Doing Delta Module One? Some Exam Tips - Part Seven

And finally we reach the end of our short series on the Delta Module One exam. In this article we're looking at the last task in the exam: Paper Two Task Three. 

When you've read it, you can test your knowledge of the requirements of the whole of Paper Two by taking this quiz

Missed some of the other articles in this series? You'll find links to all of them here - just scroll down the page. But if you're preparing for the Delta Module One, don't forget that you'll find a lot more information about all the tasks in the exam, with sample questions and answers, plus advice for tackling the questions in the Handbook for Tutors and Candidates and the exam reports published by Cambridge English. Click on the link to download them.

And don't forget either that extracts from our Module One course are posted every Tuesday on our companion blog The Delta Course. Check it out weekly. You'll find input and activities to help you with all the activities in the exam.

Paper Two Task Three is "the methodology question". In some ways it's one of the hardest to prepare for, as it's the only question which doesn't have a completely standard format. 

Some things will always remain the same, however. Firstly, you will be given some data to analyse which describes an approach or a technique in methodology. The type of data you are given will be something like the following :
  • an extract from a textbook or article on methodology
  • the procedural notes from one or more lesson plans
  • notes taken during a methodology seminar
  • a trainer's feedback notes for a teacher after an observed lesson
  • a transcript of teachers discussing what happened in a lesson

and so on.

You'll then have two or three questions to answer. The type of questions you are asked about the data will be something like the following :
a) explain the beliefs about language learning which lie behind the views stated in the materials
b) identify the roles taken by the teachers at various stages in the procedures described
c) evaluate the suitability of the approaches, procedures etc for different types of learner and learning context
d) identify the purposes, advantages and disadvantages of various techniques and procedures

In answering a question in this area, you will need to draw on your knowledge of theories of language (structuralism, the functional/notional approach, the lexical approach etc), of psycholinguistic theories of how language is assimilated (eg behaviourism, cognitive code theory, learning vs acquisition, input based acquisition theories, "noticing", output based theories), and of educational psychology (eg constructivist views of learning), showing how all these result in specific methodological approaches and techniques. So eg if the data shows Teacher A asking her students to work collaboratively on a guided discovery activity, while she monitors, intervening only to ask guiding questions which "push the learners on", and the question asks you to identify the belief that lies behind this and the role which she takes , your answer may be something like :

Teacher A may believe that ...
  • Acquisition and learning are not two distinct processes (as Krashen would argue) but that conscious focus on form and meaning ("noticing") can aid the acquisition process. 
  • The depth of cognitive processing involved in working out the rules for themselves is more likely to result in  "noticing" and retention than if the teacher simply "informs" the learners. 
  • They are "constructing" their own knowledge  (Vygotsky) as they work actively on the new information and incorporate it with previous knowledge. They will formulate the rules in a way that "makes sense" to them, which will aid retention.
  • Learners should be helped to be as autonomous as possible. This approach will promote learner autonomy as the learners will be equipped to work on the language for themselves outside the classroom.
  • The fact of having "made sense" of the language for themselves will aid motivation - it will add to their self-esteem and sense of achievement (Maslow)
Teacher role : facilitator of learning

When you are asked to consider the suitability of the approach/techniques for different learner types and learning contexts, it's useful to have a checklist in mind that you can quickly run through mentally. Not all of the categories will be applicable to every question, but the list will help you organise your ideas. Some of the categories you might take into consideration are L1 groups and mono- vs multi-lingual classes; cultural/educational background; age groups; learning style categories and multiple intelligences; intensive vs non-intensive courses; EAP, Business English and other special purpose groups; learners with special needs; mixed ability groups; personality types (eg extrovert /introvert); class size. 

So,  one of the learner types you might identify the guided discovery approach as being suitable for would be analytical learners (or depending on whose categories you work with, you might also mention Gardner's Logical-mathematical intelligence), who enjoy problem solving and critical thinking. On the other hand, you might point out that it would not be suitable for very young learners, who have not yet developed the cognitive skills necessary for the activity and who, still being in the "critical period" for language acquisition (Lenneberg) can still acquire language through unanalysed input. 

When you're answering this task, don't try to write a connected essay. Answer in bullet points (as in the example above) and keep the points short. There are forty marks available and so, working on our usual "one mark per minute" principle, you should aim to complete it in 30-40 minutes. You'll be awarded two points for each valid point you make up to a maximum of 30 marks, so aim to make 15 points. The remaining ten points are awarded for overall depth of response - so give details, and  refer to research and theorists to back up what you say.