This is part 2 of my reflections about my experience of doing the M.A. in ELT at Leeds Metropolitan University. Part 1 deals with the Delta component of the course, and came about as a guest blog for Sandy Millin. You can read it on her blog, along with all the other respondents’ posts. Coming to the end of my M.A. in ELT: Taking stock. Classes are all but over, The assignments all but in, Time to say goodbye now But what a year it’s been! It’s been nearly a year since I applied to do my M.A. in ELT at Leeds Met. I distinctly remember getting to the end of the interview and being offered a place on the course – and then once the euphoria wore off using the next month to read everything ELT-related that I could get my hands on in preparation. But in between, I had to officially accept the offer, through an electronic system, and before I made that step of committing to giving up a year of my life and a fair old sum of money, I was intensely anxious. I hadn’t even heard of Leeds Met until I found the leaflet for the course in my conference pack at IATEFL 2012! What if it was totally shoddy? I was somewhat reassured by the universality of the Delta qualification element and also by the years of experience I discovered the tutors had when I nosed around the official Leeds Met site and located the profiles which mentioned the Delta and the M.A, and so it was I accepted my offer. And, without a doubt, professionally it’s been one of the best things I ever did. Coming to the end, and having had such a great experience on the course, I decided I wanted to write about it for my blog, so that anybody either in a similar position to the one I was in – about to accept and wanting reassurance that the decision wasn’t going to be a huge mistake – or in the position of choosing between various professional development options, could read it and use the information to help the decision-making process along. There are two main routes that exist for the M.A. in ELT: The first one, which I did, integrates the Delta into it, while the second one doesn’t. There are also part-time and full-time options – I did the full-time one – and an online version. My focus will, of course be my route, full-time M.A. in ELT with integrated Delta. In order to try and minimize the rambling, I will borrow from the set of questions used in Sandy’s Delta Conversations idea, and which I answered for the Delta component of this course. So here it is, my experience of the M.A. in ELT at Leeds Met: 1. Why did you choose this M.A.? Mostly because of the integrated Delta. I was very keen to upgrade my CELTA and generally make myself more employable. Doing the M.A. at the same time seemed like an added bonus! 2. What do you think you gained from doing this M.A.? What didn’t I gain?! To try and be more specific, then:
- The opportunity to develop a range of skills that I will be able to apply beyond the end of the course. So, for example, materials development, multimedia tool development, course development (this came through the Delta Module 3 element but the M.A. assessment, which reflected the Delta assignment, helped me process the whole thing in greater depth), how to do research, how to write a journal article, how to give good oral presentations. I had experience of none of these prior to the course, except for materials development and my experience of that was fairly minimal. So it was a steep learning curve, but coming out the other end, a lot doors have opened up to me. For example, I am going to be presenting at two conferences over the summer. At the first (The Warwick Applied Linguistics Conference in June) I will be presenting the research I did for the research module and at the second (the MATSDA conference in July), I will be presenting a sample of the work that I and my colleagues produced for the materials development module and discussing it in relation to the conference theme. Further into the future, I look forward to doing more research, developing more materials, writing journal articles for publication, being involved in course design, presenting at more conferences, and so on. I feel that a lot of doors have opened up to me through doing the course.
- A great deal more self-confidence than I had before, through discovering my “voice”. When I started the course, it quickly became apparent, in initial drafts of Delta Module 2 LSA1 and my Delta module 3 essay introduction, that this was something I lacked. This relates to the development of critical thinking skills, which is a very strong feature of this course, and the opportunity and guidance in this area of development contributed to the emergence of my “voice”.
- Awareness of the limitations of what I know as well as the ability to question everything and look for answers, both in the literature and through primary research of my own.
3. What were the benefits of doing an M.A. in ELT at Leeds Met? Well, having the opportunity to gain everything that I gained, as described above, for a start! In addition:
- A distinct benefit of doing this course is learning from the fantastic team of tutors who deliver it. They are all very experienced in their specialist areas and enthusiastic about sharing that experience and knowledge with the cohort. I have also found them all very supportive and helpful in every way.
- The group was nice and small, but not too small, and very diverse. This meant that as well as being close-knit and supportive, there were enough differing opinions to make for a wealth of stimulating discussion in class.
- Related to the above point, all the opportunity for discussion built in to all of the modules, so that as well as benefitting from the tutors’ knowledge, we also gained from the range of different experiences that we, the cohort, have had between us.
- The assessment strategy is brilliant. Each assessment type is very practical and you learn through doing it rather than simply being assessed. Of course, what you learn is also directly applicable beyond the end of the course.
- The opportunity to try everything out (by “everything”, I mean all the skills described in my answer to question 2 above) and be helped to learn how to do it all properly, in a supportive, scaffolded environment, and so being prepared to go off and do it all independently and hopefully develop my career.
4. What were the drawbacks of doing an M.A. in ELT at Leeds Met? There weren’t any! I’ve loved every minute of it. 5. What tips would you give other people who plan to do an M.A. (possibly at Leeds Met!)?
- The only limiting factor to what you can get out of the experience is what you put in. The more you put in, the more you get out.
- Be prepared to work and work and work and work…you get the point. It’s an all-consuming experience but that does make it incredibly rewarding too.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. The support is there. (I would hope this would be the same at other universities but of course I can only speak for the one I attended!)
- Read as much as you can before you start the course, especially if you are doing the integrated Delta: There aren’t enough hours in two semesters to start from scratch and read enough to maximize on the experience. Once you start doing the course, read cleverly: Make notes of where you’ve read stuff, target your reading carefully etc.
- Get drafts done in advance of assignment tutorials – you can benefit much more fully from these if the tutors have seen something beforehand.
- Enjoy it!! It’s an amazing experience and it comes to an end all too quickly.
Well, this post is far too long already so I shall bring it to a close now. If you have any questions about the course, contact Heather Buchanan (course leader) on firstname.lastname@example.org; if you have any specific questions you want to ask me about my experience of the course, that aren’t answered above, feel free to get in touch – email@example.com. Disclaimer: This blog post consists of my experience, my views and claims to be no more and no less!