May 19, 2014 by gemmalunn
I am currently studying an MA in Applied Linguistics at the University of Reading, this course as well as the MA in ELT is predominantly made up of international students. Anyone who has done an MA will know it’s no mean feat in your first language let alone in your second or even third! I have so much respect for international students studying abroad as I could never imagine understanding and then critically analysing academic texts in another language!
This series of posts will be interviews I’ve had with international students on my course. I thought it would be useful to share their thoughts and experiences, in the hope that these may help teachers and prospective international students.
The first interview is with Aliya. Aliya is from Pavlodar in Kazakhstan where she is a Mum of 3 and teaches English to first and second year university students at a Pedagogical Institute. She is studying on the MA Applied Linguistics Course.
Q1. What made you decide to come and do a Masters in England?
Actually, it was my dream from my university years, I always wanted to study and visit England, it was the country of my dreams and it was a great opportunity that I won a scholarship and came here, my dream has come true! By coming here I wanted to prove to myself that I could study and get an education here in England.
Q2. Is the course what you expected?
Yes, I like the course. I like the teachers, they are very professional and highly qualified and also I like my group mates and the university atmosphere environment, it’s very friendly. Of course I feel lonely without my family, without my children but coming to the university I feel myself in a warm, friendly environment where everybody is ready to help you, to give you advice, to support you. Yes I like it and it has exceeded all my expectations.
Q3. What has been the hardest thing about doing a Masters so far?
Writing the assignments, because you know we have different approaches to education. I was taught to write more descriptively and here the approach is different as they teach students to write critically and make evaluations. It is the most challenging thing for me to write critically.
Q4. How useful was the Pre-sessional course in preparing you for the Masters?
I think that a Pre-sessional course is very useful and significant before the main academic study because, as I mentioned before, we have the different approaches to education and on our Pre-sessional I was prepared to read, to write in an academic style and I appreciate this preparation time because without this it would be much harder to study now. I learnt a lot of useful things from my Pre-sessional course and I appreciate it. I think it’s very important to have a little course before the main academic study, especially for international students.
Q5. What have you enjoyed the most?
I mentioned the teachers and their attitudes towards the students, especially the international students and their readiness to help us, to give good advice. For example, when I had some stress before the summer term I was so upset that I could not go home and I had 3 assignments. I had an appointment with my personal tutor and she encouraged me to take a break and go somewhere so I went to Scotland, Ireland and N.Ireland to have a good 1 week vacation and yes it helped me!
Q6. How much will the course help you when you return home?
I hope that I will gain fruit from my labour as I have put in a lot of effort and I do much work and I hope that it will help me in my future career because it’s very valuable to have a degree from a foreign country.
Q7. Will it change the way you teach?
Yes absolutely, I will change my approach. I will teach my students like the teachers teach me here and I will try to make some changes in our curriculum and in our syllabus design, because it needs updating, a modern approach, its necessary to follow these approaches not ours and I hope that I will make some changes.
Q8. What advice would you give other international students who were thinking about doing a Masters in England?
I think that it will be advice concerning the study, not to be too nervous or too serious just because it may cause stress and just, as I was taught by my parents and by my grandparents, to plan your activity, to plan your time. Time management here is very important; maybe my advice will be according the time management. For example to work for this period without rest you cannot cope with all the difficulties. If you have a strict time schedule for assignment deadlines and the other activities and you follow your plan it will be fine, it will be ok 🙂