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An MA TESOL, what will it get me?
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tsaotuncaro



Joined: 08 Mar 2010
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:50 am    Post subject: MA TESOL Reply with quote

Hi, I also disagree that a MA in TESOL is a waste of time. I haven't done one but at this stage have done the graduate certificate in TESOL with the Uni of Wollongong in Australia. This was an excellent course and helped me immensely in my TESOL teaching practice, both with a deeper theoretical understanding and with practical application. The MA TESOL at the same university also looks excellent. I completely disagree the course content was Bachelor level, in fact it was very in depth and a huge amount of work! I have no regrets and plan to continue with the Masters at a later date. I think if you are interested in a Masters make your own judgement based on the courses you look at and evaluate yourself. Maybe the courses are of a lower standard where the person who thinks they are a waste of time lives..... Very Happy
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GambateBingBangBOOM



Joined: 08 Mar 2010
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lexicon wrote:
The reason I say it's a weak degree is because the curricula don't mesh with the outcomes goal of the degree system:

Associates -- you're supposed to be prepared to enter your field
Bachelors -- you're supposed to be fully knowledgeable in your field and ready to begin a career.
Masters -- you're supposed to be an expert in your field
Doctorate -- you're supposed to be able to teach your field to others.

*note that by teach your field I don't mean teach as in ESL, but rather teach others to be a part of your field.

...

If you already have a bachelor's and want to remain in the field, why not get a masters in Applied Linguistics or an MBA? There is likely little new that you would learn in an MA TESOL if you already have been in the field teaching.


Either Lexicon is a troll or is assuming that the program structure of a place like the University of Leicester is the same as everywhere else. It isn't. Applied Linguistics refers to the application of language studies. Teaching English is one of those applications. A masters degree in TESOL ***IS*** a masters degree in Applied Linguistics, it just goes by the name of the application rather than the name of the larger academic area. Applied Linguistics degrees can also be in other languages, or in speech pathology. But those would be different applications and therefore different degrees (and if that weren't the case, then people who wanted to hire English language teachers wouldn't be interested in someone for whom English language teaching was not the main focus of their degree).

Requirement to get into an MA in Applied Linguistics by distance from most universities: first degree plus at least two years experience. Requirement to get into an MA in TESOL from most universities: first degree plus at least two years of experience.

Universities often market more than one program in order to increase the potential and real number of students each year. Other universities name their degree one or the other. Some name them both- Leicester in the UK has an MA TESOL for complete newbies. It has an MA in Applied Linguistics and TESOL for people with two or more years of experience. Carleton University in Canada has a degree in Applied Linguistics (TEFL) for which a CTESL (another one year full-time program) is a prerequisite. Birmingham (in the UK) has both. And if you look at the course structure, you see that they are the same thing, though what is a requirement in one may be an elective in the other and vice versa. It's all one pool of courses, though.

The name of a degree is one way that a university markets its product (which is its courses). Applied Linguistics sounds like a fancy, complicated subject- like you need to know all about linguistics before you even attempt it (totally untrue, as seen by the entry requirements not including a degree in Linguistics). TESOL sounds like an education area. It appeals to a different audience.

Another reason for the naming of the degrees can simply be where it's housed. Masters in TESOL may be housed in a Faculty of Education, whereas a masters degree in Applied Linguistics may be housed in the Linguistics department.

Either way, saying that
Quote:
There is likely little new that you would learn in an MA TESOL if you already have been in the field teaching


is just wrong. It may describe the situation at one or two universities. But overall it doesn't describe the situation accurately in any way, shape or form.

There's a reason why job adverts ask for a masters in TESOL or Applied Linguistics. If Applied Linguistics was generally a more advanced area than TESOL, then obviously employers would ask for only that degree and TESOL as a degree would disappear.

I think people forget that the university where they did their own training may differ from others, and that teacher training varies from country to country. If you study language teaching in Australia, then you will very likely study something quite different than if you study language teaching in North America.
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miguelito



Joined: 08 Mar 2010
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:55 pm    Post subject: MA in Education Reply with quote

I graduated with a MA degree in Education from Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. Though I found a few courses that were weak, and instructors who were irresponsibly incompetent, in general, the training was rigorous and relevant. Plenty of papers were assigned, hefty textbooks, outside reading and research were all important components of the curricula. One of the intriguing aspects of this program and several others in New England at the time (early 90s) was the daily experience in real classrooms. With the Holmes Group's assessment and the publication of "Nation at Risk", there was a real emphasis in northeastern programs to eliminate undergraduate education courses. It was suggested that a liberal arts background served teachers better on the undergraduate level. The professional education and methods classes (including student teaching) would come later. Teachers in many districts in this area are required to complete a masters in five years after hiring. That's in some contracts. New hires would be expected to have that already. But I'm well aware that this is not what's happening throughout the country. Many southern and southwestern universities lag far behind this movement. I wouldn't, therefore, call my experience weak. Just the countrary, I feel I meet your definition, "expert", in the field of elementary & secondary education for which I was trained. I suppose it was the word "worthless" that struck such a hurtful tone that prompted later comments and this posting. I would not have been able to support myself as a private, parochial and public school teacher for fifteen years without that qualification. My experience, and that piece of paper, is what allowed me to make a go of it in China too. I appreciate the thread and look forward to further discussions.
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bfin



Joined: 08 Mar 2010
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:26 am    Post subject: MA TESOL does get you places Reply with quote

As a person who has an MA TESOL degree. I will tell you that it has its pros and cons and should be weighed by what you plan on doing with your life long term.

If your life goal is to live overseas and go from one teaching job to the next overseas-really MA TESOL is not necessary for most countries.

However, if in the future you plan on returning to a country where English is the first language and still want to use your experience to enter the work force, the MA TESOL is definitely beneficial.

PROS
1. Some countries pay you based on your degree proficiency-especially in parts of Asia. (I have made up to $32 an hour)

2. You can apply to any university, community college, or language program as a professor in the US-benefits, retirement, $$

3. Stateside an MA TESOL puts you above the rest of the independent tutors that are searching for students as students almost always pick education over experience.

4. You can work for private K-12 schools.

CONS
1. If you don't have a BA or MA in education-some states in the US do not allow you to to be certified to teach in public schools (K-12) without more schooling.

2.My program was a field-based program-which meant I had to teach and study at the same time-some people can't handle that kind of pressure.

3. It is an extra cost for travel, books, and tuition.

4. You have to deal with deadlines when most are used to going with the flow of overseas life.

If interested in the program I attended has an MA TESOL and a certification program. Go to Azusa Pacific University at apu.edu and look for field based MA TESOL

You spend two weeks in CA in the summer for class lectures and two weeks in the winter in Thailand. You pick where you want to teach around the world. Many of professors are the authors or collaborators of many of the TESOL books used around the world.

With my degree- I have been a professor in a Russian University. I have been a kindergarten and business English teach in Vietnam. I have taught at summer camps in the Galapagos Islands. I have worked stateside at a university and with Korean 4th-12th grade students.

-I haven't even had my degree for 5 years. Razz
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bgngranada



Joined: 25 Feb 2010
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 4:57 pm    Post subject: MA TESOL Reply with quote

Agreed. I'm not sure what programs lexicon is familiar with but it appears he may have based it off of a less than stellar program. So, to the original poster, a MA TESOL would certainly benefit you and is well recognized within our field (don't worry that a MA TESOL is apparently not as recognized as the sciences, mathematics, etc.).
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Lexicon



Joined: 11 Sep 2006
Posts: 153
Location: New Orleans

PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually guys I'm really pleased to hear of your good programs.

The MA TESOL degrees I have been exposed to (and the graduates of those programs I have dealt with) have been mostly from the UK, Southeastern US, and California. Every time I've looked into these programs (basically every time I had a training session with one of their graduates who seemed clueless I'd find out where they went to school and investigate), I've been sorely disappointed.

In many cases, especially Florida and Southern California -- places that should be at the forefront of TESOL innovation and training, the programs they're calling Master's degrees have little more in their curriculum than a CELTA certificate. With the UK programs, it seems to be more an issue of a lack of agreement on what an MA should do in general and then what a degreed teacher needs for an education. I think the system in the UK will likely undergo a huge overhaul sometime in the next few years as graduates of these programs are already starting to have problems with getting their training recognized in the rest of the EU.

Let me say also that I should have worded my comment about education degrees differently. There are certainly valid degree programs, and there are times when the content of an education degree is needed. However, again my experience has been that in most of the US, education degrees (whether they be at the bachelor, master, or doctoral level) tend to be very watered down content-wise compared to pure degrees in the fields they coordinate with. For example if you compare many schools' requirements for an undergraduate degree, a BA in history or English would require a minimum of 30-60 hours of coursework in history or Engilsh. This is just the minimum they expect someone with that degree to have taken so they can gain a reasonable level of knowledge in that field. Those same subjects though in a BEd degree generally only require 15-24 hours of English or History. So they're basically saying that we expect those who will be teaching a subject to have only a fraction of the knowledge of those who won't.

Many academics refer to such education programs as "cut and paste degrees" because while they have class after class in lesson planning, and administration, and how to do an activity that makes little Johnnny feel warm and fuzzy, they don't require that their graduates actually understand the field they will be teaching. There are some exceptions to this and the NE US seems to be home to most of them, but still the general way education degrees work is that they add in pedagogy courses at the cost of content.

I am one of those who believe that there should be no undergraduate teaching degrees, that you should be expected to earn a full BA in your subject area just like your non-teacher colleagues, and THEN add to this a teacher certification that allows you to apply that knowledge to the classroom environment.

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My main complaint even with the best MA TESOL programs is that they are designed in much the same way as the education degrees. Their focus is much more on learner psychology, lesson planning, administration, and such than it is on understanding languages, linguistics, and especially ENGLISH!

No one who doesn't thoroughly understand the grammar and linguistic ins and outs of the English language should ever be allowed to write, edit, or select a textbook. They should also not be in teacher training positions, or be allowed to parade around as an expert in the field of ESL. However, even the best MA TESOL programs have only a few courses dealing with the English language, and I have yet to find one at all that requires its graduates to have attained fluency in a second language themselves. Again, how can someone be expected to understand the challenges and processes involved in second language learners when they themselves have not experienced the process firsthand?

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Again, I'm glad that there are graduates of such programs who have done well with their training, however I still feel that until we as an industry and academic field can provide some semblance of minimum standards that go beyond pedagogy and theory and into practical knowledge and experience, MA TESOL degrees will fail to provide an adequate level of training required to equate their graduates with those of masters of other fields.
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GambateBingBangBOOM



Joined: 08 Mar 2010
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lexicon wrote:
I am one of those who believe that there should be no undergraduate teaching degrees, that you should be expected to earn a full BA in your subject area just like your non-teacher colleagues, and THEN add to this a teacher certification that allows you to apply that knowledge to the classroom environment.


that's the way it already is in most of the world. To become a French teacher, you first become fluent in French (this normally means you will have a degree in French) and then you do a one-year consecutive B.Ed to teach French at a specific level. To be a history teacher, you need a degree in History (usually with at least one full year course worth of the history of your own country- I'm Canadian, so to become a history teacher, I would need a 'teachable' in History- that's at least three full courses worth, of which one full-course worth must be in Canadian History). However, in reality, you have no chance whatsoever of actually getting into a faculty of education to become a history teacher without at least a major (one half of a double major honours degree) in history, and probably you'll need a four year specialty honours degree in History to actually get in. The way the 'teachable' works is with SECOND teachables (you need two teachables- a main one and a second one) to become a senior high school teacher. So often people will have a honours degree in History, and then the second teachable works out to be the majority of their electives throughout their degree to get the second one. Other people double major in two teachable subjects (a double major in history and English Lit, for example).

If I'm understanding you correctly, you think that the prerequisite for a Masters in TESOL / Applied Linguistics should be an undergraduate degree in Linguistics. I personally don't have an undergrad in Linguistics- but I have taken courses in the linguistics department. I have a double major in English and Music History (and have taken a few History courses on top in order to get a second teachable in history). I've been teaching for going on a decade now and one thing I've noticed is that people with undergraduate degrees in Linguistics usually have a problem when it comes time to teaching ESL or EFL because of the tendency of Linguistics programs to study language as a science (in looking at language as a science, they look at it as as near as possible to a purely intellectual phenomenon). Because of the material covered, English degrees (as well as many other Humanities areas- especially ones relaed to looking at other cultures- Asian History, any of the arts etc.) are probably better suited for actual language teaching than Linguistics degrees, when combined with SOME linguistics courses (ie grammar, SLE, phonetics, a survey course methodology, practicum, sociolinguistics etc). Maybe more important for English language teachers is just having come from highly multicultural areas where interacting with people from many other cultures is commonplace (like if you are from Toronto, New York, Vancouver, LA etc). Being from an area with a high percentage of one other linguistic group is useful (like if you live in Ottawa there is a huge number of French people around, and if you are near the border of Mexico, there will be a huge number of Spanish speaking people around) but not as useful as being from an area where half of all people are from any of hundreds of other linguistics groups (there are over 150 languages spoken in Toronto alone, some divided into little areas like Little Italy etc, but most not being like that).
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kayumochi



Joined: 18 May 2010
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 3:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have been reading this thread with great interest as I am considering an MA TESOL. After almost 15 years in Japan teaching I decided to leave a few years ago with my Japanese wife and spend some time in the States. Now I am a media rep, like it well enough, but miss teaching and plan to leave the USA permanently and return to Japan. Would an MA TESOL have made a difference in my income in the town where I lived in Japan? Probably not. Certainly not enough to justify the cost and effort. But I don't plan to live in that town again and want options available to me that were not there before. Certainly the possibility of teaching outside of Japan from time to time is appealing as well.
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markc



Joined: 15 Jun 2010
Posts: 66
Location: Taiwan

PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

An interesting discussion, but after taking an MEd TESOL recently I don't really recognize my course in the descriptions given by Lexicon. The whole course was not based on grammar, but then neither is the whole of language teaching. There are other topics to cover, including second language acquisition, methodology - yes even those with years of teaching experience can benefit from exposure to new ideas - phonology, and the various specialisms within language teaching.

For my course a minimum of 3 years teaching experience was required to take it. I think this was too low. 5 years would have been a better level of experience. The amount of reading I was expected to do was high. Some applied linguistics courses I've seen, do spend more time studying language, but they sometimes neglect the study of education.
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gharwell1



Joined: 29 Jun 2005
Posts: 15
Location: INDIA

PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 6:49 am    Post subject: Where dop you get the Money? Reply with quote

Where do you guys get the money to take all these MA' s, etc.? My first job after my Bachelors was teaching English and since then (31 years) I have never had enough money to go to the next level.
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markc



Joined: 15 Jun 2010
Posts: 66
Location: Taiwan

PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 9:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you remain as an English teacher it's hard to get enough money. You need to do something extra. In my case I set up a chain of language schools, which I later sold.
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Katie Trulio



Joined: 03 Jul 2011
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 7:30 am    Post subject: TEFL Certificates Reply with quote

I know you guys are talking about MA programs, but most people I know just have a TEFL certification from a company like TEFL Express which just do online courses. They're not as good as classroom experience, but a lot of places just want you to have the paper!
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marcus arnold



Joined: 13 Aug 2011
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 4:43 am    Post subject: MA in TESOL Reply with quote

I think spending time to upgrade your knowledge in your field is never a waste of time for as long as you have the resources and willingness...It is always rewarding depending on what you want to do with your MA in TESOL or Applied Linguistics...There are so many places to go to teach English for both native speakers and near native speakers...the question is how competent and adaptable you are to your working environment...You might have all the degrees in the TESOL or Linguistics but you can be trampled by an enthusiastic charming and energetic teacher who just had an online or a TEFL/TESOL certificate....
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MJM



Joined: 14 Jan 2012
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 4:22 am    Post subject: An MS Ed in TESOL IS a waste of time (and money) Reply with quote

If you live in NYC a degree in TESOL will help you to earn more money -- if you are bilingual (Spanish being your first language) and are already in the system as a bilingual teacher. I was told by the then head of the TESOL Department at Fordham University, when I spoke with her before enrolling in the program, that I didn't need to be bilingual and that I would have no trouble getting a job teaching English as a second language, as I had all the qualifications except the MS Ed, which of course I could get at Fordham. I was told I didn't need to speak Spanish well; that the fact that I'd studied both French and Spanish and had some knowledge of those languages would be quite adequate. ...I was sold a fantasy. I couldn't get a job in the NY public school system because I wasn't bilingual and wasn't considered committed to bilingual education which, in practice, focused on teaching bilingual students in Spanish. At the Department of Labor in Manhattan I was told that I had "a worthless degree" as far as getting a job in a city agency went -- even if I were bilingual -- that "Anglos aren't hired; we send them out but they're not hired." Overseas jobs pay little and are few and far between for unestablished teachers without good contacts there and networking in place; I was told a few times that British English was preferred, and EU citizens. I tried applying to the Army, and was told that I didn't qualify (TESOL degrees didn't count). I found out I could earn $10 or less an hour freelancing for private educational institutions...where TESOL teachers were often expected to volunteer unpaid hours as well. My TESOL degree has truly been a waste of the considerable money I invested hoping to have a second career, as well as a complete waste of time.
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critter



Joined: 17 Feb 2012
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 6:41 pm    Post subject: Master's Degrees Reply with quote

Here are my two or three cents:

First, I admit that I haven't taken a Master's degree in TESOL, nor have I been a teacher in this area. But, if this helps anyone, consider my thoughts as a PhD graduate in a social science field.

I have spent A LOT of time around academia, and my critical view is that higher (and higher) degrees get created, particularly in the social services, and at least in North America, when there is a market for them and to regulate employment. That is the fundamental reason these degrees exist: to make money for the institutions that create them and to ensure that not TOO many people get into the profession, but "just enough." The human services professions (teaching, social work, etc.) have, if you look at their histories, ramped up the certifications/degrees necessary to enter a profession or to get a "better" job within a profession.

So, then: Ask what you are actually learning. Ask, above all, if it is necessary to spend two, three, five years learning something that either (a) you already know or (b) you could learn more effectively by apprenticeship or through a shorter course.

In the end, there are TWO practical considerations, though. (1) Are you learning valuable information and techniques, and (2) is it necessary to have this degree in order to do what you want to do? These are SEPARATE questions. It may be that you don't really need the degree because of the information you learn, but because you are satisfying the requirements of these professional guilds. But don't confuse the latter with the former, though "higher education" institutions will make the effort to obscure this crucial distinction.

How many social workers and psychologists have I known who say, "Well, you really learn out in the field, not in the classroom." Okay, then why the years of "learning" located "in the classroom"? Cui bono? And don't tell me about "quality control" - after all this training, there are still lousy teachers, lousy social workers, and lousy psychotherapists.

Best regards.
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