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May 02, 2011

DELTA recognized as being at same level as Master's degree*

Teaching-English-in-Japan-Education-DELTA" Ofqual, the exams regulator of the UK government, has confirmed that Cambridge ESOL's Delta qualification for teachers is at the same level as a Master's degree or a professional diploma in the European Union. This is a result of Delta being placed at level 7 of the UK government’s Qualification and Credit Framework (QCF), making it the only English language teaching diploma currently included at this level.

Welcoming this new recognition, Cambridge ESOL's Chief Executive Dr Mike Milanovic says: “Teachers holding this qualification demonstrate a very high level of expertise indeed and we're delighted by this acknowledgment from Ofqual. This reflects the quality standards associated with the Delta qualification which is great news for teachers and the millions of students around the world learning English.”

Delta is a qualification aimed at those wanting to teach non-native English speakers and can be taken at any stage of a teacher's career.

* Please note that this item was orignally titled "DELTA recognized as equal of Master's degree". It has been changed for purposes of clarity.

See Also:
What is DELTA?
Teachers Should Know How to Teach

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This article is, shall we say, somewhat misleading.

The headline asserts that the DELTA is "equal" to a master's degree. This is simply untrue. The DELTA has been confirmed by OFQUAL as a qualification that confers academic credits at level 7 of the qualifications and curriculum framework (QCF). However, it is not therefore an equivalent qualification - the article makes no reference to the number of academic credits conferred on a successful DELTA candidate. Cambridge ESOL themselves make no direct comparisons between the DELTA and a master's degree. Moreover, many universities will accept the DELTA as *prior learning* at an equivalent level. The University of Nottingham, for example, will exempt a DELTA holder from 2 core modules of their MA TESOL program, which accounts for 40 credits of a 180 credit course. They are clearly not equal programs!

The rest is clever marketing and weasel words from, I assume, Cambridge ESOL's marketing team - the only reason that the DELTA has been "confirmed" at level 7 is that Cambridge periodically have to re-validate the qualifications they offer with OFQUAL (previously the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority). As OFQUAL is new, and the QCF has been modified in the last two years, the level the DELTA sits on has been changed. The level descriptors have not. The only reason that the DELTA is currently the "only" ELT diploma qualification included in the level is that Trinity haven't had to re-validate the Diploma in TESOL qualification yet. It's still a level 7 qualification, but OFQUAL haven't "confirmed" it yet.

This is a press release that basically says "OFQUAL don't think Cambridge are lying about their qualification", although it's been spun in a rather unique way.

The original press release from Cambridge ESOL is here:

Our headline uses "equal" for "at the same level" and this should be read in the context of the article as a whole. I concede that the headline it is not as clear as it could be.

The key comparison however *is* from Cambridge ESOL: "Ofqual, the exams regulator of the UK government, has confirmed that Cambridge ESOL's Delta qualification for teachers is at the same level as a Master's degree..."

Equal but different? I remember years back when I was looking at the entry requirements for the DTEFLA (as it was then) that holding an MA in TESOL did NOT qualify you to take the DELTA unless you had had sufficient practical teaching experience / training.

So whilst a DELTA might be considered part of a MA in TEFL, an MA in TEFL might be considered to be a sufficient qualification to be accepted on a DELTA only if the MA in question has the appropriate practical components.

FWIW, every person I've met (all 5 of them, so no great scientific study here) who has done both the DELTA and an MA reckons the DELTA is the superior course.

Things might have changed of course.

I commented on the story as a good friend of mine misinterpreted it when he linked it to me in an email. When I read it, it struck me that the headline is confusing and likely to lead to misunderstanding, as it did with my friend, who will soon be undertaking the intensive DELTA in London.

I'm not sure an "equal but different" treatment is helpful; the DELTA and most MAs in TESOL are fundamentally different beasts - the word limits in the assignments are very short; understandable as the DELTA a practical qualification at heart. Conversely, MAs in TESOL and the like are very much more theoretical qualifications - practica are still something of a rarity on such courses - and the inclusion of a thesis would be better interpreted, in my opinion, as training in the tools of the professional academic.

Don't get me wrong; the DELTA is a great qualifcation, and the
holders of it I've met and worked with have been fine teachers. ELT needs more DELTA holders, particularly in countries like Japan where practical teaching qualifications are still something of a rarity. Conflating it with a master's degree - even unintentionally - is unlikely to lead to increased uptake or recognition of the qualification.

Anyone with a decent Masters in TEFL/TESOL can sit back, smirk and know this is pure propaganda.

Hi all

Why is it that when ever i log on to these discussion forums, i always hear the same argument i.e DELTA is better than masters or vice versa! Lets just say that a DELTA deals with the more practical aspects of language teaching and a masters is more academic.

Lets face it, is a study of chomsky's aspect of syntax theory going to help you deal with young learners in a classroom more than the practical lessons learnt on a DELTA course.

Cambridge DELTA and a Masters in TEFL or Applied Linguistics are both excellent qualifications to have, but have a different focus.

Most of the time if you have a DELTA. You will be excempt from the practical part of a Masters in TEFL or Applied Linguistics. Which is great i think. Do the DELTA, work for a bit, if you still want to remain in the EFL industry or maybe want to go on to teach in colleges/uni's in the u.k,europe/u.s.a wherever, then do the Masters and have 40 or 60 points excempt.

Win Win situation! and not dedicating too much money (expensive masters degrees) before you even know about the industry.. i mean really know the industry!

There is a difference. You can gain a masters and be a poor classroom teacher. You cannot gain a DELTA and be a poor classroom teacher. In Switzerland MA's are two a penny. I've had MA's come and do the CELTA and really struggle with basic classroom practice. So yes, MA's are valuable and give theory - but without observed assessed teaching practice they are no measure of a teacher.

I am looking at teaching English (EAP) at university level. I have a PGCE in Secondary Modern Foreign Languages as well as a degree in French and Linguistics. I am about to embark on a masters course in Applied Linguistics. Having completed a PGCE and taught for nearly 5 years, would this be the same as an ESOL qualification (CELTA for example)?

Thanks in advance for your comments.

What I am intersted in is : If sb wishes to work for schools as a classroom teacher in the UK and presents DELTA, will they get the position? Schools there ask for a degree when they refer to qualifications.What is DELTA exactly?

Does this also apply to the DTEFLA?

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