International student Afina knew that studying the Master of TESOL with the Faculty of Education was right for her when she saw how students from different cultures and backgrounds worked in harmony here. After completing her degree, Afina reflects on how the masters has shaped her successful career which followed.
Q: Why did you choose to study at the Faculty of Education?
I visited Melbourne a few years prior to enrolling myself in the Faculty of Education, when I was still an undergraduate student. I still remember walking by the school where I saw a group of students sitting near the school discussing an assignment, I assume. I could see that the group consisted of students coming from different backgrounds, cultures and practices and they were seated together completing the work. I felt that the school really embraced differences and unified people from all over the world. I could see that I would be welcomed and valued in the community.
Q: What did you enjoy studying at the Faculty of Education?
I enjoyed my journey with the Faculty of Education. Personally, the major strengths of the schools are the quality of the academic staff and also the curriculum structure of the course. The academic staff are committed and passionate - helping us achieving our goals and also enhancing our teaching practices. The programme is structured to ensure graduates are well-prepared to walk into the classroom and cater to the needs of their students.
Q: Why did you choose to study Master of TESOL?
It has always been my ambition to be a teacher, mainly to help people. I was already a teacher after my undergraduate study but I wished to seek more knowledge in the pedagogy and curriculum aspect of teaching instead of just focusing on delivery. Also, I wanted to have an advanced theoretical understanding and knowledge of current research and practices in education from a multidisciplinary and global perspective that would be applicable in my teaching career.
Q: What was the most rewarding aspect of Master of TESOL?
What I loved most about being a student in the Faculty was the community that I was in. My classmates were English language teachers coming from different countries, backgrounds and range of experiences and that was one of the valuable aspects that I personally believe I could not find elsewhere. It was an eye-opening journey for me as I reflected on my current practice when it was being compared to other teachers who were also teaching the same language in their respective countries. Some of the tasks were collaborative work and it allowed us to discuss and compare the realities of teaching in different perspectives. It also allowed me to refine the approaches and methodologies that I was formerly exposed to and think about how they could be done differently.
Q: What's your current work like now?
I am currently teaching English language teacher candidates who are expected to teach in primary and secondary schools in Malaysia at University of Selangor (UNISEL). One of the projects that I recently worked on with my students was a language camp. For the camp, I brought my students to one of the rural areas in Malaysia where the exposure of the language is quite limited, as the community does not really practice the language compared to Malaysian major cities. I gathered my students and we studied the background of the students, assembling the materials and also developing many activities that we could do with the underprivileged kids in the area.
I put high emphasis on making sure that my teachers are collaborative and reflective, something that I learned dearly in Melbourne. I really hope that they will be wonderful practitioners who master the art of teaching in the future.
Q: Can you describe how your degree has contributed to your career development?
The Master of TESOL has developed my career in a very significant way. I am currently teaching in a university and I have shifted from teaching content English to teaching in the Faculty of Education and Social Sciences. To be honest, I am the youngest lecturer in the faculty and most of my colleagues are twice my age!
I am glad that the qualification that I obtained from the University of Melbourne has pushed me to be where I am right now. Not only do I have the opportunity to help my students to learn English, but now I am able to teach my students how to teach English in schools. I am able to discuss the current pedagogical realities, practices and policies with my students to help them manage the language curricula in the future. I am grateful to be in the position to offer more to my society and the chance to contribute not only to my students, but also to the future learners of my students.
Q: What do you hope is the next step in your life/career?
I hope to have my PhD in the future. Currently, I am still grasping and collecting personal data for my research. I know the theories of teaching are always reformulated in accordance with current changes and to be a teacher, I should always develop and advance my teaching so that I will provide only the best for my learners. The University of Melbourne will always be my choice when it comes to this!
Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking about pursuing a career in TESOL?
If you are a teacher, future teacher or someone who wants to embark on their journey in teaching English, Master of TESOL is the right course for you. The course prepares you to become a teacher who is driven, passionate and innovative.
Q: What would you say to students who are thinking about studying your program at The University of Melbourne?
The University of Melbourne is ranked among the leading institutions in the world. It puts high emphasis on teaching, learning, leadership, innovation and also research and this is very pertinent in developing your career. It allows you to reflect in-depth on your life goals with the help of passionate academic staff who are very supportive and stimulating in a professional environment. It would definitely accelerate your career with a strong industry qualification.