Last week the My TEFL Journey massive got clued up on studying for a master’s degree in our favourite subject, TESOL. You can read that article here. Recently there has been much talk of attaining an MA in TESOL via distance-learning.
Ideas and opinions
EL Gazette, the TEFL industry’s freest, bestest monthly e-zine, reported this month on exactly that subject. 5 of the TEFL world’s top minds were interviewed to talk in baffling acronyms about MA TESOL, CELTA, DL and all that.
Among the salient points raised in that interview was Scott Thornbury’s remarks on the necessity of distance learning to be interactive and to encourage collaborations between students and faculty using such technologies as wikis, Skype, and PowerPoint.
Alec Pulverness followed up with a description of the NILE method, which involves both face-to-face tuition and relatively low-tech online learning (e-mail communicating etc.) to attain a suitable mix of flexibility and teacher-student interaction.
Creating a community
TEFL author and head of teacher development at Bell, Jim Scrivener, threw in his two cents with a rousing description of Bell’s courses. Lessons are dynamic, and new technology, such as Second Life, is being used to create a sense of community among distance learners. Scrivener also noted that exam results are actually higher among distance learning candidates due to the amount of time available for such things as exam practice.
Maureen McGarvey closed with some general comments on not being afraid of new technology but working with it to get the best results. She also highlights the advantages to working little and often rather than scheduling one big block of study on the weekends.
Courses in TEFL
From my personal experience as a former OU student, I’d have to agree with most of what was said. Distance learning has some massive advantages in terms of schedule flexibility and good use of time (no commuting etc.). It’s also encouraging to see course providers latching on to the latest internet features to improve the learning experience.
For anyone interested in studying for a distance learning post-graduate qualification in TESOL there are several options to consider.
Bell – Mentioned earlier in this article, Bell offers a distance-learning DELTA course
University of Birmingham – MA in TESOL by distance learning
University of Leeds – MA TESOL
I’d love to hear from someone who has taken an online PG TESOL qualification. Chip in your thoughts in the comments below.