Delta Module 1 with Distinction? Done!

The DELTA Module 1 results were out last week, and BrELT was extremely proud to see some very dear members among the ones to celebrate their success on what is possibly the most difficult methodology exam for English language teachers. One of those members was Sérgio O. Pantoja Jr, who not only passed, but also got a distinction, which is the highest mark you can get. Not too shabby, huh? He’s also been kind enough to let us know how he prepared for Module 1.


Sérgio’s a sweet BrELTer who has been in the ELT field since 2002, having worked for several language schools in Brazil as an English teacher. He has mostly worked with young adults and adults in the areas of general English, business English and exams preparation. Sérgio holds, among others, the CPE, a degree in Languages, a postgraduate degree in English Language Teaching and Translation and a TESOL Certificate from the University of Oregon, USA. He is now working on his Delta Module 2 and we’re sure he’s going to waltz through it. 

Congratulations again, Sergio! Now over to you:

Passing Delta Module 1 with Distinction: I did it and so can you!

This is my first post for BrELT and I can barely put into words how delighted I am to have been invited by Natália Guerreiro to share some of my experience with Delta Module 1 and how I got a Distinction in it. The reason why I felt truly honored is because I have the utmost respect for her and the other moderators who invest a lot time and effort to help us all become better teachers. By sharing my experience here, I do hope to incentivize other teachers to consider taking the Delta in the foreseeable future.


After a long two-month wait – undoubtedly, the longest two months of my life – I finally got my results last Friday and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that I’d passed Delta Module 1 with distinction. Between you and me, I was so astonished as soon as I laid my eyes on the statement of results that I felt compelled to refresh the page just to make sure that it was really accurate and that my mind wasn’t playing any tricks on me. I know that it might sound like I’m embellishing the facts here, but it did take me some time to believe it. In all honesty, the word Delta used to conjure up fear and dread every time I stumbled upon it. That’s why it took me so long to make up my mind and go for it. Just for the record, I started my Module 1 prep course last September, but had been toying with the idea of studying for it since 2014.

Before embarking on my Delta journey, I spent a couple of months reading every blog post, article, tips or anything Delta related that I could get hold of. The most useful blogs that I found, which helped me summon up the courage and take the bull by the horns, were  Sandy Millin’s , Ricardo Barros’s and Sue Swift’s. In additon to these incredible blogs, I also strongly recommend the book “How to Pass Delta” by Damian Williams, which addresses every single aspect of the exam and provides candidates with invaluable tips.

Having spent a great deal of time reading about the exam and other people’s experiences, I came to realise that there are no shortcuts. If you want to pass Module 1, you must study intensively as well as consistently. When it comes to Delta Module 1, cramming for the exam just won’t cut it! Understanding it in advance helped me a lot and prepared me psychologically for the 3 most intense months of my life. Believe it or not, I studied every single day from August, 28th to December, 6th in preparation for it. Therefore, it’s important to  bear in mind that on a weekly basis, you’ll need to allocate 12 hours or so to study all the areas tested on the exam or at least pick the areas that you are weak in and focus on them. For those of you who are unaware of the areas tested, Module 1 covers:

  • ELT Terminology
  • Grammar knowledge
  • Vocabulary knowledge
  • Pronunciation
  • Knowledge about assessment
  • Discourse knowledge
  • ELT History and Methodology

As you probably know, you don’t have to take a prep. course for Module 1. However, I can’t stress enough how helpful it can be to have a tutor marking your work and giving you feedback. In my case, being unable to go to São Paulo every week, I  decided to take a 3-month prep course for Module 1 with Distance Delta, which means that the entire Module 1 course was provided online. In short, every week they’d send us input on the areas above-mentioned which we were supposed to read and then do a series of tasks related to all the exercises tested on the exam. Subsequently, we’d send the tasks to our tutors so they could mark them and give us feedack on the areas where improvement was required. Although there were strict deadlines to be met, having the opportunity to receive feedback is key to improve whatever you’re doing so whenever I received mine, I always tried to take the comments on board.

Before the course begins, you’ll receive a reading list with loads of books that can help you during your preparation for Module 1. As much as you may want to buy and read all of them, it may not be really feasible. For starters, ELT books are rather expensive and as an English teacher, I dare say that time will be limited. Ergo, you should choose your books wisely. Luckily, I already had some of the books suggested for Module 1 so I ended up buying a just few of them. Perhaps, the rule of thumb  here is to have – at least – one great book on each of the areas tested on Module 1. Here’s the list of the books I used for my preparation and every and each one of them proved to be extremely helpful:

  • ELT Terminology – Scott Thornbury: An A-Z of ELT
  • Grammar knowledge – Martin Parrott: Grammar for English Teachers
  • Vocabulary knowledge – Norbert Schmitt and Michael McCarthy: Vocabulary: Description, Acquistion and Pedagogy
  • Pronunciation – Adrian Underhill: Sound Foundations
  • Knowledge about assessment – Arthur Hughes: Testing for Language Teachers
  • Discourse knowledge – Scott Thornbury: Beyond the Sentence
  • ELT History and Methodology – Diane Larsen-Freeman and Marti Anderson: Teaching and Principles in Language Teaching.

Last but not least, I highly recommend you buy Scott Thornbury: About Language and do all the tasks available. Seriously, go through this book from cover to cover. The tasks provided here bear some resemblance to some of the exercises that you are going to face in the exam. Not to mention that you’re bound to learn a lot about English and English Teaching as you make your way through the book

In summary, there’s no denying that Delta Module 1 is utterly challenging – albeit, achievable. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure whether I can pinpoint how I passed it with distinction. I don’t think that I can single out one thing in particular that contributed to my result, but rather a combination of factors.  In restrospect, I think that a big part of it comes down to having a great tutor, enough discipline to study and read everything that you’re supposed to, willingness to complete all the tasks assigned and gracefully accept negative feedback and unflagging motivation to carry on. What’s next? Well, Delta Module 2 is about to begin and I’m really looking forward to it. This time, I’m doing the face-to-face course at Seven, São Paulo. Wish me luck!


Best of luck, Sérgio! We have a feeling you won’t need it, though. =) And thank you for all these great tips! 

7 thoughts on “Delta Module 1 with Distinction? Done!

  1. Sergio, I’m so proud of you! It feels so good to know that we have that level of professionals in Brazil, that I can’t even express in words! Well done! Well done! I wish you all the best and even more great achievements!!!!

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