After a couple of years teaching, this is a question that pops into most people’s heads – if only to pop straight back out for most of us, until our bosses almost force us to do one or the other (or even both).
Although I finished the Dip and dropped out of the MA in ELT I started the year after, I would hate for anyone to think I am prejudiced about the Masters. I think English Teaching MAs are a great idea. If you want to work in a university, you have to start the process by paying a university. What a genius money making idea! It’s as if UCLES demanded that people spend two years taking the FCE etc. before they can go for a job interview to work in Cambridge University Press. Only PADI the SCUBA people have a better scam going on.
And it’s not just signing up with two years of your life and 5000 or more pounds of your money either. You’ll also be expected to become a true believer in your professor’s ideas to fully join the cult of the academic ELT world. While your DELTA tutor might want to just get through this part of the course syllabus to leave plenty of time to swot for the exam and so get their pass percentages up on their website, at least arguing about the ideas a little isn’t seen as a personal attack on someone’s reputation. Not that any of my MA tutors got angry about my niggling questions, they just nodded as if to say “Even if you’re right, you haven’t written a book about it, have you?” and that was that.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, many universities in the States bring this Masters joke to a whole other level by offering English graduates a one year Masters in ESOL with no teaching practice at all! That’s right, a fully qualified English teacher who has never been observed teaching a single student. Worth remembering next time someone tries to impress you with letters after their name.
For all that 4 week CELTA-type courses get slagged off for not being proper training for a teacher, I have never trained someone who didn’t teach a class better by the end of the month, including people we had to fail. From my experience, I would not say the same for people studying even a whole year of teaching theory. We had a few people taking the 4 week Via Lingua CTEFLA course who already had ESOL MAs, and to be honest most of them never got any good at teaching- with so much theory popping into their brains everytime something happened in the classroom they often just froze like a computer running 12 programs. People with PGCEs in different subjects also often found it difficult to adapt for the first two weeks or so, but apart from the over 50s their previous (practical) experience had been adapted to help them by the end of the course. I never once saw the same with people with MAs. Even grammar, which they obviously knew well, was something they overcomplicated and overexplained in the classroom.
And so if you actually want to improve your teaching as well as your job prospects, that leaves the Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults or the Trinity Diploma. You can see some of my views on the Dip here: