DELTA notes

Reading for DELTA M3 (the whats and hows)

Reading is the key activity for a successful assignment. DELTA tutors seem to be very interested in what the trainees are reading and how much of the theory they can apply in a practical way when creating the course design. Let’s talk a bit more about this side of your studies.

Reading lists

There are so many of them. Some suggest an endless list of books, others are pretty short and precise. Whichever way you go, you may want to get information from Cambridge, to be on the safe side.
After looking through the official website you’ll quickly lose hope to get “the one and only official list of recommended books”. Cambridge suggests you addressing one of the training centers or self-study with a very nice wording:

You can prepare by reading and studying independently using reference books focusing on your chosen specialism, as well as assessment, syllabus and course design.

In other words, it’s up to you what books and how many to read. But, if you are not happy with that vague advice, you can always ask Google. And Google will readily offer you lots and lots of links to the websites of those centers, blogs, and articles on the topic.
Let’s take, for example,  the reading list from NILE. It has a reasonable length and a few comments on the content. Or, check one of the blogs.  This or that way you would end up with a list of golden works which you cannot ignore.  There you will find Graves K., Richards J., Nunan D. and a few more.

The whens

People advise starting reading as soon as possible. In other words, as soon as you have decided to embark on DELTA Module 3 course. It makes perfect sense as it will take lots of time. Sometimes, not just the reading itself, but just finding or getting access to the hard version of the book. Plan ahead. Read ahead.

You will have two stages of your reading: first, for the first section, specific materials for your specialism and, later, general books for all other sections added up by more specific books on needs analysis, assessment etc.

It may turn out that you will need not only to read for ideas but also to find readings that would support your ideas and experience; it is even more time-consuming.

The whats

It may seem to be an obvious part but your reading is not only about the books. Do not forget to keep in mind and occasionally add other materials. The most obvious source is ELT magazines but you can look wider: check the outlines of conference talks, scripts of interviews, presentations, websites with articles on your topic etc.

Try to keep your sources varied. I do not have any proof but I have a strong feeling that a candidate who sticks just to the mentioned books and read nothing but the most praised writers may get a lower total score for the lack of curiosity and readiness to dig deeper. Another problem with those praised books is that most of them were published years and years ago (well, some of them are older than me) and there are so many changes in the methodology of teaching that some ideas may be outdated or widely criticised.

The last point here – try to stick to the writers who were writing about everything in one reference book. The texts lack depth and will not look like a reliable and serious source to build your work on.

The review of the literature should go beyond simply finding one or two sources which describe the specialism, and should show that the candidate has read and synthesised a number of key sources, typically at least five to six in Part 1. (The handbook, p. 71)

The hows

You need to keep in mind two main features of DELTA reading:

  1. So little time, so much to read.
  2. Reading should be for a purpose. Do not read simply to put a tick on your reading list.

To rephrase it, all your reading should be meaningful. Don’t waste your time on the chapter you will not use in the assignment. Use book reviews, content and index pages to understand if you need to give your attention to certain parts.

Reading should not be lonely. Accompany it with note-taking. I prefer using soft copies of books and other materials as it’s quick and easy to build my own set of quotations: copy paste plus numbers of pages. I had a document with pages for each section. If the book covers sections 3 and 4, I can quickly put ideas in order for my future use. It is very helpful for section writing as gives a big picture and the references.


Any time you mention a source in your assignment, make sure that you haven’t made a mistake in (or just forgotten) the name, the publication details, page number etc. It is super important and will save lots of time later. Looking for a single quote from the whole book may take lots of time and drive you crazy.

Be very careful with articles and other publications. Do not blindly trust everyone just because they were published. Unfortunately, the bibliography details may be not full or even wrong.

Do not copy something without double-checking and make sure that the source is trustworthy. With the technology development, the issue of source credibility is getting more attention than ever before. Obviously, Wikipedia and little blogs are not credible. But what about a blog of a big figure in ELT? Depends on the style but it can be a good source of inspiration and ideas which may go out of the main trends. Also, those blogs can give you the understanding of the current state of things in ELT, which is a nice reality check after going through thirty-year-old books. Check this article to find out more ways to check the reliability and credibility of different types of texts.

Finally, count the references for each section.

Candidates should show an extensive range of reading resources. There should be explicit evidence of background reading in all of the first four sections of the assignment. This will typically include four to six sources for each section. Some sources may be referred to in more than one section of the assignment but overall reference should be made to 8–10 sources. (The handbook, p. 75)

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