Alumni Fest 2018: Meet Sahar!

“enjoy the facilities and opportunities that King’s provide…use the different resources online and at its fantastic libraries, absorb as much as you can from the extremely knowledgeable tutors of each modules, watch as many training videos as you can…and above all enjoy London!”

This is Sahar Alshobaki, a former student at King’s College London. I studied an MA in TESOL in 2016/2017 which was a perfect milestone to me, moving every step toward better routes after that.

I went back home nearly after a month of my dissertation submission. It took me a while until I got my first job in Palestine. The first job, after I went back, was one of the greatest opportunities that I am proud to be part of. It was a project between the Islamic University, Palestine and University of Glasgow, United Kingdom. The project was about developing an Arabic course for beginners for non-native speakers, called later “Arabic from Palestine”. During all face-to-face meetings in Gaza and the screen-to-screen meetings with Glasgow team via Skype, we developed a new course based on one of the recent approaches, capabilities approach, taking into consideration the environment of our course which is online. Thus, everything was digitised to serve this platform of teaching. While we had all the discussions regarding developing this course, I believe the MA helped me to think more critically about developing materials even though it is in a different language, my mother tongue i.e. Arabic.

“[The MA was] a perfect milestone to me, moving every step toward better routes after that.”

Moreover, I believe the utmost benefit of the MA was when I worked at the University of Palestine as a lecturer and at the Islamic university as an English trainer, a few months later. In the former job, I taught two modules, Writing and TEFL. Regarding writing, I still remember my MA teacher’s advice in English for Academic purposes modules when he said the best corpus you could provide to your students is your students’ writing…let them see their writing, figure out where the mistakes are, and solve them together. The same idea was enhanced during the academic writing sessions at King’s for TESOL students where we were given examples of high and low scored samples of writing and say why each of them might get a certain score. I used the same way with my students and I saw promising results in that course.  According to teaching TEFL, it was like a piece of cake to me. I had all the resources, websites, and materials from the MA which facilitated planning my classes in a way that I wanted to see a long time ago. I shared with my students some of the articles I read while doing my MA, elaborated my points by giving examples from the CELTA course, had more discussions with students, making it livelier and more debatable in each class rather than depending on a lecturing style.

I could not be more thankful for my MA experience at that time. My gratitude has grown greater when I started giving general English courses for adults within Alfakhora scholarship program to develop university students’ English skills. In that experience, I tried to apply some of the approaches in my classes such as communicative language approach, particularly, when the tasks are related to daily life conversations as well as applying self-discovery method for teaching the new grammatical items, new vocabulary and for phonetics-related tips. In this way, students notice the structure of each item and then elicit the rules themselves, making it more memorable and easier to recognize whenever they see the same structure elsewhere. I also used loads of problem-solving and information gap activities in all my teaching experiences, leading students to participate more and be active agents in their own language learning experience.

Being a graduate in a context of forced immobility and restrictions and due to the high rate of unemployment in Gaza strip, I thought it would be very difficult to have a job (and it was at first few months), but then everything changed. Later, I was working in three jobs at three different places at the same time and those were my happiest moments back in Gaza, being busy and getting most of what I learned in the UK out in my context. Two of the jobs were not actually reasonably well paid, but I enjoyed working in them and developing my experiences to a new level. No matter how long hours I might have spent in each one to get the job done, it was all about learning and gaining more sights in such jobs which I believe these new skills will pave the way towards my future endeavours. Therefore, I believe things just need time, so my suggestion for the new graduates is to keep searching for a job and apply to all places you think you are a perfect fit for their jobs, leave your CV and have enough patience for the waiting time to receive a call-back. At the same time, search for online jobs in freelancing websites, such as (Upwork, peopleperhour and Freelancer), as it is always a good option to start, especially in Gaza!

“…keep searching for a job and apply to all places you think you are a perfect fit for their jobs, leave your CV and have enough patience for the waiting time to receive a call-back.”

Indeed, I believe the MA along with the CELTA has enabled me to acquire a whole new set of ideas, thoughts, and research and practical skills that prepared me well to critically engage in each one of my jobs afterward and reflecting on my own teaching/designing materials all the way long. In addition, having learned the basic research skills helped me to seek my next step in the research field doing my MPhil/PhD in linguistics now.

My advice for current students of this MA is to enjoy the facilities and opportunities that King’s provide (some of which I wish I had known while I was a student there such as AKC and summer courses), use the different resources online and at its fantastic libraries, absorb as much as you can from the extremely knowledgeable tutors of each modules, watch as many training videos as you can at the International House to help you be more creative with your teaching in the CELTA and afterwards, and above all enjoy London! This might be an opportunity that comes in a lifetime, so never miss the events and the hustle and bustle of this crazy wonderful city. Make friends and go around London and discover other cities and countries together. This what makes your experiences worth remembering, of course along with your studies.

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

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