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Good MA Applied Linguistics (online/distance)?
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valley_girl



Joined: 22 Sep 2004
Posts: 272
Location: Somewhere in Canada

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 3:14 pm    Post subject: Good MA Applied Linguistics (online/distance)? Reply with quote

I'm checking out the different MA (Applied Linguistics) programs and would love to get some input from people who have taken one online or by distance to help me narrow down my choices. Through which university did you take your course? What did you like or dislike about it? How long did it take you to complete? Any other useful info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Smile
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Chris_Crossley



Joined: 26 Jun 2004
Posts: 1797
Location: Still in the centre of Furnace City, PRC, after eight years!!!

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 3:55 pm    Post subject: The Open University (UK) MA in Education (App. Ling.) Reply with quote

I am currently undertaking an MA in Education (Applied Linguistics) by distance-learning with the Open University (UK). I started it in February this year and I intend to finish it by October next year.

It consists of 180 points' worth of modules at graduate level (under the UK higher education points system), and I am undertaking a 60-point course entitled "The Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages Worldwide' (or TESOLW, for short) and a 30-point course entitled "Innovation in e-Learning" simultaneously.

I intend to follow these up with a 30-point course entitled "The e-Learning Professional" and a 60-point course entitled "Language and literacy in a changing world". None of these modules requires physical attendance nor do any have a conventional written examinations, although there are small-scale projects for them all and continuous assessment in the forms of assignments submitted to the university electronically (which saves on time and postage charges!).

The cost of the whole degree is 4,870 GBP at 2006-7 fee levels for those studying outside the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, and these modules can be studied practically anywhere in the world.

I guess the best thing about it is the fact that it is available to study in China and the fees are affordable compared to those being charged at other universities around the globe for something comparable. Another good thing is being able to use asynchronous communication with people taking the same courses around the globe.

Indeed, some students in my tutor group for the "Innovation in e-Learning" course live in places as far apart as China (me), Egypt, Jordan, the U.S. (Chicago, albeit a British expat who married an American in her case!), the Netherlands, Germany and, of course, the U.K. Hence, we can get some interesting perspectives based on all kinds of work experience, whether in teaching or not. None of us in the tutor group are young twenty-somethings, rather we have all been in work for at least a few years in whatever professions we have followed and are following now; indeed, some have already had career changes in the past five years or so.

Another interesting thing is that we are supposed to use course-based blogs to submit matters up for comment and discussion on things that we have read and are supposed to find out about. The entries may not necessarily count towards the assignments, but, even if the module on e-learning is in its first year and has been running for nearly three months, it is already becoming clear that some students are contributing far more work to their blogs than others.

As one might expect, the workload is heavy, especially for those who work long hours, since it is a postgraduate degree, and I am guessing that some of my fellow tutees may have far too much work of their own to do, which may be why some have not really contributed all that much, so it may become a joke whenever the instructions for an activity say something along the lines of "Discuss your findings with your tutor group" when there is hardly anybody to discuss them with!

Still, this postgraduate degree means a lot to me, and I am ploughing on with it when I can spare the time, even if I do have a wife and a two-year-old daughter who wants Daddy's attention. My wife is very supportive of my desire to succeed. Having family support is wonderful whenever one is investing one's time, and a considerably sum of money, in taking an advanced degree in the expectation that it will lead to something better job-wise in the future, even if I know that there is never any guarantee of that happening.

Having said that, the degree, once it is awarded, will be permanent and for life - unlike a job.
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Gordon



Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Posts: 5309
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2006 4:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just finished my masters degree from the University of Southern Queensland http://www.usq.edu.au . I'd recommend this program to anyone as they are well organized and you learn a lot. The workload is quite heavy, about 12-15 hours/course per semester. You need to complete 8 courses in all and the great part is that they have 3 semesters/year. I finished in 5 consecutive semesters so it took a year and 8 months of ABSOLUTELY NO LIFE! F/t work, private teaching, a family while doing 2 courses is really tough. I never would have been able to do it in such a short time without my wife who carried the load in the parenting department. My son was born in the middle of course #5 so that really added to the stress. The 3 semesters is a big plus, I think because it gives you a lot more flexibility about when to take your courses and how many to take.

Some of the drawbacks: the turn around time for getting assignments back was way too long, IMO, often 4 weeks and this was with electronic submissions. Some profs did not communicate very much with you and sometimes I got the felling they had something better to do than talk to us Very Happy
Courses cost $1170 AUS each X 8 courses. Books are extra. Tuition never went up while I was there and if you are Australian, fees are quite a bit less (lucky dogs). I think the tuition is pretty reasonable, not the cheapest, but nowhere near some of the British or American degrees.

Distance ed is not for everyone. You need to have you life in order first because it will be upside down for 2 years and you need to be organized and set strict deadlines for yourself. Often 2 big papers would be due on the same day (from 2 courses) so you had to get one done 10-14 days ahead of time which is easier said than done.

I think I would have preferred to do the degree on campus as you get a better chance to interact with your peers and profs, but really a postgraduate degree places the emphasis of the workload on the shoulder and much of your time is spent researching and writing. Also, how many parents can take a year or 2 off to be a f/t student? Not many. By teaching while I studied, I was able to use what I learnt right away and when I am done, I don't have to go job hunting right away since I already had a job.


Last edited by Gordon on Sat Apr 29, 2006 1:17 pm; edited 1 time in total
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sheeba



Joined: 17 Jun 2004
Posts: 1123

PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2006 7:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am seriousely considering the Open University degree that Chris is doing . It seems reasonably priced to me .

Valley Girl . I hope you don't mind me asking Chris a few questions on your thread . I see them relevant to your initial query .

So Chris - Can I take the TESLW module in my first year and then review if i want to continue to obtain a Masters after completion of this part ? If I decide to stop there I guess I will still obtain a qualification ?

I also am concerned about the academic ability needed for the course . I am currently reading a lot into different areas of Foreign language - Phonetics,Discourse,Language Acquisition , Educational Psychology and so on . I find the reading managable and interesting but sometimes get confused in some areas. I have a CELTA and my coursework in that was up to scratch . Do you think that you need a certain level of knowledge to begin such a course ? I don't want to be swimming in water that is too deep for me .

Thanks
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Sheikh Inal Ovar



Joined: 04 Dec 2005
Posts: 1208
Location: Melo Drama School

PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2006 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aston University has a popular and well respected programme ... averaging 10 - 15 hours per week you used to be able to finish it in around 2 years ... maybe less now as the number of credits required has been slightly reduced to bring it more in line with other distance courses being offered ...

The costs used to vary according to your location ... with Europe being cheaper than Asia ... Europe being simliar to the OU costs quoted above ...
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sojourner



Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Posts: 728
Location: nice, friendly, easy-going (ALL) Peoples' Republic of China

PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2006 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Valley Girl,

I recently completed an online MA (Applied Linguistics) degree, through the University of New England, Australia ( www.une.edu.au) . Go to the Arts Faculty icon, and follow the links.

I found it to be a pretty tough programme.There are eight units. One needs to do the four core units (Scope of Applied Linguistics, The Design of Language, The English Language, and Intercultural Communication), and four options. There is a reasonably wide choice of options - but many of them may not be available in the year or semester when you want to do them - thus, it is necessary to plan your units well in advance. If the units you are interested in are not available, UNE will sometimes allow you to do a couple of units being offered by other departments in the Faculty, or even other Faculties. It's also possible to do a couple of units being offered by other unis - but you'll have to ask for UNE's permission well in advance. For example, in one year, I did a unit, being offered by another department, called "Cultural Contact and Hybridity in the Arts of Asia" - fantastic unit, far more interesting, in fact, than any of the Applied Linguistics on offer at the time ! In my last semester, I was given permission to enrol in a distance education unit being offered by Macquarie University called "Language for Specific Purposes" - this unit would be very useful for one who wants to get out of run-of-the mill Oral English teaching, and who is interested in areas involving ESP and EAP. In UNE's Education Faculty, there are units that would interest many ESL teachers : Adult Learning and Teaching Processes, Curriculum Planning, International Education, TESOL, etc.


As I mentioned earlier, the MA(AL) is an 8-unit degree. Many students will try to complete the requirements in two years, ie to do two units per semester. However, I should point out that a two unit per semester regime would mean very litttle spare time for sight seeing, socialising, etc, if you also happen to be working full-time ! If you want to enjoy life, I suggest that you do only one unit per semester. How desperate are you to complete your degree ? I started the degree in the 2nd semester of 2002, when I did two units (was in ROK at the time , but not working), and then when I went to China, I did one unit per semester until the end of 2005 - thus, the degree took me 3.5 years to complete.

UNE is definitely NOT a degree mill; nor is it merely a PO box number or www address ! - it is fully recognised by the Government. Although most of its students are "externals", it also has "internal" students who attend lectures at an actual campus ! The university has been in existence for about 70 years - for its first 20 years, it was a college of the University of Sydney (the country's oldest uni), and it became a uni in its own right around 1958.

You would find that the fees for non-Australians to be considerably below those charged by Nth American and UK unis.

For further info re the MA(AL) programme, go to the UNE website, and look up the email address of Dr Karen Woodman who, incidently, hails from Canada.



Peter

- - - - - - - - -

Gordon,

Thanks for your PM. Congratulations on having completed your degree !

Peter
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valley_girl



Joined: 22 Sep 2004
Posts: 272
Location: Somewhere in Canada

PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2006 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is great feedback! Keep it coming! Smile

Sojourner, the University of New England is at the top of my list at the moment. Thanks for your info! I am hoping to do my degree in two years without killing myself (I also work full-time and I'm a single parent) so I may reconsider this one.
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sojourner



Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Posts: 728
Location: nice, friendly, easy-going (ALL) Peoples' Republic of China

PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2006 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Valley Girl,

Something I forgot to mention in my post.

After you graduate, where do you intend to work ? It would appear that there are some places in the world that do not recognise online/distance education degrees - Taiwan, as well as a couple of countries in the M.E. /Gulf region.

Peter
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Gordon



Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Posts: 5309
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2006 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Peter. Thanks for your help with the China page too for my website. I also must add that the UNE program looks good and it was my second choice for masters programs. In fact ALL Australian universities are fully accredited and recognized by the government, just like in Canada, eh.

USQ also allows you to take 2 courses outside the linguistics dept as well, but not from another university. I took a web design course from the education dept and it was demanding, but very intersting. My final assignment was my website below on Teaching English Abroad.

To add to your point, the ONLY country that does not recognize distance degrees is Taiwan. The ministry of education in UAE also doesn't recognize them, but this ministry only deals with high schools and primary schools, NOT universities. Many many people are teaching in UAE universities with distance degrees.
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Chris_Crossley



Joined: 26 Jun 2004
Posts: 1797
Location: Still in the centre of Furnace City, PRC, after eight years!!!

PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 3:14 am    Post subject: The Open University (UK) MA in Education (App. Ling.) Reply with quote

sheeba wrote:
I am seriousely considering the Open University degree that Chris is doing . It seems reasonably priced to me .

Valley Girl . I hope you don't mind me asking Chris a few questions on your thread . I see them relevant to your initial query .

So Chris - Can I take the TESLW module in my first year and then review if i want to continue to obtain a Masters after completion of this part ? If I decide to stop there I guess I will still obtain a qualification ?

I also am concerned about the academic ability needed for the course . I am currently reading a lot into different areas of Foreign language - Phonetics,Discourse,Language Acquisition , Educational Psychology and so on . I find the reading managable and interesting but sometimes get confused in some areas. I have a CELTA and my coursework in that was up to scratch . Do you think that you need a certain level of knowledge to begin such a course ? I don't want to be swimming in water that is too deep for me .

Thanks


Hi, Sheeba!

Apart from an educational research module, you are more or less free to take modules in whichever order you like within the Open University MA in Education (MAEd) programme. For me, TESOLW (weighted as one full-module out of three needed for the MA degree) seemed like a logical place to start and it just happened that the Innovations in e-Learning module, which carries half the weight of the TESOLW module, started at the same time, so I decided to take the plunge and do this one at the same time.

Qualifications-wise, you are entitled to a Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Studies in Education (PGCertPSE) if you complete any fully-weighted module (or two half-modules). Should you decide to carry on, you can then do another full-module and gain a Postgraduate Diploma (PGDipPSE). Completing a third full-module will gain you the MAEd degree (though you can call it the MEd, if you wish; your choice of degree title does not depend on the modules taken).

Given that the qualifications are seen as hierarchical, the Open University will allow you to hold all three qualifications at the same time and you can count one of these modules as the core module of the Doctorate in Education (Ed.D.) if you wish to carry on and do one. Indeed, you can even count one full-module (or one or two halves) towards another O.U. postgraduate taught degree or even an undergraduate degree if you so wish, such is the system of flexibility that exists with the university as to what courses you can count towards which qualification.

Regarding previous knowledge, having TESOL experience obviously does help (indeed, you are advised to have it), yet knowledge of applied linguistics is not necessarily assumed, although I did two undergraduate modules in English language and linguistics (in 2000 and 2001), so I was re-familiarizing myself with some of the concepts of aspects like systemic functional linguistics (SFL) of the Hallidayan kind. Since you say that you are doing a lot of reading in terms of linguistics, I do not believe that you have much to concern yourself about.

The TESOLW module, like almost every other module in the MAEd programme, is available only once per year and starts in February, so, if you want to do it, you will have to wait nine months. However, registering now (until the end of October) is possible and you may even get your course mailing several months in advance and thus be able to start early. Indeed, I got my mailing in late November, so I was able to make quite a head start right away.

Further details about the TESOLW module can be found at http://www3.open.ac.uk/courses/bin/p12.dll?C01wE841. The fee for the course starting in February 2007 for those resident outside the European Union is 1,605 GBP. Further details about all modules in the MA in Education programme can be found at http://www3.open.ac.uk/courses/bin/p12.dll?Q01F01.

Be aware, though, that not all modules are available to those registering outside the European Union. However, it is possible to study for the Applied Linguistics strand of the master's degree completely outside the E.U. No physical attendance is required and there are no examinations (except for the educational research module, though that is not available to those registering outside the E.U.).

By the way, the half-modules that I described earlier, includng the Innovations in e-Learning module, are technically part of the MA in Online and Distance Education (MAODE) programme, which can also be taken outside the E.U. The equivalent of one full-module can count towards the MA in Education, and so I intend to count two half-modules from this programme, partly because I am interested in learning about e-learning and partly because I can finish the degree a year earlier than originally planned (otherwise I would have progressed at the rate of just one fully-weighted module per year).

Hope this helps. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to PM me.
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valley_girl



Joined: 22 Sep 2004
Posts: 272
Location: Somewhere in Canada

PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2006 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sojourner wrote:
Valley Girl,

Something I forgot to mention in my post.

After you graduate, where do you intend to work ? It would appear that there are some places in the world that do not recognise online/distance education degrees - Taiwan, as well as a couple of countries in the M.E. /Gulf region.

Peter


I will continue to work in Canada after I complete my MA. I may someday go overseas again, but it won't be to Taiwan - been there, done that, almost got killed doing it. Razz

The university programs (online or distance) I have looked at all appear to be quite reputable. The ones mentioned on this thread in particular are the very ones I have on my shortlist. I am just having trouble with the final decision. I have also heard that the University of Leicester (sp?) has a great program. Does anyone have any info on Leicester?
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snorklequeen



Joined: 16 Jun 2005
Posts: 188
Location: Houston, Texas, USA

PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2006 10:55 pm    Post subject: Taiwan Reply with quote

Valley Girl, hi,

what happened to you in Taiwan?

cheers,

Q
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valley_girl



Joined: 22 Sep 2004
Posts: 272
Location: Somewhere in Canada

PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2006 11:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Taiwan Reply with quote

snorklequeen wrote:


what happened to you in Taiwan?


I was hit by a bus.
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Gordon



Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Posts: 5309
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2006 12:19 am    Post subject: Re: Taiwan Reply with quote

valley_girl wrote:
snorklequeen wrote:


what happened to you in Taiwan?


I was hit by a bus.


Ouch!
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sheeba



Joined: 17 Jun 2004
Posts: 1123

PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 6:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Hope this helps. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to PM me.


Thanks Chris for your detailed response . I may PM you in time .
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