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Ghost of Jemma Present & Future

January 6, 2012

Firstly, Happy New Year!! Welcome to 2012!

I’m back in Germany after a gloriously long Christmas break back in the UK and am ready to look forward to what 2012 will hold for me.

If you read my last post you may remember that I had a rather self-obsessed end to the year having received this quote from a yoga magazine I am subscribed to online:

“During cold-weather months, underneath the bustle of the holidays, the Earth is preparing in the northern hemisphere for a long period of inner stillness before the rebirth of spring. The closing of the year elicits contemplation: What has transpired? Where are we headed? What is left undone?”

In this post I plan to tackle the last two questions in this quote.

So, to continue – Where are we headed?

I see 2012 as a year of big changes. I have been looking for a new job back in the UK as a teacher/teacher trainer and my hope was to have something organised by IATEFL-time.

Moving back to the UK could seem to some as a step back to a previous life, but for me it means returning to a context that I find preferable to the one I am currently working in. I started my career in the UK working with multilingual classes in a private language school. The students’ sole reason for being there was to learn English (and to lap up some English culture/party!). They were therefore free of the distractions of the pile of work on their desks, or their phone ringing during the lesson and having to deal with a sudden work-related issue, or simply being knackered after a long day of work and a rush-hour journey to get to the school on time, which is the reality for most of my current students.

Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching in-companies or business clients who need English for their jobs. I also know that there are other distractions specific to the types of learners you find in such UK-based classes. But I also miss teaching groups of learners who are in the school every day for at least a few hours. This continuity and the amount of face-to-face time you get with the students enhances progress and therefore, as a teacher in this context, I found it more rewarding. I think it’s one reason why I have loved teaching on the Celta so much, because you see the trainees everyday and you work closely with them, albeit for just one month.

I hope to find a new position where I can continue to develop and learn from my colleagues as I have been so fortunate to do over my career so far. I hope to be able to take on responsibilities in helping my colleagues develop too, by giving more TD workshops and perhaps being part of a mentoring scheme. I thoroughly enjoy giving workshops and helping colleagues out. Sharing ideas with my existing colleagues helps me to expand and define my knowledge and ideas, much like writing this blog and being on Twitter does.

It has also been great to see some of the Celta-graduates from recent courses become my colleagues and see our working relationship develop as they attend my TD workshops as teachers, rather than trainees. Or to have staffroom discussions with them as colleagues, free of the different pressures of the Celta course.

And finally – What is left undone? 

What a question! SO much. Here’s a couple of things nearer the top of the list –

1. A Master’s. There’s been some interesting discussion going around recently about whether it’s “worth it”. I think it depends on the reasons for doing it. There are some great bloggers out there who discuss their master’s courses and seem to be getting a lot from it. E.g. Dave Dodgson and Tyson Seburn to name but a couple.  For me, if I were to do the Applied Linguistics Master’s, it would be to increase my working knowledge in order to improve my classroom practice. I am aware that it is unlikely to make me more employable, but it would hopefully make me better at my job. A master’s in TESOL would mean the possibility to move into a more managerial role, which is not where I want to head just yet, but perhaps I will later down the line?

I have also been harbouring an interest for Forensic Linguistics for a few years. (If you aren’t sure what that is, Scott Thornbury usefully included it on his blog late last year – read the post here.) A master’s in that would quell my desire to learn more about it, but would I really want to ever do it as a job?! I’m not sure that I would ever want to completely exchange the classroom for a life spent at a desk analysing text.

2. I had just started to write that I felt I need to do more reading. I then realised that by “reading” I was thinking purely of published work, such as books and journals. However, I do read a lot: I wouldn’t like to guess how much time I spend reading the blogs from my PLN, but it’s a lot. Sometimes (such as now after the Christmas break), it can be overwhelming how much there is to read! Yes, published work has its place, but I feel I can engage more with what you guys out there are saying and sharing. (That’s one thing ticked off the list already! Excellent.)

3. Speak at a conference. Yes, I want to. No, I have never put in a proposal. Yes, that’s silly of me. 2012 may change that. I just need to think of something to talk about…! Watch this space.

And that’s my self-centred ramblings completed. Thanks for reading this far, and, again, thank you for being part of my professional development. I look forward to working with you and hopefully meeting some of you over the coming year.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. January 6, 2012 10:09 am

    Nice to see your desires and ponderings about the year. I hope you have great success!

  2. January 6, 2012 10:29 am

    Nice to hear what you have planned. I saw there are some short online courses on that Forensic Linguistics site that sound interesting. Very tempting.

    As UK tuition rises more and more unis will be offering distance MA while some are also running their courses abroad. This increased competition should mean prices will fall but so many quality.I saw one where you could do a dissertation, a course or a portfolio for the final part. I’m sure this will catch on so eventually you’ll be able to do 9 courses for an MA, or 6 if you have the DELTA.

    Whatever the subject an MA is essential nowadays. In Asia and here in France most students have them. Many French schools actually combine the BA+MA so when you graduate you have both. Back in my day we did 4 year BA(hon) courses and couldn’t face another year of the same stuff but now that fees are ridiculous we all we wish we’d done them back then.

    In China everyone has an MA so it is given and will not be a deciding factor in your job hunt and as many do them abroad that doesn’t work either so then you need good experience. What I do like in France is that many schools combine the BA/MA with work placements (about 3) so when students graduate they often have a job already. The only issue I can see is that they don’t get as many courses as in other places but so be it.

    • January 6, 2012 10:42 am

      Hi Phil! Thanks for your comment.

      How about we do one of those short courses at the same time? Study buddies?!! 🙂

      Yes, MA courses have become the norm in Germany too. It’s no bad thing to have higher standards of education, as long as those standard actually are higher and aren’t priced out of most people’s price bracket. Funding is my main problem, and I am sure it is most other people’s too.

      I sometimes wish I had done a master’s earlier, but then I don’t think I would have been able to do it as well as I would hope could do now. Experience and age help, I think. Doing and MA following my BA would have probably resulted in disaster! Although I might have secured a job quicker, but would I really be any better at what I do? Not sure..

      I look forward to finding out what decision I make in terms of MA, because at the moment I am really not sure!


  3. January 6, 2012 12:35 pm

    As the quote from my latest post goes, where there is no struggle, there is no progress. But it can be hard to work out what to prioritise, and everything always takes so long! Good luck in 2012.

    • January 6, 2012 5:06 pm

      Thanks David!

      I really like that quote about struggle and progress. It makes sense. And I am always up for a bit of a struggle if it means I will learn something in the end!

      Good luck to you in 2012 too, whatever it may bring!

  4. January 6, 2012 7:33 pm

    Hi Jemma,

    For me, the MA really has helped a lot with my classroom practice. I think I’m a lot more aware of the language learning process, which in turn means I’m more patient in class. It’s also given me the willingness to experiment and the ability to reflect and grow in a much deeper way than I did before. It’s hard work but it is worth it.

    • January 7, 2012 5:01 am

      I can’t wait to have that feeling. =) I am grateful for the MA learning process though and eventual result.

      Jemma, have a great 2012 and good luck with your decision-making.

      • January 7, 2012 10:19 am

        Hi Ty!

        Thanks for stopping by! When do you finish your MA? I’m sure that feeling will come, just be patient! 🙂

        Happy 2012, and may all your wishes come true! Especially any MA related ones!

    • January 7, 2012 10:18 am

      Hi Dave,

      Thanks for commenting! What you mention is exactly what I would want to get out of doing am MA – to become better at my job through a deeper understanding of the whole process. I guess it just depends which process I want to have a deeper understanding of… We shall see!

      Hard work, I’ve found, is always worth it. Something that it took me a while to learn though!

      Good luck with it all Dave!

  5. January 7, 2012 12:15 pm

    Best of luck with those plans!
    I hope you do present ina conference! I think it can be a meaningful experience!
    Will watch this space to see what happpens next!

  6. January 7, 2012 12:30 pm

    Hi Naomi,

    Thanks for your comment, hope to meet you on the conference circuit one day!

    I have been meaning to comment over at your blog for days. I will get over there after breakfast!


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