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Concourse 2

Module Three: the structure


The mechanics

This is repeated from the guide to writing a Delta Background Essay because it has obvious relevance here.  Skip this bit if you have followed that guide.


You will need to make sure that the in-text referencing and the bibliography follow a standard convention.
For details, go to a website for advice.  There’s a good guide to the Harvard referencing system produced for Anglia Ruskin University that you can access by clicking here.
Briefly, however:

For in-text references

Books and articles
At every point in the text where there is a particular reference, include the author’s surname and the year of publication with page numbers if you are quoting specific words – for example,
In his survey of the social habits of Delta tutors, Bloggs (1998) refuted that ...
In his survey of the social habits of Delta tutors, Bloggs (1998: 19) states that, "I can assert without fear of successful contradiction that …"
Make sure that it is 100% clear where your writing stops and a quotation begins, either by using inverted commas or indenting the citation etc.
Website references
You may not know the author’s name or date (but give them as above if you do) so this is acceptable:
It has been suggested (Wikipedia (2013)) that …
For the bibliography
For ease of access, you may like to divide your bibliography into Books and Articles, Teaching Materials and Electronic resources.
List references in alphabetical order by the surname of the first author.  If the author is unknown you should use “Anon”
For up to three authors include all names; if there are more than three, give the first author’s surname and initials followed by et al.
Provide, in this order and format: Author surname/s and initial/s + ed. or eds. (if editor/s), Year of publication, Title in italics, Edition (if not the first edition) as ordinal number + ed., Place of publication: Publisher
For example:
Jones, D., ed., 1995, My Teaching and Other Fiascos, 5th ed., London: Concourse publications
Include also: full journal title, volume number (issue number) and page numbers, for example,
Bloggs, T., 1997, Developing fluency through ferret keeping, English Language Teaching Journal, 41, 3 pp. 18-83
Electronic resources
E-journals – include full URL and date of access, for example:
Bloggs T.A., Brown G.C., 2012, Spoken English in Weston super Mare, in The Wandering Linguist [online], p. 105. Available from: http://www.wanderling.com/1111 [Accessed 23/08/2004]
Supply author/s or corporate body, date of publication / last update or copyright date, available from: URL [Accessed date], for example:
eltconcourse.com, How to write a Delta Background Essay, available from: http://www.eltconcourse.com/this page [accessed 02/11/2014]

Bloggs, T., (no date), Ideas for a Creating a Happy Classroom, available from http://eltconcourse.com/training/happiness.pdf [Accessed 03/07/2014]

The word count

The word limits are absolute: the assignment must be between 4000 and 4500 words long.  If your assignment is over the word count by up to 100 words, it will be marked but you will be penalised.
If the assignment is over 4600 words, it will be returned to you unmarked.

Avoiding accusations of plagiarism

  1. You are expected to do wide reading and research on the Delta course so never be afraid to show that you have accessed a range of other people’s work – nobody is expecting you to originate all the ideas and information in your work.
  2. Read your essays and check whether everything that is not in your own words or from your own resources has been acknowledged.
  3. Make sure that you include in your bibliography anything you refer to in the text and exclude any reading to which you do not make explicit reference.  This includes materials that you put in appendices and use in lessons and plans, by the way.
  4. Don’t be tempted to think that if you have changed a few words from a source you have read that you don’t need to acknowledge it – you do.
  5. If in any doubt – reference it.

Latin abbreviations

Using the following is conventional but unimpressive if used wrongly.

means that is, being the English translation of the Latin id est.  It should not be confused with e.g.
means for example, and is the translation of the Latin exempli gratia.
means compare with or consult, being short for conferre.  In Latin it was an invitation to the reader to consult an alternative source to compare with what is being said.  In English, it usually simply means compare.
et al.
means and others and comes from the Latin et alia oret alii.  Use it when there are more than three authors.
is the usual abbreviation for videlicet which means namely or that is to say.  It should not be confused with i.e.
stands for quod vide, which means which see and refers to a term that should be looked up elsewhere in a document.  It is often used for cross referencing.
stands for ibidem, in the same place and is used in citations to refer to the immediately preceding citation.
op. cit.
stands for opere citato, in the work cited.  It is used to refer to any previously cited work, not just the last one.
means something like With all due respect to and is used by authors to show respect for the holder of a view with which they disagree (often disrespectfully).
means very approximately throughout or frequently and refers to an idea or concept that occurs in many places in a cited work so a particular page reference is inappropriate.


Writing the essay


This is an academic essay so you need to maintain a certain formality.

  • Avoid non-standard abbreviations, contractions and so on.
  • Do not use slang or overly colloquial language.
  • Use the first person only when you are referring directly to your own experience.  If you want to state your opinion, hedge it with something like, It can, however be argued from my experience that ...
  • Use subheadings which actually relate to the following text.
  • Use bullet points sparingly and not as a substitute for connected prose.  Lists and tables are helpful but you must discuss their content.


Staging the information

The finished article for Module Three is an Information report.  As such, it has (or should have) certain conventional features which will occur repeatedly.  The essay is long at 4500 words so each section will follow a conventional structure embedded in the whole.
In other words, the overall structure is an information report and the sections within it are sub-reports following the same staging and structure.  That is what the reader expects.

Information report structure

The report will have three sections and so will each mini-report embedded within it.  These sections are

A general statement identifying the topic (either overall or of each sub-section)
For the report as a whole, this will probably be quite a long section which introduces the topic, makes it clear to the reader what the focus is and how it will be addressed.
For each sub-section of the report, you will also need this stage to make it clear to the reader what will follow.  For example
Given the nature of the learners and their rather precise aims, it was necessary to construct a pre-test which would identify the learners' current abilities in the four areas of competence the course is designed to address.
Needs analysis
For this group needs analysis was conducted in two ways: a) through a meeting with the group's sponsor and a representative of the group and b) via a questionnaire completed independently by each group member.

Both these sentences identify the focus of the sub-section and give the reader some inkling of what is to follow, i.e. a description and discussion of the testing formats, items and procedures with comment on each or the same for the needs analysis.
Here you insert the body of what you are writing about, describing and evaluating as you go along.
Here you identify the most salient parts of the report and comment overall on achievement (or otherwise).

Discussion structure

Within each section, you will probably need to insert some discussion of procedures, plans, tests, needs analyses and so on.  These sections (or sub-sub-sections) take a slightly different form:

A general statement identifying the issue
For example,
Relying on only a two-fold needs analysis procedure was the only practical way forward, given the time constraints.
That identifies the focus of the sub-section and gives the reader some inkling of what is to follow, i.e. a discussion of the merits and demerits of the procedure.
Arguments for
Here you set out the merits and the success of the procedure.  There should be a number of points made here.
Arguments against
Here you set out the drawbacks.
Here you reach a balanced and fair conclusion regarding the efficacy of what you did.

An alternative but equally valid structure is to mix arguments for and against in a series rather than confining them to lists of one or the other so the format goes: For > Against > For > Against > For > Against > etc. rather than For > For > For followed by Against > Against > Against etc.

On mixing things up

A sure-fire way to confuse your reader and lose coherence is to mix in to discussions things which belong in the information reports and vice versa.
For example, if you are discussing the efficacy of the tests you administered, that is the place to comment on how successful they were in terms of validity etc.  It is not the place to describe the tests.  On the other hand, if you are describing the reasons behind the selection of needs analysis formats, this is not the place to discuss their (dis)advantages.  That belongs in the discussion which follows or precedes the description.



More detail is available from the Cambridge website but that only contains a detailed look at the Management option rather than the other topics (it's available at http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/teaching-english/teaching-qualifications/delta/how-to-prepare-for-delta/).

The handbook for all Delta Modules is available from http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/images/181161-delta-handbook-for-tutors-and-candidates-document.pdf

Your report is marked as follows:

  1. Grasp of topic – maximum 35 marks (25%)
  2. Needs analysis and commentary (this includes the testing done before the event) – maximum 28 marks (20%)
    There is a guide to testing assessment and evaluation and a guide to constructing a needs analysis on this site.
  3. Course proposal – maximum 35 marks (25%)
  4. Assessment – maximum 28 marks (20%)
  5. Presentation and organisation (clearly this includes the coherent structure described above) – maximum 14 marks (10%)

It looks like this:

m3 marking

You can see that the marks are spread pretty evenly so you have to give each section equal attention and probably equal space.

Module Three is marked externally out of a maximum possible mark of 140.  The marks you need to get are, approximately:
Pass: 80 | Pass with Merit: 100 | Pass with Distinction: 120


Here's a summary of the report structure.  You may like to print it out and keep it to hand while you write.
Module Three structure summary