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I find myself in a position where, after almost four years of teaching full-time, I would like to investigate teaching and education a little bit more. The amount I’ve learnt from people like yourselves, dear readers, through being on Twitter and blogging has had a profound impact on my teaching and the way I see myself in this particular sphere. However, there is only so much, I think, that can be achieved through these means alone, a need to go a little deeper than simply reflecting on and sharing information. Which lead me to put this message up on Twitter one afternoon:

DELTA or MA, MA or DELTA, or DELTA then MA?? I’m at a personal crux


Not that kind of DELTA

I didn’t really expect too much of a response, but whoa, post a question on Twitter, and (sometimes) you can find gold. In keeping with the last time I sourced social media for ideas and inspiration, I am posting the information and advice that I got from people on Twitter. This is also as much for the collective knowledge as it is a record for myself.

These were the tweets I got back first:

@maureenmcgarvey: @harrisonmike Lots of better advice here than mine, I’m sure, but I’d say DELTA, then MA. Distance DELTA is modular now…

@Shaunwilden: @harrisonmike Depends on why you need it, what you want to get out of it – MA can be done in a wider range of subjects…

@Shaunwilden: @harrisonmike But i’d go delta then MA

@yearinthelifeof: @harrisonmike DELTA

@lauraahaha: @harrisonmike I’d say Delta then MA. Some of the same ground is often covered& sometimes you can skip 1-2 MA modules thanks to having Delta!

@samshep: @harrisonmike you can APL DELTA on several MAs. [note – APL = Accredited Prior Learning]

@MahmoodHosni: @harrisonmike I’d prefer an MA over a DELTA.. Unless you can afford them both!!

Ok, so let’s think about this so far. There are evidently advantages and (relative) disadvantages to doing either a DELTA or an MA, which explains why I was asked if there was a need for me doing either, and people were expressing preferences for both choices of course.

What are the differences (as I see them) between the DELTA and an MA? Let’s take them one by one. First of all, doing an MA, the advantages of which I see as:

  • a wider variety of what you can do as an MA – TESOL, ELT, Education, Educational Technology…
  • an opportunity to go deeper into the subject area (whatever that may be) in research and reflection, and possibly putting into practice

Relative disadvantages as I see them:

  • a bigger investment in terms of time and money (I am probably looking at part-time or distance study)
  • a bigger investment in the actual subject of the MA, with such a wide variety to choose from, and the breadth that they can have, I might start an MA and find I don’t actually like it…

Now, DELTA advantages:

  • more practical to my immediate context as it is a diploma in English Language Teaching
  • relatively cheaper and shorter than an MA

DELTA disadvantages:

  • I’ve heard from some people about the detail lessons have to be planned in for DELTA observations…
  • due to its shorter length, might it pass me by without really sinking in (of course, this is wholly down to me, and I would endeavour to make the most of it)

OK, procrastination. On to some practical tips now about doing the DELTA (this is where I directed my tweet-discussion, as I didn’t know so much about the DELTA):

@harrisonmike: @maureenmcgarvey The Distance DELTA is out of IH London isn’t it?

@maureenmcgarvey: Yes, and no! Have a look at and DM me if any ?s – I work in the same office as the DD team!

@japglish: @harrisonmike DELTA and MA, same time

@AnthonyGaughan: @harrisonmike > Bell has a distance programme too. []

@ed_russell: @harrisonmike I did DELTA then MA. It is more expensive to do both. DELTA good 4 practice and lang schools. MA more for uni work. good luck.

@maureenmcgarvey: @harrisonmike @ed_russell You can also do Modules 1 & 3 Distance DELTA and Module 2 F2F in IH London, as far as I know

From chatting with @dalecoulter, I also found out about the DELTA that is run by University College London –

I’m sure there are a lot more out there, and am planning to spend at least some time this Bank Holiday Monday composing emails to find out a bit more about the different programmes on offer.

Wish me luck!

Thanks very much to all the tweeters mentioned above for your kind advice and sharing of information =)

Image credit: Copper River Delta by Sam Beebe/Ecotrust on Flickr