Discussion in 'Qualifications & Courses' started by bahn_farang, 18 Dec 2016.
If there were an award for post of the year, then trnwrk has just made the winning contribution.
...and just in time!
I just got my Master's Degree and am heading back to the States for another.The second one will allow me to get the teacher's license I want. After that, I have no idea where I will teach. I am doing this for myself, my family, and all the students I will meet along the way.
Congratulations on your Masters Degree and the start of another!
How was the experience of doing your masters? any tips?
...also known as sternum to his friends .
My sincere apologies for my mistake, stfranalum.
Enjoyed this thread, some interesting points and comments. For what it's worth, here's my two baht worth:
I embarked on an M.Ed in Teaching and Technology with Assumption University here in Thailand a while ago (course details) and I've now just entered the thesis-writing stage, having completed all formal written assessments. Personally, I found it a life-changing experience, I devoured the material on offer and jumped at every opportunity for debate and discussion available. It changed my interpretation of, approach to, and appreciation of my role as a language 'enabler' here in Thailand.
The course is a distance learning course but there were many contact hours online via Cisco WebEx video conferencing software where we met to discuss material previously tagged for discussion, debates, project presentations and so on. Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience that offered many opportunities for personal reflection and the sharing of insightful perspectives with my fellow classmates.
As for its value outside of Thailand, well that's debatable - there's no such thing as 'bad' experience, all adds to one's inventory of knowledge and has an impact. Personally, I think it has value and no matter where I go and what I do it implies that I was willing to invest my time in furthering my skill set, at my own expense, during my own time, whilst juggling a demanding job and relationship. I've only been teaching ESL for 3+ years and I started my M.Ed midway through my second year. I also plan on doing an MA in TESOL or another variant of specific English language teaching (perhaps Eng for academic purposes). I'm currently thinking about the MA in ELT/TESOL with the University of Southampton in collaboration with the British Council, which is also a distance learning course. Surely, a combined M.Ed in Teaching/Tech and an MA in TESOL, plus >10 years corporate work in 2 int. investment banks, a degree in Library and Information Studies, excellent references, an impeccable record, and a neat and formal attire and presentation has to add up to something? I mean if not, then I'm wasting my time on this planet and I hereby tender my resignation to the human race. Hope is not a strategy as they say, but they also say to invest your passion in what you love and you shall be paid in kind... so I did. What are my options, to keep chasing my aspirations indefatigably? Or quit now, and submit to a lesser alternative - one I'll never master as my heart is found wanting? Being told "you can't do it, so don't try" makes me try even harder. I take on board all points of view, but I'm also careful not to let the naysayers deflate my own vision. Manifest destiny, and all that ;)
I also, like others on here, don't have the opportunity to return to full time education in my home country, it's just not possible. In light of this I can only play with the cards dealt. I appreciate the comments offered earlier about the 'sandpit' and the reservations there about online courses and MAs, but I personally think this stance is a bit outdated, nonsensical, and ridiculous, if I may say so. There's a hint of Luddite perspective on their part. We are now living in a networked / post industrial world. The information 'big bang' occurred a number of years ago and is still unfurling and changing the way we interact, live, disseminate information, and play out our daily lives. The web is embedded in the very fabric of contemporary existence - in fact it's fundamental to the very zeitgeist, and any educational institution that frowns on learning via a medium that may differ to traditional avenues needs a swift slap of a wet mackerel. Wake up and smell modernity. Their role in society is to celebrate the future, to anticipate paradigm shifts in society and technology, and adopt and adapt pedagogical standards and approaches to mold would-be students for this brave new world. Waving a dismissive hand at 'online' Master's degrees is a tad backward, and I frankly would not want to be part of such an institution anyway.
Let's put this into perspective: the web is the new frontier for academia. Educational institutions evolved from a scattering of philosophers perched on a rock at the crossroads, playing mind games with the hoi polloi, to the modern bastions of knowledge and scholars, marbled corridors, dusty tomes, and sprawling campuses. All achieved by the networking of minds, knowledge, and collective effort. Let's take that one step further and increase that network exponentially, both in audience headcount, crowd-sourcing ability, and resource sharing. Let's call it the hive mind. Is this not the logical next step in our academic and social evolution? Most academics appear to think so, consider 'Big Data' for example, or 'The Internet of Things'. For an education institution, stakeholder of said institution, or related government authority to scoff at the very network that supports these future projections is a glaring hypocrisy in the face of progression. Online banking was once-scoffed at, nobody is laughing now though. Travel agencies have had their day too, oh and last I looked record stores took a nosedive also.
I'm an early adopter and a technological optimist. We didn't put man on the moon by humming and hawing and choosing candlelight over a halogen bulb... Of course not all online learning is of merit, but as mentioned earlier, neither are all 'bums on seats' university courses either. A modicum of discernment is required, for sure. To dismiss a swathe of potential teaching candidates over their choice of seating (a seat in a lecture hall, or their bum on a sofa at home) is a most pathetic failure on the part of any institution. Hopefully this dinosaur model of thinking will fade in time.
My undergrad degree was completed in a physical university and one of the more prestigious in my country, whilst my current M.Ed is online via Assumption University in Thailand - now we all know which one sounds the poorer option on paper. Ironically, I much prefer the latter as there's less disturbance from the masses of idiots that talk through lectures, leave early, play candy crush on their phones.. and so on and so forth. Online learning cuts out the unnecessary wastage of commute time, unnecessary small talk in the corridor, the annoyance of infantile distractions, while streamlining learning content to a time and place of your choosing. My course also has a teaching practicum element whereby you are observed a number of times at your school - so one's actual teaching 'prowess' is also assessed. So it's not entirely online...
Apologies, I've meandered a little, suffice to say bahn_farang, in my humble opinion, you should go for it full steam ahead. I don't regret my decision one bit, I've never looked back. It's done wonders for my confidence, my curiosity, and my motivation to keep improving myself and up-skilling.
PS. Regarding the comment about investing $20K in stocks instead: once you've successfully completed your MA nothing can undo it or take it away from you. However, we all know the reputation of stability that stock markets have....
bahn faran- there was a program (i think it was St. Johns in pennsylvania) that offered a distance learning teacher's license. the trick was that you need to be able to do your practicum under the guidance of an officially licensed teacher.
i was going to enroll, but felt like the logistics of doing that made it too impractical as to be a waste of time.
i know a few teachers making a killing by teaching online in thailand. these are thai profs with a boatload of connections and as such, get other teachers to recommend their site. students pay for access to videos, which are not top of the line (putting it nicely). 100k a month kinda money, for just making some videos. thats some serious cha-ching.
if i were you (i'ts ok to dream ;-) ) then i would focus any study on how to make things more fun. more communicative, or more accurately, more conversational. in that sense, you will work your way through grammar, because developing grammar happens through a study of how to teach. what i would avoid would be deeper SLA stuff where you do deep structure kinda stuff and get all heady about linguistics. not that thats bad, but i assume you want this to pay off in better teaching immediately. my masters degree with research based and theoretical. it took me years to figure out how to manifest this into better teaching. other MA programs are more direct. we had little bits of "microteaching" (ha! i laugh even saying that) whereas other programs focus on real classroom work.
if a program doesnt directly take you - in a linear fashion- from learning X to doing X- then pass.
you can in fact earn a degree to accomplish something. there's that too. im just offering voice to the reality that it's a lot of money, and might be worth more than a year's salary, which if you don't have the money in the bank, might take years to pay back. if you're not going to get a better paying job out of it, and have to pay it back, and have a family or something, then you should honestly consider some self study, collaboration or something out of the box, because bro, The Box is where students get into serious debt with promises and dreams. it is an investment. and just doing it for learning purposes- its hard ot argue that thats way better than a couple of eyars spent studying online with the vast amount of stuff to read and watch online, not to mention the communities and such to be a part of. if you want to get engaged, it's already out there waiting and teeming with shit to find.
the advice i gave about an online MA being not as good is literally as fresh as it can get. im in charge of recruiting for 4 campuses and they have told me in no uncertain terms that they cannot accept them.
i also mentioned that this isn't across the board, but my own current experience. im dealing with this everyday. so just to quelch the "outdated" thing. it's just not the case. there is real money at stake (jobs that pay enough to save for your future) and if this guy ever wants to go work somewhere else, he should consider the fact that there are some places that will not even consider his diploma. and its not like they think its a Kao San Road degree, it's just that in the world of education, being in the classroom has advantages. and when defining what is an advantage or not, they do not consider people's personal stakes in it...aka...in your life and your situation, it works for you. thats all fine and good. really- thats awesome. but if a guy is going to shell out twenty thousand dollars, he should have an understanding of the limits of what he thinks it will bring in. if it's purely for his personal understanding....crikey!....then use the goddamn internet and just read away and learn. join groups and exchange papers. you can do that without spending crazy mad cash! you can IN FACT publish papers and send them in to journals and such. thats honestly a thing. you can join groups of people who are a community of teachers and scholars. ....if that is, it's just about the personal growth.
however, if you're going to pay an institution hard earned bucks, then you should "look a horse in the mouth" as the saying goes and clearly think about how that plays out. thailand doesnt give a toss about your higher ed degrees. your ass is out on the doorstep when you're 60. you're ass is out when you lose your temper. and literally anything in between is fine and dandy if you can sing and dance a jig. the growth to make yourself a better teacher is a journey that can be done for as little cost as your effort and dedication.
Thank you DigitalGypsy for the detailed post.
It is reassuring to hear of your positive experience doing your Masters and wish you all the best for the Thesis stage.
^ and the best to you bahn farang.
there are way worse in our profession than people looking to educate themselves. even if you dont go through with it, simply the desire to speaks volumes to how you are as an educator, and dare i say, person.
best of luck in your journey :-)
Firstly, many thanks for your insightful posts - keep them coming. You're a teacher on the ground there and can offer valuable information to those that are interested. I see the merit in all you have said and appreciate you taking the time out to post your thoughts. I'm also not jumping on the counterargument bandwagon, more playing devil's advocate to open up discussion on what is an extremely valid topic that all of us based in Thailand should be considering and discussing.
As for myself, I'm in my mid-thirties, no dependents as yet, no debts, but also without enough funds banked to see me through to my scrotum-faced days of old age. I also have a partner who is a Thai teacher along with the limited earning power that entails. Unfortunately returning home to study full time is not an option so I have to tackle the problem on my feet. My M.Ed is my first tentative step in doing so, and I mentioned an MA in TESOL also. I did a little research on the CELTA/DELTA path too which might be an option for me. Other than that it's an ongoing itch, and it hangs over my head on low days. The option of returning to my home country is not that better either - zero hour contracts in minimum wage roles are all that remains for most, my age would also go against me - I'd never get a mortgage, probably be discriminated against in the workplace, and would be completely out of sync with the lives of my peers. The outlook is bleak there and considering my age starting over would be a slow crawl to state pension and death as a singleton. How unbelievably dismal and depressing a picture is that to consider...
I hear what you're saying about your experiences in your part of the woods, but as you said that's just four campuses. What's the campus count in the teachable regions across the 'sandpit' ESL zone as a whole? Surely those four you cite are in a minority? Are they elite schools, creme de la creme institutions? What kind of teachers are we taking about - ESL teachers, or multi subject-specific teachers? I think these variables can add more depth to the discussion. What's your knowledge on the region as a whole? Are the schools you cater to just a little recalcitrant and more reluctant to embrace modern methods of study? Or do you feel this is a growing trend and one that will eventually set a standard overall? What's the teacher headcount for such an area across multiple countries etc etc. Referencing only those campuses that you have knowledge of offers a slight bias to the objective assessment of job potential. In saying this, I agree with you on advising bahn_farang about value for money, thinking goals through, and ensuring that his academic pursuits match his agenda. I think your advice on this is gold bullion. I say all this respectfully by the way, I'm glad you brought up your various points and insights and hope it continues henceforth. Please also add any other suggestions you have for self-development, general pointers, opinions and so on. A self-improvement thread / up-skilling think tank thread would be an excellent addition to the narrative, and I'd be the first subscriber in line.
I'd also be interested to hear the route you took, where you are in your career aspirations, and where you foresee yourself going? Were you late coming to teaching or was it always your plan? What are your academic credentials? What succession of events brought you to being afforded responsibility for four campuses (it's quite a responsibility so I'm guessing you're exceptionally qualified or worked hard to earn such a position, or both).
While you pointed out the scenario in the institutions you oversee, surely there are still some good options if not exactly excellent ones for those with online masters, references, and good experience? You mentioned that in Thailand one would be shown the door at 60 - but is that not the case in most countries and in many industries? I don't see the world being too rosy anywhere for the 60+ years of age candidates. For sure there are jobs that offer security, but for those who choose ESL as a career there are not enough to go around. My own personal approach is to keep learning, reflecting and improving myself (whilst acquiring the academic certification to back this up), and considering alternative income streams in tandem so I'm never reliant on just my day job alone. By this I mean a move to teaching online, both in a live teaching environment and also a static video course subscription option. It's early days for me yet but I see a lot of potential in it for those willing to invest time to adapt and purchase the appropriate equipment needed.My ultimate aim would be an international school at some point, but if I could earn a reasonable sum juggling both an online project with my day job I would be happy for a little while at least.
I'd be interested in knowing your suggestions on circumstances such as mine, with Thailand as my only option for now, my age, and the willingness I display to vocationally multi-task, adapt, evolve, and persevere. And by suggestions I mean formal routes; personal reading and investigation is a given for me, it's the formal route I want to navigate efficiently. It can't just be the path you suggest, it's statistically impossible. There must be some niche available to the diverse selection of future potential teachers? What of China, Vietnam, Korea, Japan etc? Surely even Thailand has some job potential for those with a blend of experience, motivation, and appropriate academic credentials (even those of us who go the online route)? Personally I live a frugal existence by default, my pastimes and entertainment needs are sourced via the web, and I don't take much stock in luxurious fripperies. I eat locally, don't smoke, rarely drink, and did most of my globetrotting a number of years ago. I'm not holding out for riches, just a job that affords me some dignity, a little stability, and the option of putting some cash away for my retirement. Is that too much to ask? If it is, and I don't have any other options, what then? Is it life's scrapheap? Surely not?
Once again, appreciate your insights
^It appears you've painted yourself into a Thai corner. Despite all the energy, perseverance and goal-oriented behavior you're willing to invest in professional growth, such effort is likely wasted in the local Ed scene. You're an alien in a culturally hide-bound land. A basic re-think may be in order: rather than struggling to achieve various second-best options, why not work in a country that pays far more (and allows you to save for retirement) and return to Thailand for vacations? It's possible that your Thai partner might agree to such a situation given the financial and professional advantages. You're far too young to throw away your peak earning years in an environment that equates you to fodder. Believe it or not (at the moment, anyway), Thailand is not your only option.
I hear you loud and clear SageAdvice, points taken and agreed upon. However, I'm currently not qualified enough to warrant going elsewhere for now. There are other things at play here also: I have to consider my partner, marriage in the not-too-distant future, and what security I can offer her if she follows me into the unknown. It will take over another year to complete my thesis too, and a further two plus years to complete my MA in TESOL. I'd also like to take time to amass some cash before taking such a leap (my salary is not bad, excellent free accommodation is provided by my school, and I will supplement this by teaching online too).
I'm not dismissing the option of going elsewhere either, I'm just exploring all possible avenues and starting with Thailand first. I've only just spent a little over 3 years teaching ESL so I'm relatively new to the game. I also think that Thailand offers a good foundation to build from for the fledgling ESL teacher, it's quite cheap, food is great, and there are also plenty of options for sourcing external teaching-work after hours. It's also a good location to build upon one's academic credentials by studying online and part-time whilst holding down a day-job (my school only requires 4 contact hours with my classes a day, this offers a lot of time to devote to my studies during lesson downtime).
I would definitely be interested in going further afield if necessary in the future, but I know now is not the time, or next year either. In the meantime I plan to focus on upgrading my academic credentials and make bank with an eye on the horizon for future potential.
Which brings me to my next question for you, SageAdvice:
What options would you suggest to a teacher here in Thailand for future-proofing and making themselves eligible for employment at a level greater than that of Thailand? As stfranalum pointed out previously, some institutions won't entertain any up-skilling efforts completed online...
Well, DG: slim pickings, I'm afraid. I admire your persistent optimism and determination, but the reality of your current situation has some serious bite. Aside from gaining classroom experience under difficult and possibly self-defeating circumstances, you might look at programs offered by Mahidol, Assumption et al., but these places are suspect (or unknown) on an international level and offer little in the way of validation of your academic prowess. Others posting here may disagree, having found a way to make a good living in the local Ed morass. However, the return on investment (of time as well as money) is, imo, not worth the effort. Essentially, square one needs to be revisited.
quite literally, "sage advice"
seriously, consider than professional gold medal quality advice. free. on the internet.
the fucking internet. its a (sometimes) gorgeous thing.
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