25 February 2020

Meet UEA’s MA Second Language Education alumni

In this post, we look at the MA Second Language Education degree in the UEA School of Education and Lifelong Learning. These four graduates tell us about their experiences.

Being surrounded by a culturally diverse academic environment enriched my whole experience in the programme

ELIANA PINEDA (COLOMBIA)

I chose to be part of the MA Second Language Education programme given my interest in languages in general but more specifically in research related to the socio-cultural context in which languages are taught. The programme was ideal in that it offered a wide range of modules that strengthened my understanding of the topic.

I funded my course through a loan-scholarship program offered by the Colombian sponsor Colfuturo. Getting the funding was a challenge since Colfuturo only provides help to outstanding students who can demonstrate their aptitude through a strict application process.

Being a postgraduate student at UEA was an opportunity to acquire important skills such as autonomy as a researcher and student, and a strong sense of responsibility and involvement in the learning context. There were some big challenges during my studies, especially related to the research knowledge one needs in order to develop a comprehensive research proposal. However, the instruction on research provided by the School of Education and Lifelong Learning was a good outset to improve this.

The best thing about being a postgraduate student was undoubtedly the opportunity to develop my own research based on the guidance and supervision from the excellent professors at UEA. Also, being surrounded by a culturally diverse academic environment enriched my whole experience in the programme. Having completed my Master’s, I am willing to continue my research at the doctoral level and expand my knowledge about intercultural education.

TINGTING LIU (DAISY) (CHINA)

I love learning English and I like to speak it and communicate with different people. I read many English books when I was young, but most of these were translated and I thought I was losing the original meanings in translation.

There are more assignments in the UK than in China, but, at UEA, our teachers give us advice, encouragement and support when we want do our own research. This is really motivating!

ROBERT SAKHRANI (UK)

I chose to study an MA at UEA because I was interested in adding a research element to complement the practical experience I had gained working abroad as a language teacher. The MA Second Language Education at UEA covers a broad range of modules that offer an interesting and original theoretical aspect to the research dissertation as well as teaching vital research skills of critically reading journals and research methods. I chose to self-fund the course, but there were other options available for assisted support.

I would describe the main differences between undergraduate and postgraduate study as involving a lot more freedom, being much more independently driven, with the emphasis on you to work individually and explore the reading list each week to fully benefit and enrich the learning gained in your contact teaching hours.

One challenge of being a postgraduate is having to work on a number of different assignments all at the same time. Good time management, self-discipline and multitasking abilities are crucial! The best thing about being a postgraduate student is being in charge of the direction of your own research project and being able to specialise in an area that you are particularly interested in within your chosen field. I would also add studying in a multicultural environment and getting to meet classmates from all over the world.

After graduating from my course, I am planning to take my own research interests further in applying for a PhD for further study at UEA. For someone considering postgraduate study, I would advise them to research carefully into the field of study they are looking to pursue, including how it will benefit their career in the future. Look into funding opportunities available in your field of study and speak to people who have studied the same area as you. Try to prepare by thinking about potential research topics by doing some research and reading around the topic. Be prepared for the challenge and to leave your comfort zone to make the most out of what is a fulfilling year.

YIRAN YIN (CHARLI) (CHINA)

I chose Second Language Education because of my language-based undergraduate academic background, and because I realise that learning a language is essential for modern students.

Postgraduate students need to learn independently and have critical thinking skills. Our supervisors offer advice, and postgraduate students continue to learn and adjust by practicing their research. The workload at Master’s level is manageable because classes are timetabled reasonably and assignments are well planned.

For me, the most memorable parts of the degree was doing real research and learning a subject in-depth. After I finish my course, I will be looking for a doctoral programme.