Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MA TESOL) is a specialist masters degree offered by the University of Bath aimed those who wish to enhance their career prospects in the field of teaching of English as a second, foreign or additional language.
We took the opportunity to have a chat with three Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages students, John, Elsie and David at a coffee shop on campus, and ask them about their TESOL experience at the University of Bath.
Before studying MA TESOL, John studied English as his undergraduate degree in China and Elsie worked for seven years for a not-for-profit organisation in Canada mentoring University students. David worked in the Academic Skills Centre at the University of Bath and was teaching locally on a freelance basis before he joined MA TESOL.
How would you describe your MA TESOL experience?
Elsie: This year has given me a chance to realise how much I love studying and learning, so I’ve really enjoyed the dissertation. It’s made me realise that I do want to pursue PhD study and do more research in the future. I feel I’ve had good training from Bath in how to be a researcher. It’s also great to watch your own tutors talk about their own research and get excited about it.
David: In general there is an intense period of assignment writing over two semesters on the MA TESOL. One benefit at Bath we had is that assignment questions are set very early on so we could start researching straight away.
John: As students we come from diverse backgrounds. Some of us were working in China or the Far East, some used to work in Australia, Norway, Canada, Iran, Cameroon, Argentina, so when we came together to discuss and share experiences, this was one of my favourite parts of the year. Everyone has their own stories.
One of my favourite lectures was about ideology and TESOL. I remember I was so impressed and so excited after that lecture because it’s a really interesting topic.
David: I like the fact that we’ve been able to be flexible about what we study and shape it around our own interests. I’ve been teaching for eight years so I didn’t want to look at the mechanics of teaching, I was interested in looking at the cultural and political side of teaching English. This year I studied teaching in Bahrain where I used to work, and India and the Philippines, which is great as these are the areas that interest me.
What do you feel you have achieved this year?
David: Teaching English as a second, foreign or additional language experience is all very important, and so are qualifications. You’ll get nowhere with just qualifications, and nowhere with just experience, so it’s a very useful thing to have if you want to further yourself as a teacher but also as a researcher. It’s a valuable degree and it’s versatile. I didn’t really need it to improve my level of teaching, but it’s given me a new insight into teaching.
Elsie: For me this year has been about growing in critical thinking. Learning to think about how we learn will help me as I start to think about doing PhD and doing more research. It’s given me a more critical way of looking at the world.
David: It gives you an understanding of why you do things as a teacher. There are certain things you take for granted so now I understand the theory of where it comes from. This year I’ve applied this learning into my teaching and have been more confident that what I’m doing has been right.
Look out for part 2 of our interview with MA Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages students.