a centenary
of Learning

  • 58
  • by María Merino Vidueros
  • graduated 2009
  • studied MSc in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
  • from UK, Spain

I am the coordinator of a Bilingual project at a school in Madrid and am trying to apply what I learnt at Bristol – not only from the course, but from my colleagues and friends – to my teaching.

I was a teacher of English as a Foreign Language at a public school in Madrid when I was selected for The Consejeria de Educación of Madrid, which granted me a licence to study for a year in a foreign country. I decided to apply for the MSc Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) because it was related to my career and would allow me to apply what I learnt during my year of study to my teaching.

As well as the MSc, I have a Diploma in Teaching Children and a Degree in History of Art from Complutense University, Madrid. When I finished these courses, I came to live in Bristol in order to learn English and stayed here for six years (from 1994 to 1999). I got involved in voluntary work and helped children with learning difficulties. At this time, I also took some ceramics courses in Filton and Brunel College and studied for a BA in Fine Arts, Ceramics from UWE, Bristol.

It was partly because I’d already lived in Bristol that I decided to return and study at the Graduate School of Education. I also had very good references from the University. I was very happy when I got a place on the course as I’ve always loved Bristol and always come back to visit my friends whenever possible. Having the opportunity to join the TESOL course and return to such a lovely city was a great pleasure. For me, Bristol is the perfect size city – everything is close to hand, people are friendly and you can always find some cultural event, like a gig or an exhibition, to enjoy.

At Bristol, it was interesting to see how teachers from all over the world can share similar teaching experiences no matter how different their students are. It was great to share my teaching experiences with other teachers and colleagues on the MSc - we did a lot of talking and reflecting. I think everyone I met at Bristol influenced me in different ways. My year there allowed me to meet some very interesting people with whom I’m still in contact.

After my TESOL course I started working in a bilingual school in Madrid. I am the coordinator of the Bilingual project in the school and am trying to apply what I learnt at Bristol – not only from the course, but from my colleagues and friends – to my teaching. I will continue working here and hope to build upon my students’ strong links with English language and culture. I am happy to be working in a school where the children are interested in the target subject.

Taking the Msc in TESOL has helped me a lot in my job. I had already studied some of the subjects on the course when I took the exam to become a teacher. But, at the Graduate School of Education, I had the opportunity to get a deeper knowledge of some of the more theoretical aspects of teaching, such as pedagogy and curriculum, change and evaluation, and second language acquisition. These are often more difficult to be aware of once you are "in the classroom". All these units gave me a theoretical background which has helped me to improve and think about my classroom practices. 

Other units, such as Research and Methodology and Literacy were new to me. I learnt to see some educational fields from another perspective, which opened my mind to new fields of exploration. Courses and seminars in Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) were very useful as we have since implemented a CLIL programme in the bilingual school where I work.

I strongly encourage students to enjoy Bristol life and to make the most of the MSc in TESOL. Take advantage of any opportunity you come across (whether it’s voluntary work, teaching experiences etc.); it will help you to develop as a person and as a professional. My background is strongly attached to Bristol and to all the experiences and knowledge I have learnt there.