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Which Master's
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valleyninja



Joined: 14 Jul 2009
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2013 12:46 pm    Post subject: Which Master's Reply with quote

Hi all,

I appreciate there have already been a few posts on this subject, but I'd still like a little advice if its not too much trouble. So, I have a number of questions about career progression and further study:

I'm a British but Indonesia based ESL teacher with a BEng, a Delta, and about 3 years of teaching experience. I really enjoyed doing the Delta, and now I'm enthusiastic about continuing to study and getting a Master's.

What I would like is:

To further my career in Indonesia (more senior positions, or work in a university)
To possibly work somewhere else in the future, also in a good job (middle east or elsewhere in Asia I would have thought)
To give me a variety of job options if I move back to the UK
I'd prefer to teach adults as opposed to children, but the option to work in an international school would also be welcome (for free schooling in the future)

I'm considering a distance master's in the following:

MA Applied Linguistics (a subject I find interesting)
MA TESOL (applied linguistics and delta sounds like a better combination to me)
MA Education (broader but maybe less relevent)
MA Educational leadership (something i find less interesting, but should be more useful if my career moves in that direction, and less useful if it doesn't)
An open university MEd (Applied Linguistics) (the best of both, or not enough of either)
I don't want to do the PGCE as I can't afford the time or commitment, and would prefer to teach adults

So what's the best option do you think? And are there any other options I haven't thought of?

Thanks,
Alex
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GambateBingBangBOOM



Joined: 04 Nov 2003
Posts: 1897
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:41 pm    Post subject: Re: Which Master's Reply with quote

valleyninja wrote:

I'm considering a distance master's in the following:

MA Applied Linguistics (a subject I find interesting)
MA TESOL (applied linguistics and delta sounds like a better combination to me)


These two are the same thing, so long as the application of linguistics being studied is English language teaching. There may be a slight emphasis change.
Quote:

MA Education (broader but maybe less relevent)


Do you mean an MA Education (or M.Ed) without a specific major ( a bit of all things). Unless you have a PGCE (or equivalent) and teach in the k12 sector, it's possible that this may be too broad to be much use.

Quote:
MA Educational leadership (something i find less interesting, but should be more useful if my career moves in that direction, and less useful if it doesn't)


Maybe worry about that when you come to it. If you don't want to get into being educational management now, then don't do this. It isn't uncommon for people in education to have more than one masters degree.

Quote:

An open university MEd (Applied Linguistics) (the best of both, or not enough of either)


This could be just a different name for a MA (TESOL) or an MA (Applied Linguistics) or an M.Ed (TESOL). It may give you more choice in taking courses outside of language teaching but within education (and therefore more breadth- unless you just do language teaching modules anyway).

Quote:
So what's the best option do you think? And are there any other options I haven't thought of?

By and large the name of the degree is part of an institution's MARKETING of that product. I know of one school that allows you to do the EXACT same courses in the same order and come out with one of two different degree names. And one of them is more marketable (it sounds cooler) and so they charge you more. They're the same courses- everybody is together. It's just that the name of one degree is far more marketable. But it's JUST THE NAME. These degrees were not in language teaching, though.

I think you should look through and find a course that has interesting courses / modules / units. I think you should make very, very sure that you can use the online library after classes have finished. I think you should look up the research interests of the professors. This will tell you if the course emphasizes phsycholinguistics or sociolinguistics. Generally, universities in the US emphasize the former and universities in Australia and also the UK (though possibly to a slightly lesser extent) emphasize the latter. Both are valid, though very different ways of looking at language.
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 884

PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2013 3:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Which Master's Reply with quote

valleyninja wrote:

An open university MEd (Applied Linguistics) (the best of both, or not enough of either)


Of your options I would choose this one, not least because (assuming you are within the time limits) you can transfer the credit from your DELTA. IIRC it's worth 1/3rd of the course credits, which will save you a significant chunk of cash. Plus it's a good course and seems to fit your criteria (although distance courses can be a problem in the ME). A straight MEd without a specialization is a bit too vague.
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LH123



Joined: 13 Jun 2010
Posts: 43

PostPosted: Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did the M.Ed Applied Linguistics with the OU. To be honest, I found it very mixed - some modules were very good, while some really weren't.

The obligatory E891 module is notoriously awful.

I had the choice of calling it either

M.Ed Applied Linguistics

or

MA Education (Applied Linguistics)

I chose the former 'cos, rightly or wrongly, it just seemed better.
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valleyninja



Joined: 14 Jul 2009
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 12:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies so far...

Looking at the specifics of the courses sounds like a good idea, I shall get onto that. I think I have been swayed by the marketing slightly though, as an MA Applied Linguistics sounds more impressive to me than an MA TESOL.

Also sound advice about the MEd and MEd leadership, with the thoughts similar to what I'd been thinking. There is a course (with Institute of Education IIRC) that offers modules in English in SE Asia amongst other things, which would make it more relevant to my current situation. What is the k12 sector? Is this like teaching primary/secondary school in the UK?

I'd also been thinking about the OU MEd (Applied Linguistics) due to the ability to transfer credits from my Delta. But if I don't need to do 1/3 (Delta), and another 1/3 is 'notoriously awful', that doesn't leave much of a course left for me...

Which degree is likely to be most useful if I move back to the UK at some point?
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timothypfox



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 371

PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 2:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I recommend any TESOL related master's with teaching certification. If you ever work in International Schools as you suggest you might, you will need a program with home country teaching certification and experience teaching in a public school in your home country.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 3961
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

valleyninja wrote:
Looking at the specifics of the courses sounds like a good idea, I shall get onto that. I think I have been swayed by the marketing slightly though, as an MA Applied Linguistics sounds more impressive to me than an MA TESOL.

Don't be swayed solely by the degree major/title. Making your decision based on a program's content is a smarter idea; it ensures you get the courses that will best fulfill both your learning needs and career goals.

There's a related discussion thread, "What do you look for in a BA or MA degree program?" (http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/viewtopic.php?t=95138).
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 884

PostPosted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd take the 'notoriously awful' comment with a pinch of salt. I know quite a few people who've taken it and all bar one spoke positively of it. Although some of them did find it quite hard. YMMV of course.

As far as I know, it's not possible to do an MA and become a certified teacher at the same time in the UK. You would have to take the 2 courses separately. Also, qualifying as a teacher specialising in TESOL doesn't make you very employable in the UK or abroad. In both cases the better positions are usually for teaching content not ESL/EFL.

If you can find a masters that also gives you something like CILT that might be of use in the future. As long as it meets the minimum regulations for teaching at uni or FE colleges in the UK. It's not a major factor though as it's usually offered as on the job training and it isn't recognised outside the UK.
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mmcmorrow



Joined: 30 Sep 2007
Posts: 109
Location: New Zealand

PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 3:18 am    Post subject: A few suggestions Reply with quote

The fact that you enjoyed the Delta and are not especially into the idea of a management-focused MA suggests that you might want to go for a general MA in ELT / ESOL / Appl Ling. You'll need to check out the contents / focus of the particular programmes, as it's hard to tell from the title whether the programme is more linguistic or educational in focus.

There are numerous distance programmes to choose from, including N. American, UK, Australian and NZ unis. I'd suggest having a look at the newish Lancaster Uni programme, as well as the one from the Institute of Education (both are run by people who've been involved in IATEFL etc for many years and have a classroom emphasis). But these are just two of many. UK courses are currently benefitting from lowish exchange rates (compared to those from Australia, for instance). But, honestly, have a good look around what's on offer. One way to get an idea of the focus of a particular course is to look at the publications / experience list of the tutors. You might also want to check if there's information on the website about any 'cross credits' you'll receive as a Delta holder.

By the way, an old uni friend of mine, Rachel Wicaksono, spent many years in ELT in Indonesia and is now Head of a Department at York St John Uni in the UK, running MA courses etc (but I don't think they have a distance module). Anyway, you might be wanting to follow a similar trajectory yourself (she did her MA and then a doctorate through the Institute of Education).

Martin McMorrow, Massey University, New Zealand
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Concepcion780



Joined: 10 Aug 2011
Posts: 32
Location: United States

PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What is the k12 sector? Is this like teaching primary/secondary school in the UK?

Yes. It refers to Kindergarten through 12th grade.
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daikaiju



Joined: 03 Mar 2013
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've just been accepted into three Masters programs in the UK. Two of them are via distance study ( Birmingham and Nottingham) and one is an onsite course in Kingston.

I'm wondering if it's better to go for the cheap option or whether I should stick to Universities which are highly rated in TEFL?

The onsite course would be cheaper to do and I could finish it in one year, but the other two are rated highly so may be better for me in the long run.
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mmcmorrow



Joined: 30 Sep 2007
Posts: 109
Location: New Zealand

PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 4:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Daikajiu,

I guess you'll have to factor all of those things into your decision - including your motivations for doing the MA, your interests, how you study best etc.

I agree that Kingston isn't such a name in the ELT world as Nottingham or Birmingham. That could be one issue. It doesn't necessarily mean it's not a good course for you though.

Still, looking at the names of the tutors on the Kingston course, none of them were familar from books, conferences etc and not many seem to be really ELT specialists, as such, which gives me the impression that it's more of an Education MA with a bit of ELT, than an MA in ELT as such. The 'field leader', for instance, Dr Victoria Perselli, did her PhD in the inclusion of children with learning diabilities in mainstream schools. None of the staff mention any ELT qualification (compare this with Averil Coxhead's staff page at Victoria Uni, Wellington, for instance, which starts off with her RSA Cert and Dip and gives a list of places she's taught in, as well as her research). The overall info online about the course seems a bit scanty (what's the curriculum? what's compulsory or optional? how is it assessed?) so it's hard to say any more.

Apart from ranking ELT courses, another consideration is how the focus of the course matches your personal interests and aspirations. You can look at the staff and what they focus on to get an idea of what lies in store. Nottingham has a tradition of corpus linguistics, including spoken English and vocab (e.g. McCarthy, Carter) as well as motivation (Dornyei); Birmingham also has the corpus ling / vocab tradition. Australian unis tend to include systemic functional grammar (Halliday) and discourse analysis in general as a big element. Auckland Uni has a big focus on task-centred language teaching (Rod Ellis etc) and Kings College, London has had a bit of that too - particularly the cognitive approach (Peter Skehan etc). Lancaster Uni and the Inst of Ed. have some TEFL classroom links (I think) through their staff.

Anyway, my point is that the content of each MA depends on the interests / beliefs / research of the people associated with the department in the past and present. So that can be a way of choosing one which matches your own interests - and if you're not sure, you can always read a couple of things written by the lecturers to see how it might feel to be their students.

cheers,

Martin McMorrow, Massey Uni, NZ
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daikaiju



Joined: 03 Mar 2013
Posts: 20

PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the reply mmcmorrow!

The King's course would've been the best option, but unfortunately I wasn't accepted onto the course. I've got a month to decide before I make a decision. The modules on offer at Kingston do look good and the course leader said they're looking into adding a teaching practicum to the course for the September start. That would definitely make the course more appealing if that happens.

At the moment I'm leaning towards Birmingham as it seems to have the best reputation for TEFL at Masters level.
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valleyninja



Joined: 14 Jul 2009
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The bit I most enjoyed from the Delta was the theoretical stuff, about how language is learnt, and how this can be applied to teaching. So I'm also leaning towards the MA from Birmingham, good reputation and interesting sounding content.

Does anyone know about the MSc in Applied Linguistics and MSc in TESOL from Aston, and why they are MSc's rather than MA's?

HLJHLJ: You mention that being a teacher specialising in TESOL won't make me very employable in the UK. What if I had a MA in Applied Linguistics or Education, with some management as well as teaching experience? Would this open more doors for me?
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GambateBingBangBOOM



Joined: 04 Nov 2003
Posts: 1897
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Sat Mar 23, 2013 3:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

valleyninja wrote:

Does anyone know about the MSc in Applied Linguistics and MSc in TESOL from Aston, and why they are MSc's rather than MA's?


In order to differentiate between the people who did Aston's on-campus degree (who receive an MA) and the people who did Aston's distance degree (who receive an M.Sc) without letting on to employers outside of the university that that's what they are doing, unless the employer actually bothers to look it up (many universities like to employ graduates of their own programs, and some will want to be able to discern the on-campus {in-group} with off-campus {out-group}).

Slightly related question: Can anybody tell me why they still allow Oxford and Cambridge to give people a "masters" for having done nothing at all after completing their undergrad? By far most employers have no idea that the person with a B.A from Cambridge as well as an M.A. from Cambridge doesn't actually have a graduate degree. Wikipedia link
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