Creating a community for distance learners

15 October 2009

When Bell launched their online Delta course in 2008 they were determined to create dynamic tutor and class interaction. ‘Many people expect online work to be lonely and dull,’ explains Jim Scrivener, Bell’s Head of Teacher Development, ‘so they’re pleasantly surprised by the active nature of the classes.’ As well as individual tasks and essays, the course includes pair work, group work, peer correction, discussions and debates. One participant even claimed it was ‘more sociable than meeting face-to-face - somehow people seem to be more open when they can’t see each other!’

Uniquely, Bell Online Delta can be delivered entirely in teachers’ own locations. Even Module 2, a practical assessment of teaching skills, is assessed by Bell-accredited regional Delta trainers and visiting external assessors, who visit teachers in their own classrooms. No orientation course is needed and candidates can concentrate on preparing classes rather than booking flights and accommodation.

Bell has also noticed some unexpected benefits to distance learning. The syllabus for Module 1, for example, covers the theory of teaching and learning, which suits online delivery. Scrivener explains, ‘On an intensive face-to-face course candidates often have little time to read in enough depth, whereas with an online programme they have more time for the reading, task preparation and exam practice. We are finding that exam results are much higher as a result.’

Bell has established formal support structures for participants – individual tutorials, advice sessions, peer feedback – but they also build support into the entire course. With their worldwide network of experienced tutors, the Bell team can generally answer questions within hours, or even minutes. Indeed, one participant had the impression that ‘tutors were sitting at their computers waiting for questions!’

The next step is to create an online social programme. Scrivener has been experimenting with Second Life and has just hosted a party for Delta candidates on Bell’s virtual tropical island - not something he could do face-to-face!

Bell Online Delta Module One has start dates in September and February. We also offer Modules Two and Three and run intensive face-to-face CELTA courses, with full-time and part-time options.
In addition, Bell offers teacher development courses at Bell Teacher Campus Cambridge in July and August and at Bell International College, Cambridge in January and February.


Delta course enquiries:

Telephone: +44 (0) 1580 879121

Online enquiry form

Media and press enquiries:

Caroline Davidson
PR and Marketing Executive
Bell International
Red Cross Lane
Cambridge, CB2 0QU

Telephone: +44 (0)1223 275567
Fax: +44 (0)1223 414080

Notes to Editors

About Bell

Bell is a leading educational charity and one of the largest British-owned providers of English language education services. Each year, Bell helps over 100,000 students, from more than 120 countries through one of its 37 worldwide teaching centres and e-channels, primarily to learn English and other languages. Bell operates 9 centres in the UK, including a boarding school for international students.

The organisation also provides teacher training, educational management, consultancy and project services to international organisations, universities and governments.

About Bell Online Delta

Launched in 2008, the Bell Online Delta provides an innovative study programme to help teachers take full advantage of the modular format for the Delta qualification and so fit their studies around a full-time career. Participants work when it suits them each week with focused and informed study.  There is regular exam practice with constructive feedback from highly experienced TEFL tutors, maximising the chances of exam success. Individual modules can be taken as part of a programme of continuous professional development, and participants receive a Cambridge ESOL certificate for every module passed.


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Jim Scrivener, Bell’s Head of Teacher Development