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Unit 1- Language, teaching and learning

Unit 1- Language, teaching and learning.
This is basically the written exam.  It’s 3 hours long but trust me time flies so you need plenty of prep before the exam.  Below you have some info taken from the Trinity site regarding the 3 sections in the exam:
Section 1 Language – Candidates must pass in a minimum of two sections which must include Section 1. – The weighting for Section 1 is now 40% – Candidates will answer four questions from a choice of five. These will relate to language, and will include focus on practical experience.
Section 2 Learning and Teaching – There is a choice of three essay questions. – The marking criteria have been amended and clarified. – Each essay chosen has 30% weighting – Phonology can be integrated as relevant to the question asked. (Previously some providers have assumed that phonology should be relegated to Unit 3 only.)
Section 3 Professional Development – There is a choice of three essay questions. – The marking criteria have been amended as for Section 2. – Each essay chosen has 30% weighting – Phonology can be integrated as relevant to the question asked. (Previously some providers have assumed that phonology should be included in Unit 3 only.)
Aggregate mark 50–79 for a pass,  80% for a distinction. Section 1 must pass.

Relevant Reading: The reading lists can be exhaustive! But here are some of the books I myself and the teachers I’ve spoken to found helpful:
-Grammar for English language teachers- Martin Parrot
-Learning Teaching- Jim Scrivener
-Teaching and learning in the language classroom- Tricia Hedge
-How languages are learnt- Patsy M. lightbown & Nina Spada
-The practice of English language teaching- Jeremy Harmer
-Big questions in ELT- Scott Thornbury
-Mistakes and correction- Julian Edge
-Practical English usage- Michael Swan
-Uncovering Grammar- Scott Thornbury


Language awareness Topics:


Your tutors should guide you as to which topics to study/ revise but the truth is the more the better! Here’s a little list!

-Dummy operators (it/there)
-Cohesion and coherence
-Cleft sentences
-Adjacency pairs
-Adverbs- manner/time/degree
-word order
-Copular verbs
-Relative clauses
-Progressive/ perfect and simple forms
-Different ways of forming Negatives
-Indirect questions
-Adverb positions
-Conditional forms
-Articles A/the/an
-Multi-verb words/ phrasal verbs
-Gradable and non-gradable adjectives
-Cataphoric/anaphoric and exophoric references
-Non modal auxiliaries
-Modal & semi-modals
-Register and formality
-Stative verbs
-Finite and Non-finite clauses
-Time Vs tense
-Synonyms and antonyms
-Punctuation- apostrophe’s, colon/ semi-colon, hyphen
-Word formation- inflection/derivation/blended and clipped forms
-Lexis- homophones/homographs/homonyms



Now this part is never easy but you can do it! I was lucky enough to have a study buddy for the last 3 months of the course which really helped. Here are some tips, tried and tested! However, each of us knows what works best so go with it!


  1. Past Papers: The obvious one but try to do as many as possible and if your tutors are kind enough to mark them then hand as many in as you can! Try the following:

-Divide the papers up- go through as many past papers as you can and pick out recurrent questions from all 3 sections

-Time yourself! You should spend an hour on each section (yes seems so little!) or depending on how fast you write maybe a little longer on section 1 since it’s the one that takes up more time. Now it’s called ‘short answers’ section which always confused me! How short?! Make sure you get feedback from your tutors on how short to keep it and what points you should include.

Section 1: One of the ways I was advised and really worked with language awareness questions in section one was answering 3 key questions about each point:

  1. Definition
  2. Learner problems
  3. Activities

Below is an example:


  1. Definition- Affixes: An affix is a morpheme, added to the root of a word to change its meaning or form a new word. . An affix added to the front of a word is called a prefix e.g. incapable used to adjust or qualify the meaning of the root word and an affix added to the end of a word is a suffix e.g. comfortable used to form a derivative, frequently converts the stem into another part of speech (ing/ fy/ ation)

Derivational affixes change the semantic meaning or the part of speech of the affected word.

Happy (adj)    Happiness  ( noun)   unhappy ( negative adjective)

Inflectional affixes modify verb tense and nouns  without affecting the word’s meaning or class

I go      he goes     cat   cats


  1. Learner Problems: Using the inappropriate affix and confusion in meaning as some prefixes can have more than one meaning e.g. in- (not, into), ex- (out, beyond / former). Also several prefixes have the same meaning (e.g. un-, in-, im-, ir-, dis-). They can also have interference problems as some prefixes might mean something different in L1, hyphenations, spelling.
  2. Activity: Matching exercises with prefixes/ suffixes and their meaning, at higher levels correct the text exercise, adding the right prefix or suffix especially for exam prep classes (FCE/CAE), dictionary work and discovery exercises where Ss have to find words with unknown prefixes and look up their meaning in a dictionary. Also word building exercises work well with teaching prefixes and suffixes, where they’re given the base word and need to find the suffix e.g. help helpful or looking at word families and parts of speech through completing a chart (verb/ adj/ noun/ adverb)

Posters as peripherals, where Ss add prefixes to a list every time a word comes up in class


  1. Study buddy:

I highly recommend this! I don’t know what I would have done without my study buddy/ mentor! Find someone on the course who you can revise with and try to arrange Skype meetings at least twice a week. You can go through exam questions. Sections or entire papers together and compare answers, you can arrange 5 points each a session and give each other explanations/ a presentation- TEACH it! It’s what we do best and it’s how we learn.

3.Record it!

As much as I got SICK AND TIRED of hearing my own voice over and over! It was a helpful tool to record my notes on my voice recorder on the mobile- so instead of listening to the sweet sounds of Dylan and Bowie I was listening to myself on the bus, on the train, before bed! Obviously don’t overdo it, your mind needs to relax too but recording and listening to notes is a good way to remember things. You can also try mind maps, reading out loud (I pretended I was training teachers!), using visuals and acronyms for the main points of things you’re finding hard to remember.

4.Blank canvass:

A teacher friend of mine gave me this tip and it was awesome! Go into another room, a room with no resources (no notes, laptop, mobile) with blank paper and write down everything you can remember- so what I did was had headings, common points from each section e.g. copular verbs, learner autonomy, using authentic materials etc. I did this more with section 1 to be honest. It’s all about YOU and the BLANK CANVASS!! Or you can take a past exam paper. This technique really helps know what and how much you have retained and what are the gaps that need work on.

5.Don’t become a revision zombie!

Don’t overdo it! I say this because at one point I did and it caused nothing but stress and anxiety, so had to step away take a break for a few days. The mind cannot learn if it’s overloaded with info and on top of that you’re feeling anxious! Not a good mix. Take breaks, even if it means days without revising… YOU ARE A TEACHER! YOU’VE GOT THIS! Allow yourself downtime.




  1. […] Facebook page about model answers for Section 1 of the DipTESOL exam. I found one model answer here on this informative tesoldip blog. It doesn’t state the exact question asked, but you can infer […]

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the promo! You can find/ consult model answers through tutors on the Dip you’re studying… not so easily available online, though past test papers can be found online on Trinity web page


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