After completing my undergraduate studies in Art History at the University of New Orleans in the USA, I began teaching English as a second language (ESL) in Seoul, South Korea in 2002. I decided to study the MSc TESOL programme at the University of Bristol because I wanted a theoretical basis for my teaching. Although I had been teaching for several years, I had no formal training in education before Bristol. I chose the MSc TESOL programme because of its focus on research in the field of ESL/TESOL and I wanted a programme that would allow me more opportunities to teach in higher education.
I chose Bristol over other universities in the UK because of its reputation as one of the top universities in the world. I also wanted to live in a smaller city where I could live close to the campus and where getting around the city would be easy. Bristol is a very conducive city to be a student in. I was living in Clifton and my best memories of Bristol are walking around Clifton near the suspension bridge and Clifton Down. As an American I really appreciated how pedestrian friendly Bristol is. I liked the laid-back feel of the city.
I think what stands out the most is the quality of the professors’ teaching and the respect they show for varying points of view within the field of TESOL. Specific feedback on my dissertation was exceedingly helpful when putting my dissertation together in the summer of 2009. Dr Frances Giampapa had the most influence on me at Bristol and I continue to view her as one of my mentors. She gave me great insight into the academic framework in my field. She also taught me to be realistic about TESOL and what it means to teach in various contexts. Her course on globalisation was perhaps the best course I have ever taken.
I would, and have, suggested the University of Bristol to young people who are thinking of going into my field. I think it is important to pair work experience with a solid theoretical knowledge in one’s field. I believe it is important to make bold decisions with respect to one’s professional life. I also think that studying abroad and in different educational contexts helps one be flexible in a globalised world.
The University of Bristol greatly influenced my career and there have been many proud achievements since I graduated. What stands out the most for me is the ease with which I have obtained employment since receiving my Master’s. Though part of this is the strength of the TESOL market, I am very grateful for the education I received at Bristol. After graduation, I was able to secure a position as an Assistant Professor at Dongguk University in Seoul. I have since taught at the National Chaio Tung University in Taiwan and taught a summer programme at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I am currently ready to start my second semester as Lecturer at the Nagoya University of Business and Commerce in Japan. My MSc from Bristol has given me the flexibility to explore diverse opportunities in my field. I will be giving a workshop in the USA over the summer focusing on employment in TESOL at Flathead Valley Community College, Montana.
I am planning to continue making a positive impact on my students and exploring opportunities in my field. My contract with my current university will finish in 2014. From Japan, I plan to work in the Middle East or perhaps start a PhD in the UK or the US. Attending Bristol has been both advantageous for my career and contributed to my personal development. I look forward to continue growing as a teacher and am thankful for the opportunities my MSc from Bristol has given me.