After the dust had settled: exams done and graduation celebrated, I had a chance to catch up with finalist and now post-graduate student, Lauren Jones.
Lauren recently graduated with a first degree in English Language and is going on to do the MA TESOL here at Swansea. She kindly took time out of her well-earned rest to talk to me about her third year experience.
What was your degree programme?
It was BA (Hons) English Language
What do you love about language?
Language is incredible! We all use it every day in some form or another and yet we rarely ever stop to think about it. I love researching and studying it, particularly modules on its history, how the brain produces and processes language, and also how language is taught.
What were your expectations when you came (if you can remember) and have they largely been met?
My expectations were that the degree programme would be similar to the aspects of language I studied at college and secondary school (of course in more detail) in which were indeed met. However, my expectations were totally exceeded in what was really offered by the course. Elements of the course were scientific (e.g. language acquisition) and also historical (e.g. studying the history of the English language) which were never really explored at school, or college. The diversity in modules is what I loved most about this degree programme.
What have you enjoyed most about your degree at Swansea?
Although thoroughly enjoying the academic side of my degree at Swansea, I have also loved meeting and bonding with fellow students. Additionally, I have benefitted getting to know academic staff and finding out about their research.
What have you found most difficult about the degree?
I think I found completing my dissertation probably the hardest (but most rewarding) part of my degree due to the great amount of work involved.
How has the workload been over the years? What were your coping strategies?
The workload definitely increased as the years go by, and the transition from first to second year was the hardest for me. Time management is the key to coping, and also having the willpower to refuse a night out, or a social, when you know you have an essay or assignment fast approaching!
What would you recommend about doing a degree in English Language at Swansea University?
I think what I would recommend most would be the staff. The modules they provide are wonderful, and of such great variety, and their own academic research is truly inspiring. Staff are always on hand to help either via email or during their office hours.
What was the most interesting area within the discipline that you would recommend to other students?
All modules within the degree were extremely fascinating but personally, I thoroughly enjoyed: TEFL, A History of the English Language, Dialectology, Psycholinguistics and Discourse Analysis.
What plans do you have for after your degree?
I am continuing my studies at Swansea University and will be undertaking a Masters in ‘Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages’ (MA TESOL).
What tips do you have for 2nd years, worried about their final year?
My advice would be to not put too much pressure on yourself but always complete every piece of work to the best of your ability. Third year can be daunting and you must continuously work hard. Make sure you complete all the readings staff set, and any seminar or class preparation, as such work is always helpful for final assignments.
What was your dissertation topic?
I completed my dissertation under the supervision of Dr. Alexia Bowler in the subject of language, gender and the media. My dissertation topic was investigating the use of expletive language by males and females in reality television.
What did you find hard/interesting about your dissertation topic?
I think the hardest part of my dissertation was deciding on what I wanted to investigate specifically due to the endless research possibilities that this topic throws up! It was hard to choose a specific focus that wasn’t too large; it’s very easy to get carried away and forget to set realistic goals. The most interesting part of my dissertation topic was investigating how males and females use expletive language within contemporary discourse, as many studies exploring the relationship between sex of speaker and expletives were rather old and outdated. I felt that exploring a modern corpus was paramount to provide a comparison of results to older studies [interviewer’s note: she was very good at finding materials…].
How did you prepare for the dissertation?
The best preparation for any dissertation is to read as much around the topic as you possibly can; the more you read the more comparisons you will have to draw upon and discuss. Also, we completed dissertation proposals in presentation form in which we were graded on, and feedback was provided. I also found that reading other dissertations on iFind and Google Scholar good preparation in terms of structure and layout of the dissertation.
What did you learn about yourself during your dissertation topic?
I learnt to have more faith in myself and to trust my own decisions.
How do you think the English language degree at Swansea has prepared you for life after university?
It’s prepared me academically to pursue further study and undertake my MA degree. It’s also helped me socially through gaining confidence meeting various staff members and fellow students.