Doing an M.A. in TESOL by Mary Ritchie

My name is Mary Ritchie, and at 48 years old I’m probably the oldest person to have completed the M.A. in TESOL at Swansea University!

Before studying at Swansea University I worked as a Speech and Language Therapist in Scotland for 9 years.  In the year 2000 my husband and I moved to the Philippines in South East Asia and stayed there for 12 years working as Christian missionaries.  There I was responsible for an orphanage and also ran a pre-school and elementary school catering for 500 children.  I had completed the certificate in TESOL before going to the Philippines and used these skills every day, along with my experience gained from working as a Speech and Language Therapist.

I returned to the UK with my husband and two children in 2012 and we settled in Swansea. I felt it was time for me to do something slightly different, although related to Speech and Language Therapy. Having looked at a number of different courses, I decided to apply for the M.A. in TESOL at Swansea University.  Part of the appeal for me was the fact that the course was flexible and allowed me to study part time over 3 years. This was great. I meant I could actually attend the university and not just study online, which is better for making friends.  I was a student from September 2014 up to October 2017.

I really counted it a privilege to study at Swansea University.  I cannot really compare it to my undergraduate degree at Glasgow University.  Maybe at undergraduate level I was too young to appreciate the privilege of being able to study. However, this time I was very aware of the opportunity I had been given.

My Masters was a taught one, so I completed six modules and a portfolio.  Some of the modules I completed were on Vocabulary, Discourse Analysis and Second Language Acquisition, and the portfolio was divided into three sections on assessing learners, evaluating teaching materials, and on testing and assessment.

The support from the lecturers was excellent. They treated all the students with respect and really encouraged us to investigate and explore for ourselves, while giving us all the support we needed.  I loved all the lectures.  In fact, I loved the learning, but wasn’t so keen on the exams and assignments!! The most challenging times for me were having to complete assignments before Christmas, house moves, holidays and Easter!

I loved University life and the library became a safe hiding place for me.  The added bonus of having a Costa Coffee there was a huge attraction/distraction and motivator.  I miss it greatly!

All the lecturers were great, but Fiona Hardy has to get a special mention from me.  Without her support I seriously would have never finished!  It was because of her encouragement that my best moment occurred on the 2nd of October 2017 when I handed in my portfolio.  The relief was overwhelming and I have already forgotten the pressure of getting it finished!

I would wholeheartedly recommend the M.A. TESOL at Swansea University to anyone. I loved my time there and really miss it.  Doing the course has increased my confidence in teaching English, and I am teaching a number of Chinese students who are studying A-Level courses.  As Swansea is a designated City of Sanctuary in the UK, the opportunities to help others and teach English to asylum seekers and refugees are limitless.  So, I am excited about the future and am looking forward to the opportunities ahead.

Thank you Swansea University and thank you to all the lecturers: Professor Jim Milton, Dr Federica Barbieri, Dr Cornelia Tschichold, Dr Vivienne Rogers, Mrs Fiona Hardy and Mr Peter Neville.  I appreciate you all so much.