Alumni Fest 2018: Meet Chris!

“I like the idea of the procedural plan – you have an overall framework for what you want to get out of the course, orientated by your aspirations and goals but leaving lots of space for new ideas and directions.”

Hi all its Chris deputy director of MA Applied Ling and ELT here. As an alumnus (class of 2008), I thought I’d add my two cents worth of wisdom about the MA programme.
Following the MA, I bounced the many ideas evolving from the theory and research I had encountered on the course around my classroom – some more successfully than others! The MA also opened doors to avenues of work that were previously closed – e.g. working as an IELTS examiner. In the end, I plumped for a research post at King’s on a project investigating risk communication about water contaminants. A fairly big jump from language teaching, but it is surprising how transferable the skills you develop as a teacher and linguist are to new domains. So, yes, it’s definitely possible to jump the ELT ship using your encounters on the MA as a springboard – whether it’s publishing, management, research or academia (to name the choices of a few people I know from the course).Eventually I did a PhD that drew together my language teaching and research backgrounds: investigating the role of language and culture in communicating about health risks in multi-ethnic communities. I am interested in how linguistic methodology (such as corpus linguistics) can be used to understand how people communicate about critical issues like natural disasters or disease, but also how language education, e.g. ESOL programmes, as linguacultural interfaces, can be drawn upon as way of mediating important warning and health messages cross-linguistically and cross-culturally. So, I suppose I’ve retained my interest in language education and SLA from the MA but now see everything through a new lens.

So what advice would I have for new students?
I like the idea of the procedural plan – you have an overall framework for what you want to get out of the course, orientated by your aspirations and goals but leaving lots of space for new ideas and directions. I seem  to remember I did have some initial rather vague goals at the start of the course, e.g. getting into teacher training or EAP, but as I went on I found I was more interested in things like discourse analysis and semantics.
So, I think it’s important to keep an open mind. I remember negotiating some of the assignment topics with the lecturers so I could read up on areas that seemed interesting but I knew nothing about. This also goes for choosing your optional modules and dissertation topic. Some people seemed to have a pre-formulated idea about what they were going to do – which is perfectly fine if you are passionate about it – but it’s worth keeping an open mind. You should actively seek out stuff that is completely new or that conflicts with previously held beliefs about language learning and teaching and engage with it.

Don’t forget that you can leave any questions for Chris below this post and he’ll answer them! 

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