Is the British Council DELTA a Rip Off?

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Is the British Council DELTA a Rip Off?

Unread postby Peter Easton » 05 Jun 2008, 13:21

Fair question. The fees are £2200 and this is for an on-line course. Then I saw the book list which is surely nothing more than a very unsubtle attempt by Longman and MacMillan to squeeze even more money out of hapless teachers.

DELTA course pre-course reading

It will be particularly advantageous to you, especially if you are taking the intensive course, to do as much as reading before the course begins as possible.

Essential reading

Books you are recommended to buy, read cover-to-cover, and bring with you:

* Jeremy Harmer (2001) The Practice of English Language Teaching 3rd edition (Longman)
* Scott Thornbury (1997) About Language (CUP)

Recommended pre-course reading

The following are all "well worth" reading:

* Carter and Nunan (eds) (2001) The Cambridge Guide to Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CUP)
* Larsen Freeman (2000) Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching 2nd edition (OUP)
* Lightbown & Spada (2006) How Languages are Learned revised edition (OUP)

Further recommended pre-course reading

The following you might dip into before the course. You will also find that you will be referring to these for your assignments.

* Harmer (2004) How to Teach Writing (OUP)
* Hughes, Arthur (2002) Testing for Language Teachers 2nd edition (CUP)
* Lewis (1997) Implementing the Lexical Approach (LTP)
* Thornbury (2000) How to Teach Grammar (Longman)
* Thornbury (2002) How to Teach Vocabulary (Longman)
* Thornbury (2005) How to Teach Speaking (Longman)
* Thornbury (2005) Beyond the Sentence - Introducing Discourse Analysis (Macmillan Heinemann)
* Willis (1996) A Framework for Task-Based Learning (Longman)
* White, Goodith (1998) Listening (OUP)


The British Council are trying to sell this as a must have for any serious ELT professional but would not having one really preclude you from getting any job in the world?

Personally I think it's a lot of dough to be shelling out when you consider the opportunity cost of it all.
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Re: Is the British Council DELTA a Rip Off?

Unread postby Susan » 06 Jun 2008, 20:30

I think the DELTA is an excellent course. It is certainly a course that a serious teacher of EFL should consider doing. Note I said consider doing, there are other good courses too.

As for the price, I did my diploma in 1994 and at the time it cost over £1200 for a distance learning course.

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The Emperor's New Clothes

Unread postby Peter Easton » 07 Jun 2008, 19:01

I agree it's probably a good course. I guess I'm just cynical in my attitude towards the motives of big publishing houses...

It would be interesting to see how much the BC make from offering the DELTA because they are supposed to be a non profit body. I'll bet it's a real cash cow for them...
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Re: Is the British Council DELTA a Rip Off?

Unread postby Susan » 08 Jun 2008, 12:09

Yes, I suppose big businesses do sometimes give us reason to be cynical!!

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Re: Is the British Council DELTA a Rip Off?

Unread postby systematic » 15 Jul 2008, 12:29

ian_g wrote:HI Peter,

Bear in mind that "non-profit" does not mean an organisation cannot make a killing. Those "non-profits" are technically distributed wages, bonuses and advertising.

- and luxury accommodation, SUVs, and generous expense accounts for their expat staff :mrgreen:
I offer any information or advice 'as is' and hope that it has been of help. I am not an admin of this board, and my postings do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the board management.
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Re: Is the British Council DELTA a Rip Off?

Unread postby Alex Case » 01 Oct 2008, 14:52

I'd say it's better value than an MA for how much it improves your teaching, but if you get the same increase in salary per pound invested in the qualification as an MA depends on your career plans, e.g. language school or uni, Middle East or Europe? For the few who think DELTA tutors are living a life of luxury, that is actually a reason to get one then as you need the DELTA to become a DELTA tutor yourself!
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Re: Is the British Council DELTA a Rip Off?

Unread postby Alex Case » 01 Oct 2008, 14:53

PS- It's the Cambridge ESOL DELTA, sometimes given by the British Council but not varying much from other DELTA providers in either price or quality of instruction
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Re: Is the British Council DELTA a Rip Off?

Unread postby martinmcmorrow » 02 Oct 2008, 13:31

Hi,

I'm a DELTA tutor and assessor based here in New Zealand. I was previously involved in setting up a part-time DELTA course in London and more recently worked as a tutor on the Distance DELTA (co-ordinated by International House, London). Next year, I'm going to a tutor on a new DELTA course in Christchurch, NZ. Anyway, just a few comments on this thread:

1) As Alex said, the DELTA is administered by Cambridge ESOl, not by the British Council. The British Council just recognises it as the standard teaching qualification they tend to look for in teachers at their teaching centres. And some of these teaching centres also offer the course - but so do many other language schools and FE colleges. Here, in New Zealand, it's offered by two language schools, while the distance DELTA orientation course is held at the language teaching centre of one of the universities.

2) The courses are very far from being cash cows for anyone involved. In recent years, something like 600 - 700 candidates worldwide have been taking the DELTA each year (approx figures). This doesn't produce a huge fee income for either the centres running the programmes or for Cambridge. From their fee income, Cambridge has to pay assessors and their travel fees for each candidate and has to prepare resources and pay for assessors' time for standardisation meetings. They need to pay for development of the syllabus and associated admin costs. Recently, they'd paid for a complete overhaul of the syllabus, involving a fair amount of research and consultation. They need to pay a team of four joint chief assessors to develop the twice-yearly written exams, have standardisation meetings and mark / double mark the exams. The extended assignment also has to be directly marked. The portfolios need to be assessed and the assessors' reports read and then a meeting held to agree final grades bearing all of the above in consideration. Then there's the appeals procedures etc etc. And all of the staff involved are highly qualified and experienced - so can't be paid absolute peanuts (though cashews will probably do).

Look, without going into too much detail, the centres which run programmes also have pretty substantial staffing costs. After all, the average DELTA trainer has more than 20 years experience and nearly all of them have been school principals, heads of teacher training etc. Fortunately, in all of the courses I've been involved in, the staff have worked for pay levels significantly lower than they could have got even for teaching English language classes. The last freelance work for DELTA that I did (several years ago in London) I was paid at the rate of 25 pounds an hour, at a time I was getting 35 per hour for general ESOL teaching (moonlighting at a local FE college). People work as DELTA tutors because they believe in the qualification, they enjoy working with dedicated professionals and because the involvement is interesting in itself and obviously enhances their own experience. It's really not about monetary reward. Even in the stingy field of TEFL, where cash cows seldom chew the cud, there are meatier options available than DELTA work.

On a personal note, to put the DELTA costs into perspective, I'm now taking a distance doctorate course part-time from Macquarie Uni in Sydney. The total course fees will be more than NZ$50, 000 - and let's not even consider opportunity costs. So if you were thinking DELTA is a bit pricey .....

3) Anyway, DELTA is being modularised from the beginning of next year. There'll be three modules - essentially language, teaching and special topic (eg younger learners / literacy). There'll be a greater diversity in delivery. Some centres will run combined courses, others individual modules. You'll get a grade for each module individually. So, if you're interested, have a look at the Cambridge DELTA website. I think that the change ought to make the course more do-able, and I think will accelerate its integration into other professional development courses - for instance, more MA courses, I think, are likely to incorporate DELTA modules into the credit-schemes - quite a few in the UK offer (typically 1/3 credits of an MA programme for DELTA holders) and I think this is likely to spread.

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the course I'll be involved with - details for 2009 need updating!
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