Jia-yuan Meng, MSc TESOL 2019
'The year I spent in completing the programme has brought me a lot of unforgettable experiences and memories. Those informative lectures, inspiring workshop discussions, practical microteaching, intensive literature reading and essay writing, all have helped to build up my confidence in my future teaching and research.'
Why did you choose to study at the University of Edinburgh?
The University of Edinburgh has a world-wide reputation for teaching quality and academic achievements. Many alumni from my previous university, who have already finished their Master’s study here, highly recommended the University of Edinburgh. One of them told me that I would have no regrets if I chose the University to pursue my Master’s degree because it is a lovely university in a lovely city. He compared Edinburgh to Xi’an, a lively city with a rich historical heritage in Northwest China. I fell in love with Xi’an the very first time I visited the city, so I believed I would also enjoy my studies and life at the best university in Edinburgh.
Why did you choose to study this degree?
I studied translation and interpreting in my previous university, during which I gradually found my interest in teaching English and working with children and teenagers. In order to become a qualified English teacher, I thought I need more theoretical and practical preparation in this field in addition to my Bachelor’s study. MSc TESOL at Edinburgh offers a wide range of compulsory and optional courses, which I believed would allow me to gain more knowledge about teaching English to Chinese learners. That’s one of the main reasons why I chose this degree. What’s more, achieving a Master’s degree in a world-wide top 20 university will provide me with a competitive advantage when I apply for a PhD, if I consider doing so in the future.
What did you enjoy most about the programme?
Lecturers and workshop tutors of our programme are very diverse and international, not only in their nationalities but also their work experiences and research contexts, which has provided me with a broader view of what TESOL looks like - how to teach English to speakers of different first languages in different countries. This was particularly impressive during Semester 2 when we were having workshop discussions in our optional courses. Like-minded students and tutors gathered together bringing interesting stories and perspectives from each other’s context - China, France, Greece, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, Poland, Romania, Vietnam, etc. - into the classroom. It was not only a fruitful process of learning from others but also an unforgettable experience of intercultural communication.
What specific skills did you develop?
A one-year Master’s programme entails quite a lot of intensive academic input and output, which is very challenging, admittedly, but meanwhile, surprisingly enjoyable for me. I have developed skills in effective reading, critical thinking, academic writing, planning a lesson, and designing TESOL teaching materials. Some of these skills are essential for doing research, and some for teaching practice.
What was the most useful thing you learned in your lectures, workshops and tutorials?
Most of what I have gained from this year’s learning is about developing awareness - knowing what needs to be taken into consideration when I am trying to make an informed decision. For example, two of my courses’ final assessment involved a lesson plan. Before that, the contents of lectures and tasks of workshops, as well as advice from tutors, prepared me to finish a lesson plan on my own. In this process, I understood the importance of needs analysis, of selecting appropriate language learning and teaching theories as guidance, and of contextualisation of existing sources, which I believe will be very helpful in my future teaching work.
Why would you recommend the programme to others?
Studying here, you can make friends with tutors and classmates from all over the world, gain more knowledge about language learning and teaching, form the habit of critical thinking and exercise your academic writing 'muscle'. The wide range of courses available on the MSc TESOL programme allows students to identify and develop their own interest. Intensive compulsory courses in Semester 1 lead novice Master’s students into the field of TESOL, laying the foundations for both theoretical study and teaching practice. Later on, students are able to choose what courses they are especially interested in to go into depth in Semester 2. Courses and lectures about doing research run through all the three semesters, which aims to train students to become a critical independent researcher. Such a programme structure is comprehensive enough to develop students’ teaching and research competence.
In what way do you think the degree will contribute to your career?
In China, a Master’s degree is one of the basic requirements for a teaching post in high schools in big cities. A Master’s degree gained from this University, a global top one, will definitely be one of the highlights in my curriculum vitae. Most importantly, the year I spent in completing the programme has brought me a lot of unforgettable experiences and memories. Those informative lectures, inspiring workshop discussions, practical microteaching, intensive literature reading and essay writing, all have helped to build up my confidence in my future teaching and research.
What advice would you give to someone considering studying this programme at Edinburgh?
If you want to study MSc TESOL at Edinburgh, then read the programme description carefully, get yourself prepared and apply earlier! Don’t miss out on the application for a scholarship if you are eligible! Take advantage of every single opportunity that you are given to carry out group work, raise questions, meet your tutors and give course feedback. Finally yet importantly, attend the various kinds of open lectures given by other departments and schools if you have interest, which will surprisingly broaden your horizon! Choose what you like, and you will love what you devote yourself to.