Georgie Thorman, MSc Language Education 2022
'The broad nature of the programme really appealed to me - the fact that it was 'language education' not 'teaching English', meant that it would leave doors open to potentially teaching [another language] in the future.'
Prior to starting her studies at the University of Edinburgh, Georgie had been living in Barcelona teaching English to mostly Spanish-speaking learners, and learning Spanish.
Why did you choose to study at the University of Edinburgh?
I visited a friend there in 2019 and completely fell in love with the city. Having thought I knew what a ‘UK city’ was, it definitely exceeded my expectations with its beautiful buildings and being surrounded by nature. Not to mention the amazing reputation that the university has.
Why did you choose to study this degree?
The broad nature of the programme really appealed to me - the fact that it was 'language education' not 'teaching English', meant that it would leave doors open to potentially teaching Spanish in the future. I also liked the idea that I could learn about myself as a learner of languages, not just as a teacher of languages.
What did you enjoy most about the programme?
What I enjoyed most was the group discussions during workshops. The diversity of the students on this course meant that I heard invaluable perspectives about language education all over the world. I felt like an information sponge during those discussions, and I found it fascinating to hear other experiences and opinions, as I previously only knew about the UK/Spanish systems and learning formats.
What specific skills did you develop?
The most important skill I developed was the ability to be critical of my own preconceptions. As an English teacher with 2 years of experience, I had quite firm beliefs about the best ways to teach a language. While our experiences and beliefs should not be discounted, it is always possible to have our minds changed when faced with global trends and academic research.
What was the most useful thing you learned in your lectures, workshops and tutorials?
I learnt that language education is never one-size-fits-all. Understanding the learning/teaching context is vital.
Why would you recommend the programme to others?
I would recommend the programme because of how it looks at Language Education through a global, societal lens. I really enjoyed the diversity of the programme and being able to discuss the issues from diverse perspectives and opinions. It really helped me to be critical when writing my assignments.
In what way do you think the degree will contribute to your career?
There is so much that I have taken away from this degree. The most important thing was my dissertation. I designed a speaking challenge via WhatsApp voice messaging for my project, which I have now used twice since then for my real-life teaching. I am also much more sensitive to the issues surrounding the role of English around the world, particularly in terms of damage to minority languages and native speakerism.
What advice would you give to someone considering studying this programme at Edinburgh?
Firstly, do it! Secondly, speak up! We all benefit from the discussions during workshops and everyone’s contribution is important, no matter how much teaching experience you have. Your experience as a learner of languages is also important.
What is your current role or occupation?
I'm currently an English teacher to speakers of Spanish.
How did your experience at Edinburgh help you get where you are today?
The course inspired me to create a social media presence where I teach English to Spanish learners. Lots of people now follow me and request classes, in part because of the knowledge I share there, which has mostly come from the master’s.
What advice would you have for someone looking to work in your industry?
Always be open to learn new things and adjust your views based on new information.