logo ELT Concourse teacher training for Delta

Delta Module One Course


Syllabus area 3
Language systems and learners’ linguistic problems

syllabus area 3

This section of the syllabus covers these areas and you should be able to:

  • Analyse the relationship between language and society
  • Analyse the relationship between genres and context
  • Identify and analyse lexical, grammatical, functional, phonological and discoursal features of language in use
  • Identify linguistic problems experienced by learners with regard to specific lexical, grammatical, functional, phonological and discoursal features
  • Relate methodological choices in language systems teaching to learners’ characteristics and context

To be able to do this you need a knowledge of these areas.  The following has links to many of the guides on this site which cover the areas.  You should follow those and then return to this page to try some tests of your knowledge.


An overview of what you need to know

This is the largest area of the syllabus for Module One because it covers all areas of language and includes the consideration of the problems that can be encountered teaching and learning the systems.

Language can be analysed from a variety of standpoints and those who teach it need to be able to use all of them.  Very briefly:

  1. We can analyse language from the point of view of sociolinguistics in which the focus is on how language functions in society to maintain social cohesion, support power, increase or decrease social distance, be a distinguishing mark of individual identity or a mark of inclusion in a wider cultural identity and so on.
    In the Module One examination, this area is focused on by asking you to identify genre, assess the effectiveness of written work in terms of its effect on the reader and analyse the communicative purpose of materials.
  2. We can analyse a language from the standpoint of what distinguishes it from other languages and where it sits in relation to them.  Is it, for example, closely related to other languages or fundamentally different?  We can use these data to help us anticipate and deal with difficulties as well as understand how a learner's language background may assist or hinder the process of learning English.  This approach will also include, especially in the case of English, the use of the language as an international, culturally independent lingua franca.
    In the examination, this area encompasses issues to do with learner errors and their sources.
  3. We can analyse language as a matrix of interlocking systems: grammar, lexis, phonology, appropriacy etc.  This allows us not only to decide what to teach but, to a large extent, how to present language and language use in a way that is consistent and logical.
    In the examination, this area is covered by asking you to analyse a text written by a learner and look for strengths and weaknesses and also in the question in which you are asked to analyse a piece of well-written authentic material.

This and the guides linked from this page are intended to help with all three.


Six important areas

There are six areas with which you should be familiar and it is impossible to judge which will be the most important in the examination paper you will get.
In most cases, a knowledge of all six areas will be important and you should look out for examples in the examination materials of each of them.

The following is very brief.  Read on for more help and advice.

refers to elements of the language longer than a single sentence or utterance.
A dialogue in which people are responding to each other's utterances is an example of conversational discourse.
A text in which internal and external references are made to what precedes and what follows is also an example of discourse.
In this area, the most important things you need to recognise and analyse are:
  • cohesion and coherence in spoken and written text (how longer stretches of language are internally linked and comprehensible including the issue of the use of pro-forms)
  • deixis (how we refer to events and people which are not here, not now and not the speaker)
  • conjunction (how ideas are joined, whether coordinated or subordinated, and how we signal the relationships between clauses and sentences)
  • theme and rheme structures (how texts are ordered and how coherence is maintained by the staging of information)
  • reported speech
refers to the words in a language and is preferred over a more simple term such as 'vocabulary' because its application is wider than simply the words people use.
In this area, the most important things you need to recognise and analyse are:
  • word classes (all nine)
  • lexical relationships (including issues of synonymy, antonymy, hyponymy, polysemy and so on)
  • word formation (including conversion and compounding)
  • collocation and colligation
refers to the rules, principles and processes that lie behind the formation of correctly formed sentences and clauses.
In this area, the most important things you need to recognise and analyse are:
  • the elements of sentences (phrases and clauses)
  • constituents of clauses
  • negatives
  • interrogatives
  • adverbials (adjuncts, disjuncts and conjuncts)
  • phrase modification
  • word order
  • coordination and subordination
Verbs and tenses
refers to a subset of syntax but, on this site and in most grammar references, takes a section to itself because the verb and the verb phrase are of fundamental importance.
In this area, the most important things you need to recognise and analyse are:
  • tenses
  • aspects
  • clause structures
  • case
  • multi-word verbs
  • passive and causative structures
  • verbal processes
is not just concerned with modal auxiliary verbs.  It is the systems in a language which allow speakers to express their intentions, abilities and willingness and beliefs about whether something is real, hypothetical, desirable, true, possible or obligatory.
In this area, the most important things you need to recognise and analyse are:
  • the four main types of modality
    • epistemic
    • dynamic
    • deontic
    • alethic
  • modal auxiliary verbs: pure / central, semi- and marginal
  • other modal expressions: modal adjectives, adverbs and nouns, mostly
  • mood and the subjunctive
not phonetics: you are only expected to be able to recognise and analyse the sounds of English.
In this area, the most important areas are:
  • vowels
  • consonants
  • connected speech phenomena
  • transcription of sounds
    The Delta syllabus does not explicitly require transcription skills but it is almost impossible to refer sensibly to pronunciation skills and teaching without some ability to transcribe important phenomena.

That's rather a lot and the list is by no means complete.
How, then, do you decide what you need to study and what you can safely assume you already know enough about?
Help is at hand.


Barrier tests

This is a very large area with many guides to various aspects of language systems.  In particular, the areas on discourse, lexis, syntax, modality and verbs and tenses contain multiple guides.
To help, what follows has links to barrier / diagnostic tests in each of five main areas.  If you score very well in any test, it means that this area is not a priority for you.  On the other hand, ...
The test items will, if you get the answer wrong, link you directly to the guide or guides you should be using to learn how the systems work.  All those links open in new tabs so you can follow the guide and then return to the test by simply closing the guide.
The tests themselves do not open in new windows or tabs so use the  button to return to this page.  At any time, refreshing the page will remove all your answers and allow you to try again.
The index pages open in a new tab so you just need to shut what you find from there to return to it.
Once you have accessed the guides to which you are directed, come back to this page and try the tests again.

Additionally, you can take a 25-item general test of your grammar for Delta, the first link, which will direct you to the guides you need in each area where you make a mistake.  That page opens in an new tab so simply shut it to return.


A quick course

This is an area which many people who have only the knowledge of grammar imparted to them on an initial training course, worry about.
If you have the time, on this site you will find a 10-unit course covering:

The course will provide you with the foundation you need to handle the demands of the examination.
Click here to open the index page of that course in a new tab.
That is particular important if you do not do well in any of the barrier tests.

Diagnostic / barrier tests

The Delta 25-item grammar barrier test
Discourse test the index of discourse guides
Lexis test the index of lexis guides
Syntax test the index of syntax: phrases, and clauses and sentences guides
Verbs and tenses test the index of verbs, tenses and aspects guides
Modality test the modality index
Missing from the list above is mention of phonology.  This is because a barrier test is of less use: you either can or can't transcribe the sounds of English accurately.
The link below is to the course in transcribing the sounds of English and that contains a variety of tests of your skills in this area.
If you need a course in phonemic transcription click here: A course in phonemic transcription

Other areas of this part of the syllabus to which there are guides on this site include the following.
All the links open in a new tab.

Genre a guide to how language varies depending on its purpose in the speech community
Types of languages a guide to how languages differ in important aspects
Variety a guide which considers varieties of English, their sources and the role of English as an international language
Syntax a guide to what it is and why we need to know about it
Verb types and clause structures a guide to how clauses vary and are constructed in English
Language transfer a guide to how the learners' first language(s) may hinder or help the acquisition of another language
Word order a guide to a critical area of differences between English and many other languages
Error to help with the examination question which focuses on learner production

where next

Where next?

When you have taken the tests and worked through the recommended guide or guides, it's time to test your knowledge in these areas and then do some revision exercises.
If you have followed the guides in the systems analysis sections, you'll have done lots of tests along the way so there are only five to do at this time.
The tests for this section focus on the slightly bigger picture and include only:
    Learning styles
    Style and Register
    Language variety, style and register
    Culture and learning style

Here are the choices:

The 5 tests to check what you can remember.  Do these first.
Revision course index there is a section of the Delta Module One Revision Course for this area of the syllabus
Examination practice apply the knowledge you have gained to practising for the examination (new tab)

index small exam practice
course index exam practice