Monday, February 23, 2015

Delta Module 3: The Reading Rainbow

So, I've had a terrible few months, but would prefer not to dwell on it here (as longtime readers know, I lost my mom in December), and will get right down to business.

As the magnificent shitstorm that was my life ramped up in October and November, I was also working through my Delta Module 3 extended assignment with The Distance Delta. For those who don't know what this is,

I chose Business English as a specialty and used one of my more unusual classes as the group of learners (I didn't do this purposely - they were the only Business English group class I had at the time). In the end I got a Pass With Merit (yay!) but was extremely stressed out (boo!).

After this challenging class, I have some thoughts and words of advice. I started out with a recommended pre-course reading list (as in, what to read before the module even began so you'd have more time during the module to design and analyze your course and learners) with advice after it, but the reading list grew so long I decided to turn it into its own blog post.

So, here's the reading, stay tuned for the advice.

1.) Pick a specialism early and read up on it before you start. 

Some common specialties are:

Exam Classes
Teaching Young Learners
Business English
Teaching One-on-One
ELT management
English for Academic Purposes
Teaching Monolingual Classes
Teaching Multilingual Classes

...and more.

I can't recommend what to read in every specialism, but I can speak to Business English (my choice) and Exam Classes (my husband's choice). For Business English, before you start the module, read either or both of these:

How to Teach Business English by Evan Frendo
The York Associates Teaching Business English Handbook by Nick Brieger

The former is shorter and easier to digest for someone who has never taught BE than the latter. The latter will be meatier fodder for the experienced BE teacher. Both are worth reading as both will give you the citations you need when writing the paper. Used copies are fine, no need to get the latest edition.

As English as used for business is pretty solidly in EIL (English as an International Language) territory, you may also want to get your early reading party on with Teaching English as an International Language by Sandra McKay. I read this late in my work for this paper and wish I had read it earlier.

There are also tons of articles you can read in ELT journals - most classes will give you access to their subscriptions so unless you have one or have access to one already, these can wait until the course begins.

For exam classes, start out with  Exam Classes by Peter May - Brendan found this a bit pedantic but it's useful for anyone new to the specialism, and great for citations.

Both BE and Exam Classes fall under ESP (English for Specific Purposes), and I do recommend reading the seminal work in that area by Hutchinson and Waters. It's reasonably engaging as academic works go and is fantastic for citations.


Because you will have to do a lot of reading for this course, we're talking a few books a week. Most of them you can skim or read shallowly, but it's still a mountain of material. If you know you're going to do this and you know what your specialism. In addition, if you are not experienced in your specialism, this will give you an inkling early on regarding whether it's right for you.

2.) Module 3's written assignment is in 5 sections plus appendices. Read up on some areas covered in it before you begin.

The 5 parts of your main assignment are:

1.) An overview of your specialism (specific to the specialism but not the class)

2.) A description of your needs analysis and diagnostic tests of your class with a short class profile, including results.

3.) A description of your designed syllabus including justification for your choices

4.) Formative and summative assessment and how it will be carried out

5.) A conclusion tying everything together

All of these areas require a minimum number of works cited and all fall within strict word limit guidelines, which were designed by sadists who will burn in Hell. You can find all of that information here. 

Again, will greatly reduce your reading list down the line, giving you more time to create, administer and analyze diagnostic test and needs analysis results, devise a class and write about it. You want that time. You need that time. Take that time by getting the reading done early.

Some recommendations:

Part 1: See #1 for two specialisms, I can only say so much here

Part 2: 

Syllabus Design by David Nunan (there's a chapter on needs analysis)
Designing Language Courses by Kathleen Graves - great for needs analysis

I would not recommend reading the entirety of the final three books - pick and choose your chapters. The first book is short and easily digestible, though a bit dull (David Nunan knows his stuff but isn't, shall we say, the most engaging writer).

Part 3: 

Actually, what you might read in Part 3 is similar to Part 2 - move on from the chapters on assessing needs and read the ones on creating syllabuses.

Part 4: 

Learning About Language Assessment by Kathleen Bailey - some solid info on diagnostic testing
Testing for Language Teachers by Arthur Hughes

Part 5: 

This is a conclusion - no extra reading required or desired

Again, this isn't a comprehensive list of what you will have to read, this is a pre-course list of books you might consider. You may not have time to read all of this - I know I didn't. If I were to put together a shorter list for someone with a BE specialism, it would be:

How To Teach Business English (Frendo)
Syllabus Design (Nunan)
Testing for Language Teachers (Hughes)

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