Chih-Shan Chuang, MSc Language Education 2022
'The degree certainly made me a more professional teacher who can effectively apply teaching strategies in the classroom and create a safe zone for students from diverse backgrounds.'
Prior to studying at the University of Edinburgh, Chih-Shan was a preschool English teacher in Taiwan.
Why did you choose to study at the University of Edinburgh?
I am Taiwanese, and I had already made plans to complete my master's degree outside of Taiwan. I applied to universities in the US and the UK, and with luck, I was accepted to the schools I wanted in both countries. I prioritised attending a university in the UK since I have previously studied in the US and would like to learn more about the European educational system. Before accepting my offer, I looked up reviews of the university and pictures of the University of Edinburgh online, and I was amazed by the city's beauty, its architecture, its culture, and its people. In addition, a relative of mine completed her master's degree here and adores the location and atmosphere of the school, which made me want to attend the University of Edinburgh even more.
Why did you choose to study this degree?
When I was seeking a job in Taiwan and the US, it was required for teachers who wanted to teach multiple languages to have at least a Master's degree. Furthermore, after reviewing every course offered by every university, I decided on the MSc in Language Education since it allows you to teach whatever language you desire and offers students a pedagogy that is insightful and effective.
What did you enjoy most about the programme?
Out of all the learning experiences, the dissertation process is the one I appreciate the best. Working on the dissertation is a fulfilling and rewarding process because the topic I select for the research is one that interests me and is relevant to my context. Additionally, all of the courses I did the prior semester helped me advance this paper, which is such a satisfying and unexpected outcome when I realise it. Although it is such a rewarding journey to review the literature and analyse the data to look for the answer, there are times when I feel hopeless and want to give up. However, the effort will be worthwhile once you've finished it.
What specific skills did you develop?
I improved my ability to think critically and collaborate with people from various cultural backgrounds. The teacher poses debatable issues to the class, and the students discuss and share their own context while exchanging views in the workshop. It's a great approach to build critical thinking skills because you're not just taking the teacher's word for it. Additionally, the student develops the argument on their own by discussing it with peers from a variety of backgrounds.
What was the most useful thing you learned in your lectures, workshops and tutorials?
The most useful thing I took away from my degree was to confront the preconceived notions that teachers have when they are instructing, such as the monolingual approach to teaching languages. The main emphasis of language education is on multilingualism, which is a crucial and insightful idea for the global trend of language learning. In the lectures, the professor will often pose hotly contested problems to which there is no clear answer, allowing the students to debate and come up with their own arguments to present in the workshops. This approach not only calls into question previously held notions, but also enables the student to arrive at an answer to share with the class.
Why would you recommend the programme to others?
Language education, in my opinion, is the best programme to help pupils create a multilingual mindset and dispel the monolingual mentality that still predominates in language acquisition. Additionally, as students come from various cultural backgrounds, individuals can share insightful opinions and ideas with one another. The students I met in our major establish a safe environment where they can bond and share their native tongues and cultures without fear of offending others. As a result, I develop my social skills, learn to appreciate others, and exchange and integrate views to create stronger arguments. It is the most amazing and unique experience I have ever had, and it enables me to teach pupils about different cultures and provide a secure environment for them.
In what way do you think the degree will contribute to your career?
The degree certainly made me a more professional teacher who can effectively apply teaching strategies in the classroom and create a safe zone for students from diverse backgrounds. Moreover, my degree has certainly made me a more informed educator, and it carries a bit of weight on my CV.
What advice would you give to someone considering studying this programme at Edinburgh?
If you are an international student like me, I'd like to encourage you to start working on your application as soon as possible and not to be intimidated by the difficulties of studying abroad. I am aware of your possible fear and anxiety, but if you are persistent, have faith in yourself, you can make it. The most important thing to keep in mind when studying abroad is to not be afraid to reach out to others. Asking for assistance from your personal tutors or even the professors is perfectly acceptable, and the programme staff is always available to assist you whenever you need it.