What is your current position?
I’m currently a visiting lecturer of English at International University, Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam.
When did you complete your MA TESOL degree?
I completed my MA TESOL just recently, in 2020!
Tell us about a story, class, or person, from during your time in the MA TESOL program that had an impact on you or your career?
One of my best memories during my time in the MA TESOL program is when I took the TESOL practicum class in Spring 2019. In this class, I was assigned to teach international students of low English proficiency with three other teachers, all of whom were American and came from different stages in their college career. Since the focus of the class was not only to help students improve their English but also to introduce them to American culture, I learned a great deal about American traditions and values when preparing lesson plans with my American teammates. At the same time, I spent so many wonderful moments with the students. In the class, we had them listen to some current American music, dance to the songs, and play a lot of interesting games. They learned a lot about English and American culture and had a lot of fun doing so! To me, every single moment in this class was a blast. After the course, we took so many cool pictures together. We even celebrated a potluck party where the students brought their native dishes and shared a whole host of intriguing things about their cultures. All in all, this is one of the most enjoyable classes I ever took at MSU.
How did the MA TESOL program help influence your career path?
The MA TESOL program had a tremendous impact on my research and teaching career. Firstly, I got the chance to work with and learn from many renowned professors in the field, such as Dr. Charlene Polio, Dr. Paula Winke, and Dr. Sandra Deshors. In their classes, I had an opportunity to discuss and reflect on a variety of interesting research topics such as genre analysis, eye-tracking in language assessment, and the application of corpus linguistics in the teaching of a second language. These topics opened a whole new world to me and fired up my enthusiasm for doing second language research. At the same time, my cohort consisted of students coming from different countries with different teaching experiences. Such a learning environment was so valuable in advancing my understanding of how English is being taught across various teaching contexts. If I had not joined the MA program at MSU, I would have never known how English was taught in Russia or what learning strategies to learn English were perceived as the most important by Chinese learners, for example.
What was your favorite class in the MA TESOL program, and why?
I think one of my favorite classes in the MA TESOL program, besides the practicum, was the Introduction to Corpus Linguistics course taught by Dr. Sandra Deshors. In that class, we read various eye-opening research papers examining the application of corpus linguistics in language teaching and assessment, such as studies centered around the most common phrasal verbs in American and British English or about the contrasting frequencies of English collocations presented in textbooks and in corpora. We also learned how to use a variety of corpus tools, such as AntConc, to extract concordance lines and examine certain key words in learner corpora. After this class, I immediately knew that I could use English corpora to further improve my teaching skills. In fact, building on the knowledge I gained from this class, I published an article that describes the use of AntConc in teaching IELTS writing. Furthermore, on my return to my home country, Vietnam, I planned a corpus-based IELTS writing course, showing students how to approach IELTS writing from a corpus-based perspective. All of my students really love the design of the course, and I credit the skills I learned in the corpus linguistics class for that!
What advice do you have for current MA students?
In the program, you will be required to do lots of reading every week! As an international student unfamiliar with the U.S educational environment, I found it quite challenging to peruse the assigned research articles within a short period of time. Therefore, I think it would be a good idea if you could plan your time effectively to handle the reading assignments. At the same time, if you are an international student, you should consider socializing with the MSU community or joining organizations. Being part of such a community will certainly leave you with tons of unforgettable memories. During my time in the program, I participated in the Vietnamese community, where we spent time celebrating our traditional festivals and events. On several occasions, we went picnicking and exchanged valuable advice on how to cope with the workload in our graduate programs. One final piece of advice is that MSU is an amazing campus with numerous interesting and fun events, and I lost count of how many cultural and sports events I went to. If possible, you might want to spend some time attending the events of your interest. This will certainly leave you with great experience when you complete your MA!