As the leader of the Busan cohort, I want to thank a few people for making this MA possible. Firstly, I want to thank Joyce Fahey. In April 2014, I called Joyce to inquire about the Framingham TESOL master’s program. She connected me with Chris Bolger and Nick Mitchelmore. I had multiple conversations with Chris over the phone and he suggested that I start a Busan program. After that, I traveled to Seoul to meet Nick and see how he ran his programs. Once he met me, he also agreed and suggested to Joyce that I should start a Busan group.
It took a little more than two years from the time I initially spoke to Joyce but the hard work and effort were well worth it. It was a great challenge that I couldn’t have done without the help of my co-coordinator Jenay Seymour.
Lastly, I want to thank my classmates who were an excellent group of smart, hard working individuals that made this learning experience something I will never forget.
PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION EDUC 991
Professor Sean Buckreis
Taught by Dr. Sean Buckreis, this class was the first we took toward our master’s. I thought that a philosophy class is a perfect way to start a master’s degree in Education. Our pre-course work consisted of reviewing educational philosophies, summarizing them and giving our thoughts.
During the class itself, we started with a very positive exploration into the various educational philosophies in human history. This made me think back to the educational philosophy with which I was indoctrinated during my youth. We had many group projects that referenced and demonstrated each of the philosophies. This class made me reevaluate what I believe my students should be taught, and why. My favorite part of the class was about the hidden curriculum, which I define as the meta-intention of what a teacher wants his/her students to learn, or teach them indirectly. Sometimes the best lessons are indirect, through the backdoor.
Professor Buckreis’ post-course assignment was to write a paper about our personal educational philosophies. I took a long time to write this as took this assignment very seriously. In addition to handing in this assignment for class, I published the same document on my website. It can be found at:
These philosophies are learned from my life experience, which includes over 15 years of martial arts training. I believe that the ways of the ancients, the Stoics, the Taoists and some aspects of religion provide a framework to process the challenges of modern society.
As a result of this class, my students became aware of the deeper underpinnings of my teaching methods. In my classes at the university, I am fortunate to have the ability to teach with a lot of freedom. In the first week of classes at my workplace, I communicated my philosophy to my students, so that they understand me and where I am coming from, and what I want from them. This helps my students understand the WHY behind what I teach and how I teach it. I then design my curriculum with my goals and objectives in a way that reinforces the philosophy.
TEACHING SECOND LANGUAGE SKILLS TESL 936
Professor Mary-Ann Stadtler-Chester
This class, taught by Dr. Mary-Ann Chester-Sadler, was great because it gave me an overview of the second language teaching methods used in the last century. We learned about the opportunities within, and challenges of, teaching ESL and EFL in our home countries. For our pre-course work assignments, we were required to research local and national TOEFL organizations, in addition to watching videos related to different teaching methodologies.
This class first introduced me to Dr. Krashen’s input hypothesis, Dr. Swain’s output hypothesis, as well as many other theories related to ESL. The class gave us an opportunity to present the various teaching methods, with each group in our cohort demonstrating one of the teaching methods while the rest of the class acted as students. We experienced what it felt like to be taught with these various methods.
From a self-analysis of my teaching methods, I found myself intuitively using various communicative methods, discovered through experimenting on my own students by trial and error. The teacher was excellent. She had a deep knowledge of the field of ESL and EFL and she made us aware of the problems that ESL students face in the USA. She made us aware that immigrant students often struggle with abstract knowledge as a result of various environmental factors such as parents speaking their native language at home. The students might be highly intelligent the classroom work and testing results don’t reflect this. As a result of the lack of abstract and academic vocabulary, the students are unable to perform at a high level in school, don’t go to university, and as a result, make a minimum contribution to society.
The class was an interesting bridge between teaching overseas and teaching back in the USA. As a class, we discovered that many schools have a need for us in the USA because there are thousands of children within the American school system with English as a second language who need the expertise that we will soon offer.
After this class, I came to an understanding about the Korean government’s teaching methodology and it put their public school textbook choice into perspective. In my opinion, the Korean government chooses a method that fits well within the Confucian learning style that their teachers are comfortable teaching. Some of the commutative methods and principles of negotiating meaning that we learned go against the Korean structure and hierarchy in Korea as it takes away the authority of the teacher.
From this class, I realized that teaching language is similar to a martial art. We have different methods and strategies based on the various obstacles that are in our way. When the goal is to fix pronunciation, we need to drill the class with some techniques from the audio-lingual teaching method. When we want to to give students confidence, we should give them simple communicative information gap activities to build up their fluency, and build them up like prize fighters. Let them get into flow states and carefully correct them by recasting in a gentle way. After a learning session, certain parts of the L2 fossilize in the students’ interlanguage and we need to use the grammar translation method to break up, isolate and defeat these fossilized patterns. The teaching methods are like different martial arts techniques that advance the students along the interlanguage continuum.
LANGUAGE STRUCTURE: PHONETICS & MORPHOLOGY TESL 901
Professor Loy Riley
The class was taught by Professor Loy Riley. This class was very practical. I was immediately able to take the concepts that Loy taught and put them into use in the classroom. Our pre-course work included an assignment where we attempted to improve upon a student’s pronunciation, without any prior knowledge of how to do this. I liked this challenging assignment as it made us think about phonetics and experiment with various teaching methods.
During class time we studied the phonetic alphabet and the history of the English language. This motivated me to independently read the book “Globish” by Robert McCrum and “The Mother Tongue” by Bill Bryson, which gave me appreciation and perspective on the 21st-century lingua franca. I plan to study some of Robert McCrum’s “Globish” language system and incorporate that into my curriculum.
In particular, I really enjoyed the assignment where we formed an analysis of the Russian/Ukraine accent video. This assignment clarified the concepts I was learning around analyzing and altering someone’s accent. It is a complicated process with so many variables in the mouth that affect the sounds we make. In addition, intonation is also a major factor in how we speak. After this class, I have grown an appreciation for someone who can master multiple languages, especially if the languages have very different sound systems.
I see a lot of future money for those who master the concepts in this class, specifically the phonetic aspect of this class. The ability to correctly pronounce American English is the way many cultures communicate status and power. Koreans will pay a lot of money to fix pronunciation problems and pronunciation is a never-ending process. I read somewhere that the Korean United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was criticized by Korean people for having a bad accent.
This class is also useful for us in the global business arena. For a Chinese business person to communicate with a Russian business person, they need to make themselves comprehensible by changing their accent.
I found this class to be one of the most practical out of all of the classes in the program. I liked Loy’s style and her ability to weave in and out of related topics. This fit my curious/creative, intuitive learning style. This is a screenshot of a video I made about English pronunciation from my blog.
TECHNOLOGY IN THE SECOND LANGUAGE CLASSROOM TESL 920
Professor William Stewart
This class was taught by William Stewart. It offered a general overview of technology in education, with an emphasis on curriculum design. The class covered the general aspects of most of the technology that I would use in the classroom and immediately helped me become more productive as he reintroduced me to the application Google Docs. As an author of two books, I wish I had access to this technology four years ago.
I immediately took Mr. Stewart’s concepts to the classroom since this class was held mid-semester. I introduced Google Docs to my English writing class and the Korean students, none of whom were familiar with the platform, were really surprised by the ease of use of the technology. I had been familiar with Google Docs years ago but back then, it was not very useful and it had many bugs, so it was slow to work.
Coincidentally, during Mr. Stewart’s class, we had a major typhoon hit South Korea and with our classes officially canceled, they had to be made up at a later date. I decided to run the class via Kakao Talk chat, an instant messaging application that all Korean students use. I created a group chat with every student in the class. This gave me the ability communicate and essentially run a class while sitting at home. It made me think about what constitutes an actual classroom. Do we need a physical space to run a class? How does technology have to change so that we can run a class remotely and receive the same benefits as we would in a physical classroom? These thoughts led me to think about what it would be like to be in a virtual classroom. I will continue to experiment with Google Docs to teach writing and test out new technologies in the classroom.
Since the class has finished, I have taken Mr. Stewart’s concept of the “living document” to the next level. Right now I am on a long bus ride in South Korea and normally I would be reading my Facebook newsfeed or listening to a podcast, but now with Google Docs, I can actively work on this portfolio assignment. This fits well with the way my very creative and spontaneous brain works. Many of my ideas occur to me at random times during the day and as a result of this class, I don’t have to be at a certain location to add new information to my documents. I can lesson plan, edit and generally be productive anytime, anywhere. The other day I shared a chapter of my new book with one of my students and he was able to give me immediate feedback. Technology is great when you know how to use it effectively!
CURRENT ISSUES IN SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION TESL 913
Professor Edgar Miranda
This class was taught by Edgar Miranda. The pre-course work was a good review of the theories of the behaviorists, innatists and interactionists and the work of Chomsky, Krashen and Swain. I found this part interesting to study because I had my own theories about how we learn languages based on personal observations, so going deeper into the theories was fascinating.
We learned from Dr. Miranda that academic language and grammar is the language of prestige and power in America. If a student does not have the correct academic language, he or she is stuck at the bottom of society. This gave me perspective and the feeling that I am really lucky to have been born a native speaker in America.
We studied the SIOP method of teaching. I found this class useful, indirectly. While Dr. Miranda’s experience and focus in the class was on the challenge of teaching students in American classrooms, I found the SIOP methodology helpful because the Korean university system is moving from classes taught in Korean to classes taught in English. The purpose of this change is to attract foreign students to Korean universities. Korean universities need foreign students because of lower birth rates in Korea.
As a timely example, my university has recently implemented a policy to encourage classes taught in English. Korean professors who are able to teach their classes in English only and record the classes receive double the credit. For example, if Dr. Kim teaches a 3-hour class in English, he or she fulfills 6 credit hours on his/her contract. My school implemented this policy to encourage more content classes taught in English. It is becoming apparent that the ESL teacher needs to know a method such as SIOP to be able to integrate that into content classes at school.
This class is also very beneficial to those of us who want to work in America as an ESL teacher. The SIOP paradigm is a nice complement to the content classes. The model gives teachers a way to effectively teach BICS and CALP vocabulary and/or consult content teachers. It adds tremendous value to what we do by focusing on content objectives and language objectives, while having a concrete model to draw from.
Dr. Miranda had a lot of experiences to share as a bilingual child, educator, pastor and principal of a school. His stories encouraged many of us to pursue teaching as a career. I think he made a big impact on many of my classmates with his passion.
The last part of Mr. Miranda’s lesson was on cultural difference. His final assignment was a presentation about culture, aimed at someone coming to a foreign country for the first time. If someone were visiting Korea for the first time, how would we introduce an aspect of Korean culture to them? My topic was dating differences, an interesting topic to research and present.
LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT & COMMUNICATION EDUC 998
Professor Donna Roy
This class was taught by Donna Roy. At first, we covered early childhood language development, a topic that always fascinated me because of my unique experiences as a child. I found this class especially interesting because when I was a child, I had some atypical language development. I was a cesarean birth, born in fight-flight. I had colitis and many ear infections as a baby. In struggled reading as a result of dyslexia and ADHD. Although my IQ measured above average, I struggled during my early education. For our pre-course work, we were to observe a child’s speech patterns and write down the sounds and words the child makes.
While I don’t work with children, I found this class interesting. Many Koreans are looking for the best way to educate their children and make them bilingual. What is the best method for a child? Study abroad? Books on tape? Mozart in the womb? We posed questions like, what if mom is hearing Chinese in the womb, will the babies come out better pre-wired to learn Chinese?
For the midterm assignment, we were each to report on one of the chapters from the book. My partner was Hilary Dumas and we covered Chapter 10 Language Literacy in the School Years. Since the chapter was about how young toddlers turn language into stories at a certain developmental stage, I included a video my mom was able to find of me when I was 5 years old, talking to my grandpa, telling him a fictional story. This is a link to the youtube video I made and showed the class during the presentation. Since the sound quality on the 1986 video wasn’t so good, I added subtitles to the video. It was nice to see what I was like as a young child.
For the final exam assignment, I worked with Robert Dauterman on a presentation about dyslexia. It was interesting to compare our experiences with learning disabilities. Robert and I prepared a unique presentation that will help any teachers deal with students who face similar learning issues.
My favorite part of the class was the opportunity to pick our own topics to study. This allowed each student to pursue their own interests, which made the class more interesting. Living in a different country and seeing different child-rearing practices is always fascinating. This class lead me to read the book “The Continuum Concept” by Jean Liedloff. I wonder how parenting affects child development and I will continue to study this.
RESEARCH AND EVALUATION EDUC 999
Professor Sean Buckreis
This class was taught by Dr. Sean Buckreis. He taught us about the basic methodology of qualitative and quantitative research design. For our pre-course work, we read both a qualitative and quantitative research paper and wrote about the findings from each of the studies.
For the midterm assignment, we were required to do a literature review. I decided to work with my classmate Bogue Hermsmeyer and we picked the topic of studying abroad and language learning. We read hundreds of pages of research to build our case for our review. I found these readings to be a great review of the concepts we had learned in our previous classes. Much of the vocabulary from our previous classes were repeated throughout the papers we read. After researching extensively, I found myself feeling like an expert on the topic of ESL and EFL education.
Through this process, I found that I have a natural talent for doing research, especially on a topic that interests me. In just a few days, I read three research books, each one over 300 pages, and another 100-page book, in addition to dozens of articles, creating 58 pages of notes in total.
For the final project, we were to take the literary review and turn it into a research design, including our hypothesis questions. Together we wrote a qualitative research design final paper. I plan to follow up and complete the research after these master’s courses are finished. The I think the results from this research will be valuable information for Koreans who plan to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars sending children abroad. In addition, this research is complementary to my book “Travel: A Korean’s Guide to America.” I posted our research on my website to show my readers my academic work. If you go to my website, you can see our work.
As a result of this class, when I watch a scientist on YouTube or listen to a podcast featuring an academic, I am much more familiar with what they are talking about when they describe their research. When I read articles in the newspaper, I am now more skeptical of the limited, or lack of, peer-reviewed research writers may cite. After reading all of this study abroad research, I have a few business ideas that I want to implement in the future.
TEACHING READING AND WRITING IN THE ENGLISH IMMERSION CLASSROOM TESL 948
Professor Melanie Gonzalez
This class was taught by Dr. Melanie Gonzales and it was a class I was looking forward to since I applied for the master’s program. Her pre-course work included reading the textbook and making two-column notes. I found this a tedious task at first but when we used it for classroom discussion, I thought it was an easy way to have our notes in front of us. I plan to apply this to my reading classes at my workplace.
While some students hadn’t taught reading or writing courses and had trouble connecting to this material, I found the class to be one of the most beneficial because I have been teaching a reading and writing class for the last five years. Dr. Gonzales’ class was well organized and gave me a lot of practical knowledge. I found the website she shared (http://www.lextutor.ca/vp/) a great resource for analyzing vocabulary and preparing students for standardized testing. I immediately showed this to my students. I am also using the online software from this website to make a Korean/English version of my book.
Her teaching method facilitated some excellent discussions where we were able to share our experiences. From these discussions, I found that a lot of my trial and error teaching techniques for my writing classes turned out to be some of the best practices that she taught. A lot of what I already did was covered in the textbook. However, for my reading class, I was lacking in a solid methodology. From the textbook, and from other students in the class, I was able to develop some new strategies that I plan to apply next semester.
Dr. Gonzales’ post-coursework was a portfolio of our teaching methodologies for both reading and writing. In this portfolio, we were required to modify existing lesson plans and improve upon our reading and writing rubric. I thought it was an excellent way for me to suss out and improve upon my teaching ways. It made me think through all of my methods, to justify and improve upon them. Immediately after making this portfolio, I felt a new sense of organization and confidence teaching the last few weeks of the spring semester. This course forever changed how I will teach reading and writing.
SEMINAR IN APPLIED LINGUISTICS TESL 966
Professor Loy Riley
This class was taught by Professor Loy Riley, who we were all happy to have come back and teach us once again. The pre-course work was a 45-minute PowerPoint presentation about a country, its languages, language policies and other relevant facts related to how its languages have changed throughout history, based on politics and geography.
I choose the country of North Korea. I found this very interesting research because of the current existential threat that North Korea poses to the world. Coincidentally, in less than 12 hours after my presentation, my mother emailed me worried about the North Korean threat, urging me to leave South Korea.
In my presentation, I talked about the differences in South Korean and North Korean language and what I think would happen if the two countries were to unite once again. This topic turned into a fascinating discussion about language, culture, and political conflict.
During the class, each of us presented on a country and learned the history and conflicts behind other languages of the world. I thought this was a wonderful pre-course assignment and a great way to cement our learning and finish our MA in TESOL.
We were also assigned to write about educational policies in the USA. I thought this was a relevant assignment because many of us are planning to teach ESL in the USA, and having a deeper understanding of how government language policy affects students and our careers is very important information for all of us.
For the post-course work, we wrote a take home test that reviewed many of the lessons learned in her class. Overall the class was useful. I thought she was a wonderful teacher and a great example for all of us. I am very happy she came back to teach us again.
LANGUAGE STRUCTURE & SYNTAX TESL 902
Professor Jilani Warsi
This class was taught by Dr. Jilani Warsi. It was one of the more difficult classes we had but Dr. Warsi’s enthusiasm and confidence motivated us. For our pre-course work, we read two chapters of a book by Noam Chomsky and wrote a paper about it. I found the reading very difficult, but thanks to YouTube, I was able to understand Chomsky’s writing. Dr. Warsi was very receptive and open to my own theories on language learning that I wrote about in the paper.
We studied syntax in the first week of class and learned how to draw tree diagrams. At first, this was intimidating to me, but Dr. Warsi did a great job of making the diagrams easy to understand and draw. He took some very complicated concepts of grammar and made it easy to understand. I found Dr. Warsi’s teaching style and curriculum beneficial us all. Syntax and sentence structure are at the heart of the language and we need to understand exactly how the heart operates in order to solve our students’ problems. Dr. Warsi’s teaching style promoted a problem-based learning methodology and I learned a lot solving problems with the partners in my group.
The second week of class, we got into some of my favorite topics: semantics and pragmatics. I have a background in NLP, so I had a lot of confidence in learning more about these topics. In this second class, we were each required to make an 8 – 10-minute presentation based on a list of 23 semantic and pragmatic questions. The topic that I picked was homonyms. I made a funny and thoughtful PowerPoint presentation aimed at teaching my classmates about this topic while preparing them for the final test. I also taught the class about homophones, homographs, and phonological ambiguities. The following day we had a final problem-based learning exam, which was much less intense than Dr. Warsi’s first examination. I have some activities that involve phonological ambiguities that I will try with my students next month.
Overall, this class was excellent and I highly recommend Dr. Warsi as a professor and mentor. Every so often, my students ask me complicated grammar questions and in the past, I couldn’t explain WHY something should be written the way it is, I just knew what looked and sounded right. After taking this class, I am much more comfortable explaining those difficult grammar questions and talking about the English language like a professional. The syntax tree diagram is a useful tool to de-fossilize L2 patterns, one which I plan to use and teach my students to use on their own. Dr. Warsi taught us powerful and useful material and we were lucky to have the opportunity to take his classes.
I highly recommend this MA program to any serious ESL or EFL teacher. It offers ideal value for teachers living overseas. The cost is reasonable, the professors are relevant and the classes are practical. I personally noticed major improvements in my teaching ability as a result of these 10 classes and I continue to grow as an educator.
In addition, our cohort members learned a wealth of knowledge from each other. Each of us had some interesting teaching styles and methods that were shared through our various group projects, discussions and presentations. You simply do not get this same level of learning from an online master’s degree. Sitting in the classroom and sharing ideas and problems and presenting to each other led to some of the best learning experiences I had. In the future, I plan to meet other Framingham MA TESOL students and former students and continue to share, my best teaching practices with them.