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Past Questions

  1. Hello Matthew, I am from Muscat, Oman. I wish to study TESOL at Birmingham, but I'm a bit confused as I'm currently a translator with a bachelor degree in translation. How would TESOL be useful to me? Does it qualify me to seek teaching opportunities in higher institutions? Another question is regarding the fees of the study as I intend to study online. Could you please tell me the total cost of 2 years of study?

    Waiting for your reply.

    Everyone has different reasons for embarking on an MA program. And even among those who study for better employment opportunities or for a better CV are also facing different contexts. I live and work in Korea as a university teacher. Here, my CV was enhanced by pursuing an MA at the University of Birmingham, UK. But I don't know about your context or your employment prospects, or where you want to apply for jobs or what kinds of jobs you want to apply for.

    As regards to fees, that information should be available online or via the enquiries you make in the application process. It was some time ago that I attended, so the fees I paid then might be out of date.

  2. How did you choose the MA in TESOL? Were you tempted by the MA in Applied Linguistics?

    I read about the course requirements for each. The Applied Linguistics had less compelling course offerings, considering my interests, professional background, and goals.

  3. Hello Matthew,

    I have applied for the MA in TESOL (distance learning) and have a couple of queries I was hoping you could help me with. Firstly, please can you tell me if each module assessment comprises of only 4,000-word essays (as suggested on the course website) or are there other forms of assessment e.g. presentations? Secondly, how long does each module last, and is there the option to complete modules during the Summer months/ get ahead with course material in anyway? I wasn't sure if they only run February-May and September- December?

    Many thanks!

    Since it has been a few years since I finished my degree, I think the answers I would give here might be out-dated. These are questions I think you should pose to a person who is presently enrolled or who is presently teaching at Birmingham. Sorry.

  4. How is the MA Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) (distance learning) program structured? From what I can tell, it seems that there are six required modules plus the dissertation. If there are four semesters for studying plus one for the dissertation, how are the six modules spaced out over four semesters? Are there some semesters where you are required to take more than one module, even doing the program part-time? Do all modules run the entire 4 months of the semester? Are some run in 1/2 semester blocks? Should I be budgeting more than 30 months to do this online while continuing to work full-time? Thanks for any insight you could provide!

    My understanding is that there are three quarters each year. Each quarter, you will do two modules. So six modules will be completed in two years time. After that course work, you will have 6 months to complete your thesis/ dissertation. If you can complete your paper in 5 hours after enrolling in this or that module, then practically speaking, your work for that module is done. Though that is generally not how a student would proceed. Instead, he/ she will do the required reading over a couple months time, and then spend the remainder of the time crafting his/ her paper. You can take longer than 6 months to do your dissertation if you like, but you carefully plan it out with your advisor, tailoring the content and timing with them according to your needs. I found my writing tutors and my advisor at Birmingham to be VERY sensitive to my abilities, my needs, so it all went smoothly.

  5. Hi, I just wanted to know more about distance learning in the field that you have completed. What would you advise me to do?

    Everyone has different interests, so without knowing you, I can't really comment on this. Perhaps you could make a more specific question for me?

  6. Hi Matthew,

    I've recently applied to the TESOL course and would appreciate your response to some questions I have.

    1. How soon did you receive your offer from the University of Birmingham once you applied?

    2. Is there any recommended reading you would suggest before I start the course?

    1. I received my reply pretty quickly. If you ask in an email, they should be able to give you a rough timeline.

    2. If you can get access to the general course materials, start on those that pique your interest.

  7. I am considering the MA in Applied Linguistics but I worry about the jump from a BA to an MA. Could you please give me any feedback on how you found the step up to an MA from any previous studies. Did you find the study time from a degree to an MA increased and if so how much would you say by?

    Just make sure you have enough time each week and each month to do the reading and the writing tasks. Everyone is different, so I can't guide you here except to say that your previous studies should generally give you an idea of what you are capable of and what you are not.

  8. Regarding the dissertation, is it online, via Skype or you did you have to go to the University?

    Your class work is mostly online in the form of essays you must write and turn in online. There are opportunities to take classes / attend meetings on campus if you wish, but the ONLINE option is online. Finally, to address your specific question about the dissertation. You conduct research where you live, confer with your advisor via email or chat, and you will write your essay at home after having completed the required coursework. You will make your dissertation finally into a PDF and send that via email when you are finished.

  9. What was your motivation for undertaking postgraduate study?

    I have been an English teacher since 2002. In that time, I have built up a considerable amount of confidence and competence in my everyday practice. After completing my CELTA in 2011, I decided that while I knew enough to be considered competent and effective, I saw the possibility to improve my general practical pedagogical knowledge via a formalized course of study. Therefore, my main motivation for embarking on the journey of an MA in TEFL/ TESL was to enhance my confidence and my competence in teaching.

  10. Why did you choose the University of Birmingham?

    I have taught EFL in Korea since 2004 and have stayed in the same city since 2005. A few years after arriving in this city, I started meeting fellow teachers engaged in various online courses. After listening to their stories about their various programs of study, I was determined to find a program suitable for me. Quite a lot of the people I knew were enrolled in the University of Birmingham and when questioned about their experiences there, they had only good things to say about the programme. For this reason, I thought Birmingham was the only logical choice for me.

  11. What has been the highlight of your time at Birmingham?

    The highlight of the programme has been my interactions with and the connections I have made with my writing tutor and my advisor. Although I have always been a very competent writer, I have also felt the need and the desire for improvement. Therefore, one of the main skills I intended on improving via the MA program was my ability to frame more logical, more compelling, more academic arguments in a written format. My writing tutor and my advisor have been of inestimable value in helping me to improve my ability to think more systematically and to put those thoughts down in a way that can be more easily understood in an academic context.

  12. What, for you, are the best things about the course?

    The reading lists offered in the courses are top notch and can be mined for years to come, as are the course materials themselves. However, the best thing about the course has been the connections I have made with the professors, fellow students, my writing tutor, my dissertation advisor, and administration. Any time I had a question or a difficulty of any sort, these people were always there to help me out. Not only have they been very professional, they have also been uncommonly friendly and pleasant.

  13. Do you have anything lined up for once you have completed your degree?

    I plan to continue my studies after the programme is finished, in one fashion or another, either in a formal setting or on my own. I have a few friends who have done or are presently in the midst of doctoral studies and this seems like something I might be interested in, so this is something I am mulling over. I am definitely interested in trying to publish some of my work in TESOL Quarterly or another journal friendly to qualitative research, being particularly interested in the topics of narrative inquiry, professional development, and literary studies.

  14. Is attending graduation commencement ceremonies an option as a distance learning student?

    Yes, it is. I was offered this but I live quite far away and was busy at the time, so I did not attend mine.

  15. Regarding the certificate, will it say that it is Distance Learning?

    The diploma one receives in this program does not indicate online or offline. However, you should know that employers from the Middle East have historically, in the recent past, say the past 5-7 years or more as far as I know, been inclined to ask about the online or offline nature of candidates' degree programs, so one would not exactly be getting around this hiring snag were it to present itself in any serious manner.