An average day in 2010 when..
I receive an email with my MA TESOL diploma attached. Woopeee me thinks and after about an hour of disbelief I decide to tell me boss. Will it entitle me to a pay rise/promotion/serious praise/an embarrassing hug I wonder?
“Hello, I just got my MA diploma”
“Oh, you finished?”
“I didn’t know that.”
“Er, no,…So, does it mean I can apply for a pay rise?”
“No, but you can send it to the admin department anyway but they’re closed”
Since this event I wouldn’t actually say it’s helped me directly. It does make me eligible for the famed British Uni EAP jobs but even though I fill the criteria there seems to be something else I don’t have. Actually, if you look at a lot of MA TESOL tutors/teachers very few have a PhD and some don’t have the DELTA or some do but don’t have an MA in TESOL/TEFL (because they’re still new topics). What they often do have is good experience and that seems to beat the qualification in some places. However, I have applied for similar jobs and now the majority of unis do demand a Phd or you to be doing one.
Was it useful?
I work outside the EFL industry so to speak so being English and having a ‘certificate’ is enough, anything else confuses people but when I was in Asia you HAD to have an MA but in anything. In fact, having one in teaching English was not seen well as it wasn’t a subject. Teachers would ask me “what’s your field?” and I’d say “teaching English” and the reply was “but what subject do you teach?”.
What the MA has done for me is just give me an extra that some people don’t have and it shows you know what you are talking about. Having an MA also makes me eligible for Asian jobs if I ever decide to go back, or at least a higher pay rate/flight reimbursement.
Honestly, I don’t remember a lot of what I studied on the MA, probably as I did it intensively in about 14 months distance. But now I’ve started looking back and realising what was actually useful and wondering how it can move from ideas to practice.. Yes, there were some great practical stuff but there were so many courses and they were so long that it was hard to transfer everything to my teaching.
Would I recommend people do an MA in TESOL?
Is distance learning effective?
Very much so if you have the time and are in a place to do all the research.
As a matter of fact, I’d say I benefitted more from it being distance as I did all the mini-tasks, research activities and dissertation on MY students which was invaluable.
If you’re thinking of doing an MA TESOL I’d really look around to find one that’s exactly what you want and affordable. Look at the options, schedule and decide if you can take a year off or do it distance and still squeeze it into your life. It’s not easy and you will have to sacrifice your social life, Twitter, FB and a lot of sleep. For me the courses were easier to manage as I studied intensively and then took my time on the assignments or split my studying between mid-course tests/assignments/projects. However, when I was writing up my research I was working 6 days a week until 6/7 pm which meant I had very late/early nights/mornings and wrote most of the paper in the bathroom as I kept everyone awake typing.
With these kind of challenges and sacrifices the main question is ‘will it help you and your career?‘.
What I find interesting is that many big EFL names don’t have an MA. For many the DELTA is enough and for many schools it is so. Yet, I think there has to be a secret to why these people get to the top, given that some may even have less experience than people reading this. What is their ‘secret ingredient?’. I really feel it’s that they work on their teaching, they read, they experiment, they live the ideas and principles. What we read on my course remains just ideas or text to many of us but these people put it into practice. This is why my reference sections always have lots of ETp or ELTJ or BESIG journal references and less and less academic books and conference papers. However, a sure fire tip for any MA paper is to include a Scott Thornbury quote and the newer the better. When I did this it blew tutors for six because they were still reading old books so a 2010 quote from his blog was the newest thing they’d ever seen. Try it!
Would you, did you, have you, will you do an MA TESOL?