June 24, 2014 by gemmalunn
This is the third part in a series of interviews with international students studying Masters in Applied Linguistics and ELT at the University of Reading, you can find part one here and part two here. Hopefully these posts will give potential students and also teachers a more personal insight into the highs and lows of a Master’s course and see different people’s experiences. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to post them below.
This interview is with Argyri. Argyri is from Heraklion in Crete where she teachers young learners of 5 and 8-10 years old. She is studying on the MA in ELT portfolio track which, instead of a dissertation, involves producing three large pieces of coursework on: observation, a learner profile and micro-teaching. Below is a video Argyri produced as part of the IT for Language Teaching module.
Q1. What made you decide to come and do a Masters at Reading?
Well I started late in teaching, my first degree is in Marketing so I wanted to find out a bit more about what I was currently doing because I’m involved with teaching, so I wanted to know more about this subject.
Q2. Is the course what you expected?
Partly, I would have expected it to be a bit more practical in terms of doing some practical sessions because I’m very interested in teaching English to young learners and this MA is broad in terms of topics. I am currently taking a young learners module but that was just one module on the whole course. And yes, I would have expected it to be a little bit more practical but it’s good to know about the theories, this base tells us how to teach and back up the practice.
Q3. What’s been the hardest thing about the course?
I think the hardest part of the course is the writing for me because I don’t feel very skilled at this moment. Mainly because I’m not used to using this skill I’m used to using my voice because, you know, when you teach young learners it’s very different from teaching academic English. Also, in my first degree there wasn’t any academic writing because I did it in Greece so the assessment was different. I’ve found it a little bit difficult to write, but I’m coping, I’m a struggling writer but I’m coping!
Q4. What have you enjoyed the most?
I’ve enjoyed Clare Wright’s classes because they are more practical oriented, you connect theory to practice in some way. For example, we look at some theory about listening then we have to think of listening tasks that we can apply to the classroom, we have to think of the context, the learners etc, these are tools that we are going to use in the future. I’m not a researcher, I’m not going to a PhD, and so I think this is a more useful approach for me.
Q5. How has the workload been? Have you had any time to do other activities apart from studying?
At the beginning I wanted to and I did join some singing and drama workshops but then we got very busy so I had to drop these. The workload is a lot and you can’t really have a life!
Q6. What advice would you give other international students who were thinking about doing a Masters in England?
I’ve seen some colleagues struggling a lot with this course because they didn’t have any teaching experience and not only in terms of not having the experience and not being able to relate theories to practice but because they didn’t even know if they like teaching. This course is not very practical, you’re not in the classroom, you’re not interacting with students, they really don’t get an idea about teaching and they end up hating teaching because they just know the theoretical side! I would recommend before doing any MA that it is useful to work first to get an idea about the area you like.
Q7. How much impact will this course have on your teaching when you go back to Crete?
Well, I feel I have a better understanding about what I’m doing at home. I feel that I’ve been doing things the right way but by accident! I have the knowledge now that I know where the practice comes from so I know why I’m doing things and that I’m doing it right. When you speak to teachers and colleagues you can back up your argument, explain it and give references, you know, you can argue about it. So when, for example, a parent says I don’t want them to do tasks and games in the classroom, I want them to prepare for exams, then I will be able to tell them that this IS the best way to prepare for the exams, by doing communicative tasks etc.