Darrell Healy is currently studying the MA TESOL here at UL. Darrell gives his perspective on studying in UL and his experience of the course so far.
What made you study at UL?
I was looking at courses in TESOL and the one in UL seemed appropriate for what I was looking for. I liked the module outline and after an interview with the head of department I knew it was the right course for me.
I liked the module outline and after an interview with the head of department I knew it was the right course for me
Can you take us through a typical week on the MA programme?
There are a number of lectures during the week, ranging from language systems, to pedagogy, to teaching practice. A week would involve lectures and assignments, preparing for presentations, especially this semester. For teaching practice, we meet together and plan our lessons and strategies for the following week. We also do reflective practice, where we meet with our supervisors after we’re taught and discussed how the lessons went and make strategies moving forward. It’s quite a busy week in total.
What was your favourite topic or subject that you studied on the programme?
There’s actually quite a broad range of subjects that are covered. Initially, my favourite topic is language systems as there’s always room to improve grammar. The Professors are very patient with us and guiding us through the course content. I think it’s a challenging area but I’ve enjoyed learning more about it and I’m feeling a lot more confident in my teaching because of that.
The Professors are very patient with us and guiding us through the course content
Can you describe your experience of the programme and how it enhanced your own teaching skills?
It enhanced my own teaching skills because it covers all areas in pedagogy. It’s sort of surgical in its focus dealing with all aspects of teaching, from the teacher itself identity, to the students and to the why and how of education. It’s been a very good reflective endeavour in that way. We’re given a lot of support and we have supervisors observing us when we teach. We’re getting expert feedback and support from PhD students and department heads, so it really helps in my progression as a teacher, in my opinion.
What are the benefits and challenges of completing the MA TESOL?
The benefits include the fact it’s geared more towards teaching at third level. Having this MA TESOL which is something that is required from a lot of universities as a starting point. Also, to have a year of teaching practice done along with a year of teaching Erasmus students at university level is definitely a benefit moving forward.
There are a lot of mature students in this course and coming back to education in terms of academic writing and referencing and how its changed a lot is definitely a challenge. I’ve been out of this system about nine years, so things like that are difficult. There are classes on academic writing and peer writing services offered so it’s been a challenge but they do offer support for those who aren’t as fresh in third level.
Would you recommend the MA to others?
I would recommend the MA for those who would like to teach at third level, or for example, want to increase their chances of work in language schools. There are many language schools in Limerick and around the country. To maybe have a certificate or a SELTA is very good. Having an MA would probably put you to the head of the queue and would more than likely secure your chances of employment.
Having an MA would probably put you to the head of the queue and would more than likely secure your chances of employment
What do you plan to do/have done post-graduation?
There’s a Career Fair this semester aimed at education, so I was hoping to find more options for myself, moving forward from that. The head of department have also discussed possible sister universities that they work with which could help us with employment. Otherwise, there is the option of doing a PhD or teaching abroad. There are a lot of options up in the air for me at the moment, which is good. So far I haven’t decided.