Paul Kei Matsuda

Advice for Master’s in TESOL Applicants

Here is my advice to people who are thinking about applying to the Master’s Program in TESOL at ASU. The information provided here is my personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of other MTESOL faculty members, the Department or ASU.

Statement of Purpose. To me, this is the most important document. Here are some of the questions that I ask as I read through these documents:

  • Why do you wish to pursue a master’s degree in TESOL? To begin your career as an English language teacher? To become a more effective teacher in your current teaching context? To expose yourself to the most up-to-date ideas about the English language, language learning, and language teaching? To gain the credential to teach in intensive language programs or college-level ESL courses? To prepare yourself for a research career in TESOL (by continuing onto a Ph.D. program)?
  • What experience have you had in the field of TESOL? Have you taken a course? Have you taught English? Have you reflected on your own language learning experience? It’s OK not to have any experience at all—everyone has to start somewhere, and Master’s Program in TESOL provides an excellent starting point.
  • What do you hope to learn through your studies? Although Master’s Program in TESOL is a general preparation for professionals in TESOL, it helps to have a sense of what you hope to learn in the program, which helps you determine the best plan of study and identify appropriate faculty mentors.
  • Why are you interested in this particular program? It is the wide variety of courses that are offered by the program? Is it the opportunity to gain teaching experience through the internship program? Is it the reputation of the faculty members or graduates of the program? Did a graduate of this program recommend it to you? If so, what did they say that made you want to apply to this program?
  • Do you have a faculty member whose work you are interested? If so, you can mention the person as one of the reasons for applying to this particular program—it shows that you’ve done your homework. But don’t just drop names—listing everyone is not as effective as mentioning one or two people and explaining how their work has inspired you and relates to your professional development and career objectives.
  • What do you plan to do when you complete the program? Do you plan to teach in the United States or abroad? Do you plan to continue onto a Ph.D. program in TESOL or a related field? Are you thinking about starting a language school of your own? A graduate degree is always a means to an end. Have a clear idea about where you are headed. It’s OK to change your mind after you enter the program—you will be introduced to the whole world of TESOL during your studies, and you may discover new possibilities you’ve never considered.
Recommendation Letters. Ask someone who is in the field of TESOL and who knows you and your work very well. Although a letter from a well-known person in the field could help, a weak, dashed-off letter from the same person could actually hurt the case. It is more important to have strong letters that detail your academic strengths, personality traits, your relationships with mentors and classmates, and your interest in and commitment to the profession. (See Recommendation Letters.)

TOEFL or IELTS Score. Advanced proficiency in spoken and written English is essential for your success as a student and future English teacher. If you are an international student, the current requirement is a TOEFL score of 600 PBT, 250 CBT or 100 iBT, or an IELTS score of 6.5. If you don’t have the scores, ASU offers an excellent, multi-level English language program in the American English and Culture Program (AECP), where you can work on your English proficiency while preparing your application.

Official Transcripts. Be sure that your overall GPA is 3.0 on a 4 point scale (i.e., B average) or above. It would help if you have taken courses related to applied linguistics, linguistics or language teaching, but it’s neither required nor necessary.

Department of English Application. Fill it out completely and neatly. Type the form—hand-written applications can be a turn-off.

Graduate Application (online). Be sure to complete both Department of English and Graduate Application.

Best of luck with your application process!

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Last update: January 6, 2008