DELTA a waste of time, blossoming students, and living well as a TEFL teacher

Here’s part 2 of last week’s blog.

DELTA23

How many of your students make it into a flower? Photo by l’Ours5)      Only one or two students really blossom

5) Only 1 or 2 students really blossom

Why is that? How is it possible that you teach the 3rdconditional, or some tricky ‘turn’ phrasal verbs, but only one or two students will actually remember, and be able to produce it, in the next class? I guess I’ve known this for a while, but it’s only really this year that I’ve taken on board the fact that no matter how hard we try to improve our students English, only a couple will really absorb the language we throw at them.


What I noticed this year is that it’s always the ones who are avid note takers. You know, the ones who are always asking what everything means, who copy everything you write on the board, who are the ones who use those turn phrasal verbs in their next writing assignment. 
 
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone was avid note takers, not just for the sake of copying, but because they actually want to learn the word, or maybe be an English teacher one day, go and live in an English speaking country and be able to sing at karaoke without everyone taking the piss out of their accent.

6)      Doing a DELTA was a waste of time
 
There, I’ve said it. After all those blogs I wrote about DELTA, saying how marvellous and life changing it was blah blah blah, now I’ve gone and done a 360 and decided it was all a load of tosh. Why oh why did I give up a year of my life, my writing, my hair, and torment myself with the pressure of doing a DELTA?
 
Okay, I’m exaggerating slightly. Of course it wasn’t a waste of time and I’m a much better teacher, at least in the eyes of Cambridge, but there was a load of crap on that course, wasn’t there?
 
I mean, really, what was the point in memorising so much terminology for that exam? I spent a good thirty minutes a day memorising words like catenation, onset, and morphology. Who in their right mind would ever use these words while teaching? It’s insane.
 
It’s funny but one of the main areas I had to improve on my DELTA was drilling. I still drill in class, don’t get me wrong, but not to the extent it was necessary to get a decent mark in Module 2. That brings me on to all the time we needed to prepare one hour of teaching. The reading, preparing, practising that we had to do was so unrealistic to the real world that it all seems a bit silly. I mean who has a spare 10 hours a week to plan for one class? And don’t even get me started on Module 3. Planning a course for a bunch of imaginary students I’ll never teach…please.
 
Saying that, if you want a career in TEFL and do want to improve the way your teach, then the DELTA is worth it, just be prepared for jumping through the Cambridge hoops to get there.

7)      Teaching phonetics is useless unless you go over it often
 
I made the same mistake again this year. I’ve done it two years running now. At the start of term I get all excited about phonetics and firmly believe that it’s a great tool for improving student’s pronunciation. Or at least showing them visually where they are going wrong. I spent about two weeks with several of my classes going over the chart in detail, doing activities, and drilling. For a few weeks I used phonetics actively in class, did a few songs, and there seemed to be progress. However, as always, exams and syllabus got in the way and pronunciation got pushed to one side in January. Stupidly I never got back into it again this year. The other week I did a few games to try to remind students of the sounds, but it was useless, half of them had forgotten.
 

So there’s your lesson. Don’t even bother with phonetics unless you are going to do it regularly. I hope I remember next term.


8)   You can live comfortably and support a family as a TEFL teacher in Spain, or at least in Sevilla.

 
After all those years of worrying whether I’d be able to survive while having kids as a TEFL teacher I can now safely say that I can. It’s hard work, and I have to do extra business classes early in the morning, which means long days, falling asleep on the metro in the afternoon, and getting home knackered a couple of nights a week, but it’s all worth it. Luckily I am a B1 and B2 oral examiner too, which definitely helps get that extra cash over the year to pay for the extras.
 
We still live quite simply at the moment, we rarely go out in the evenings or travel much, but that’s mainly because we two little monsters to look after, but we get by and enjoy life. Hopefully when my wife goes back to work we’ll be able to afford a few luxuries too, maybe get a car and have a couple of decent holidays a year.
 
So if you’re wondering about whether you can afford to teach English and have children, then the answer is yes, you can, but you have to work your arse off.

 

So what have you learnt this year? Enlighten me.

One thought on “DELTA a waste of time, blossoming students, and living well as a TEFL teacher

  1. Hey Barry,
    I've been reading your blog and I think the content you post is brilliant.
    I'm a language enthusiast myself and along with some friends we've started a language app – VocApp. It is a flashcard mobile and website app that provides a number of innovative features, such as creating flashcards from a photo, creating flashcards with your voice, creating flashcards from a text (in just a few seconds you can make a set of words from your favourite song, e.g. http://vocapp.com/wish-you-were-here-pink-floyd-testo-tradotto-flashcards-186864).
    I imagine that you must be very busy but if you were interested in testing our app (and possibly writing a short review of it if you want) I could grant you access to our language courses and paid options of our app, so that you can explore it thoroughly.
    Keep up the great work! I'll be looking forward to hearing from you.
    All the best,
    Camille
    camille@vocapp.com

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