Crikes! How to Buy All the Books?


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Good question.

There is NO official set reading list for the Cambridge Delta. My Delta ‘longlist’ currently has some 300 book titles on it. I amalgamated several course provider lists to make my own list, but I’m already sensing that I won’t need to read all 300 books to be able to get the content that I need for the Delta Module 1 test, or even the entire course.

Problem 1:

If you were taking all three Delta modules in the space of just twelve weeks, there is no way you could do the reading list justice unless you had a genius-level super-memory.

Problem 2:

Cost. Imagine that each book cost averaged 10 GBP. That would mean a theoretical 2,500 GBP spent on the reading list if you attempted to buy ALL 300 books yourself.

Now, having been in teaching for nearly twenty years at this point, I have already accumulated a lot of the ‘classics’. These classics, as it were – such as the Richards and Rogers’s Approaches and Methods – are still very much the staple of most Delta reading lists. In fact, glancing through the reading lists, most books were published in the 1990s. Have things not moved on that much? It wouldn’t seem like a huge amount, certainly not in the general terminology needed for Module 1. Therefore, some of my purchasing (and reading – but it’s too rusty to rely on) is already done, but I still only have about 50 titles on my longlist of 250+.


So where to get the rest? Here is how I got my books so far, and how I will get any future books:

Amazon, eBay, Gumtree:

The likes of Amazon definitely help when sourcing used books at reduced prices (some of the titles I’ve bought were priced at only 1 GBP), although don’t forget to try and support the independent retailers and charity bookstores on the high street first. Especially around big universities, charity stores can stock a lot of used academic reading list titles.

Other teachers:

Have any of your pals already got the books? Are they willing to lend them to you? Have you asked around on online ELT forums if other teachers have unwanted books?

Your school:

If you are studying for your Delta on-site at an institution, they are sure to have a lot of their recommended reading titles.

If you are teaching at an institution, look around the shelves of your school and ask the managers if there are any boxes of old books lurking around in the basement (I once got a few this way after a nearby retired teacher was moving house and who thought that the best place to take all his old ELT books was to our school).


Don’t forget ye olde library. These days, a lot of titles can be accessed electronically, so no more being on wait lists, dubious stains on books, or going back to and fro in person.


If you’re doing a stint working with an ELT publisher, they can often have shelf loads of titles, and if you’re working for them freelance, say, as an author, you can request some books from them as part of your research.

Some publisher websites will have PDF samples of their books available for anyone to download. A chapter or so is better than nothing.


A word about ‘Sharing’ websites:

There are several such sites out there which shockingly have just about everything on them. I mean whole ELT books. Coming from a publishing background, I really don’t support sites which are filled with PDF downloads of commercial titles, and if I happen to be working with a publisher while I come across one of their titles on these ‘free-sharing’ sites, I will let the publisher know. ‘Sharing’ in this way is denying authors of royalty and denying publishers from raking back on their heavy investment in producing a book. However, despite my avid support for publishers, I am going to confess here that I have sourced a couple of books through such sites that are out of print and unavailable elsewhere.


And where is my reading list?

I will be providing reading lists later on, as the list needs a bit of filtering work. My list is organized into several areas: Grammar, Testing, Phonology, Approaches, the ‘four’ skills, Lexis, and Discourse.