

Paper 1 consists of five tasks:

  1. Six definitions are given and you need to provide the correct term.  (6 marks)
  2. Four terms are given and you need to write a definition and an example for each. (12 marks)
  3. You are provided with an ELT coursebook or exam activity and are tasked with identifying three language features that learners would need in order to complete the activity successfully. (12 marks)
  4. You are given an authentic spoken or written text and are tasked with identifying four of the learner’s strengths and weaknesses. (20 marks)
  5. You are given an authentic text (newspaper article, website, etc.) and you need to identify features of the text which are typical of its genre and identify and explain the form, meaning, use and phonological features of three different language items. You may also need to write about problems learners might have with the text. (50 marks)

Paper 2 consists of three tasks:

  1. You need to evaluate the effectiveness of a test in detail. (18 marks)
  2. You are given a piece of ELT material and need to identify its purpose and then talk about the assumptions the author makes towards learning and teaching. (42 marks)
  3. You answer questions related to ELT material, methodology or some other ELT facet. (40 marks)


  1. Dedicate time to studying ELT terminology. Quizlet is an amazing app you can use.
  2. Get your hands on past exams and time yourself doing full exams – the number of tasks gives the impression that you will have time left over – you won’t. And, getting used to the fatigue that comes with doing such big exams is important. You can find lots of the past exams here.
  3. If you can, prepare for the exam with other people. If you take a preparation course, you will obviously have a tutor, however try to prepare with another teacher. I did this with my boss and it worked great because we were able to pick each other’s brains for ideas and knowledge (very important for tasks 4 and 5 in paper 1, and task 2 and 3 in paper 2).
  4. Do the ‘big’ tasks first. If you haven’t gathered already, time is not your friend in this exam. Go for the tasks with the most points first. This was a big learning curve for me as I had always done exams from front to back without really thinking about the value of the activities. Also, if you do go from front to back, don’t spend too long on the terms that you don’t know – come back to them at the end.
  5. Get used to writing again. Living in the digital age means that we generally type everything, so the first time you do a practice exam your hand is going to be hurting.
  6.  Make sure you start every question on a new page. You are going to be writing a lot and the information you present needs to be clear and legible – don’t try to cram everything on one page. Sandy Millin gives some good advice on how to lay out your pages on her blog.
  7. Get well acquainted with the Delta handbook AND the Delta examination reports. These go into detail about what the tasks include, what you should do and what you should not do.
  8. Phonemics (I can hear the groans already). They are your friends. Learn them. You need them.

Suggested reading

So, you’ve gone through all of that and you’re wondering where to start with regard to reading. To be honest, this was perhaps the biggest challenge I faced when I began preparing for Module 1 – I had no idea where to start. This list is certainly not exhaustive, but it is a good start.

    • Jeremey Harmer – The Practice of English Language Teaching – This is the language teacher’s bible. Even if you’re not taking Delta, you should have this on your bookshelf.
    • Scott Thornbury – The New A-Z of ELT. This is meant to be a reference book, however I read it front to back for Module 1 – lots of terminology is explained in really clear detail.
    • Scott Thornbury – About Language. This book is full of tasks that are similar to those in Module 1. What’s good is that Thornbury gives detailed answers so you know where you went wrong. Excellent book for teacher trainers as well!
    • Martin Parrot – Grammar for English Language Teachers. This pedagogic grammar (a grammar book for teachers) is awesome. It’s long, but Parrot gives you everything in bite-sized chunks – really easy to read and digest.
    • Diane Larsen-Freeman – Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching . This book will make talking about teaching beliefs and assumptions a whole lot easier. It goes through the different methodologies used in the world of ELT today, how they are implemented and even gives you a detailed account of a lesson conducted using that methodology.
    • Adrian Underhill – Sound Foundations. Your go-to book for everything phonology.
    • H. Douglas Brown – Principles of Language Learning and Teaching and Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. These two books will sate your thirst for ELT knowledge. They cover everything is good detail. Well worth the money.

So, I’ve given you a list to start from. Be selective, take notes, dedicate time to reading and, more importantly, enjoy it!

Final note

Module 1 is a big undertaking, however it really does lay the foundations for the rest of the Delta and, more importantly, your teaching. The only negative thing that I can think of is the length of time after your exam you have to wait before receiving your results – two months! Those two months for me were horrible, simply because of the constant anxious butterflies I had in my stomach. However, once you find out that you have passed, the sense of elation is overwhelming!

Hopefully this blog post has not scared you away from Module 1 – in fact, I hope it motivates you to do it. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in contact. Also, if there are any other teachers who have completed Delta and think I have left something out, let me know!


  1. Thanks, very useful


    1. Sujata says:

      Thanks, very informative and useful.


      1. Thank you, Sujata!


  2. Farida Begum says:

    I am speechless. I was just thinking to quit DELTA. But, this great piece of information boosted my spirit.I dare to dream!!
    Many Thanks and God Bless !!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Farida! Stay strong!


  3. David says:

    Thanks for your super helpful resources. The link to past papers is dead. Any idea about where I might find some? Thank you 🙂


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