deciding your course pathway 1

Re: All quiet on the Aston front?? | Jerry Talandis Jr. | August 10th, 2001

I want to get started on another module, although I haven't decided which one yet. Any suggestions? What do FNDers usually go on to? MET seems to be the most logical choice, as methodology is already a familiar topic in our day jobs.

What did you do? How did you determine your "learning pathway?" Are there some "dos" and "don'ts" about this process? Do you just go with what you're interested in, or are there other considerations to take into account?

Jerry Talandis

Re: IIC/MET | Simon Mumford | August 10th, 2001

Jerry - I chose to do TDA then IIC after FND because I wanted to look at language, what we teach, before looking at how we teach. I think everyone has their own opinion about this, though.

Simon Mumford


Re: Yes, I'm still here | Francesca | August 10th, 2001

As for your pathway, Jerry, I began with MET because I wanted to start off well (I think it's important psychologically) and with MET I felt I was on familiar territory. For me, this strategy worked well. After that, I think it depends on what most interests you and is of relevance in your professional context. Whichever pathway you do decide on, it'll probably change along the way with your circumstances and interests.

Keep on writing folks!


Re: Pathway | Jerry Talandis Jr. | August 10th, 2001

Dear Jake, Andy, Simon, and Francesca,

Thanks all of you for your advice on which course to take after FND. Your different perspectives have given me something to think about. It's interesting to see two basic strategies happening: one way is to go about getting a foundation laid in with TDA and IIC before heading on to other stuff. I like this idea - it seems logical. On the other hand, while I found those units interesting in FND, I can see the advantages of Francesca's way of focusing on getting off to a good start. Both strategies have merit, and I'll be thinking hard about it over the next few weeks.

Jake, I also like your idea of getting some textbooks from each of the modules to get an idea of what they are like. I'll think about doing that, as our budget allows.

By the way, that task is by no means a walk-in-the-park-just-list-your-modules task.

Yes, I think this is true! I can benefit a lot by putting thought into it. Thanks to all of you, I've gotten off to a good start!


Jerry Talandis

Re: Back from holiday | Jerry Talandis Jr. | August 12th, 2001

Hi Catherine,

You wrote in your message:

I've just started TDA after completing the FND and look at everything I read these days through completely different eyes

I'm pondering now which module to do next, so I'd be interested to hear an example or two of how life looks different for you these days. The feeling I had when doing the TDA unit in FND was a sense of wonder at how much can be gleaned from a seemingly ordinary exchange of words. It was like taking the back off a computer and looking at all the cool stuff inside. It's still pretty complicated, though. Let me know how you like it if you get a chance.


Jerry Talandis

Re: Hello from a new subscriber | Jerry Talandis Jr. | August 21st, 2001

Liz Horobin wrote:

As far as the MSc is concerned, I've just finished the FND module, and I'm currently trying to get my head around LEX.

I'm curious: why did you choose LEX as your next module? You must really like it, as that seems to me one of the hardest modules of all. I can't imagine doing it, and hope to avoid it at all costs! So, what is the attraction for you?

Actually, it's not all that bad. When reading the LEX unit in FND, there were moments (a few) where I actually understood what Julian was writing about, and it felt pretty good. I felt almost smart! Still, I would never have the confidence to tackle that module next, so I'm wondering how you got yours!

Actually, one of the things I got from that LEX unit was that studying concordances is especially good for people interested in ESP, like you said you were. You can show your students some real English in your field, and they can learn grammar in a more communicative way. Is this one reason why you want to do LEX next?

Anyway, just wondering. Thanks again for writing, and I'm looking forward to exchanging ideas with you in the future.

Good luck!


Re: Hi Liz and the list | Raymond Sheehan | August 23rd, 2001

Jerry: I found the Study Companion was my best guide to deciding what to do next after FND. A close reading of the MET section, for example, gave me many good reasons for choosing MET as my first module after FND. What I found most useful about it was not just its focus on methodology but its further development of the principles and practice of action/classroom research. In that respect, I think it provides a good foundation for future modules. As regards jumping in and doing what interests you most first, I went for the opposite and decided to defer gratification. As a practicing teacher, I find issues to do with materials development and curriculum development most interesting, but I agree with the argument that you will benefit most from doing these modules if you establish a strong linguistic foundation first. So we are really laying foundations not just in the FND module, but in all the other modules too.

I think it would be "a tragedy" to avoid the LEX module. It's the module I'm working on at the moment and there is a lot to be got from it. If you think about it, 100% of every coursebook you teach is lexis, albeit with a focus very often on skills, tasks, structures, etc. So developing a principled approach to the issue of lexis is crucial. I agree that some of the concepts can be daunting, but it's well worth the effort of pondering them. I've also found reading D Willis on the lexical syllabus, and M Lewis on implementing the lexical approach very useful. While the LEX module quite rightly concentrates on the issues at a linguistic/"intellectual" level very often, both Willis and Lewis connect those issues very attractively and persuasively to our working world in the classroom. I can think of some modules that might be dispensable, but LEX is not one of them. It's useful AND (a subjective word I know) you have enough freedom of choices within the module to make it enjoyable for yourself.

Good luck making your choices and establishing your rationale for them. In the end it's all a very personal matter and the only truly right pathway is the one that makes most sense to you! And of course you can change and digress as you go along...

Raymond Sheehan

Re: Hi Liz and the list | Jerry Talandis Jr. | August 23rd, 2001

Hello Raymond,

This is Jerry. Thanks for your strong support of the LEX module! What it boils down to is that I'm really afraid of it. I attended a workshop about it back in May in Nagoya, and I had trouble understanding every other word! I felt like a dunce, and it wasn't fun. Now I know from life experience that this is a precious moment, when I'm on the verge of learning something new. I think that if one never ventures off into the land of the "difficult thing" then one misses out on so much! So, I can see why you say it would be a "tragedy" to skip LEX.

STILL, there are so many modules I want to take! It's like being at a buffet and wanting to eat everything! "Oh, it all looks SO delicious!" I'm having trouble choosing which to do and which to cut. Most of what I'm interested in lies on the "pedagogical" side of things.

I'm thinking things over, reading the Study Companion carefully (you're right, that IS very helpful), and will be getting in touch with my tutor soon. It's a "good problem" to have, so I'm not too worried. I just want to do what's best, but as you said, you can change things later on. I'm glad about that.

Thanks for taking time out to help me! Good luck in whatever you are doing!


Re: Mixed doubles, anyone? | Raymond Sheehan | August 28th, 2001

I felt a lot for those participants in FND who've finally arrived at Unit 11 and are faced with some radical-seeming choices. I spent a lot of time rethinking my options here - and I still have some misgivings later on.

The real problem is that Aston offers some great choices and in the end you realize that by making a certain selection from the menu on offer, you are excluding a huge amount of good stuff from your chosen pathway.

FOR EXAMPLE: Testing plays a huge part in my daily life. It's a constant nagging ever-discussed issue. It's subject to an ever-changing ethos and (one dares to hope) more refined practices. It's also the sole focus of certain international conferences where a whole lot of statistical twaddle makes testing seem scientific rather than pathetically prone to human error. Yet Testing warrants only a single module in our program (which program I love a lot! he avowed testily). If testing were a double module, since it involves an evaluation of How our Learners Learn, as assessment of the success of our methodology, our materials and our curriculum and our mode of interaction - I would choose it. As it is a single module, competing with a lot of other outstandingly attractive single modules (I've chosen CL because it promises to mess up my head with something startlingly singular and new as a perspective - a tool to challenge my preconceptions of language usage) I wondered why we had to make these desperate single and double module choices. I have no doubt that there are sound administrative and pedagogical reasons, rebarbitatively argued at Academic Council Meetings. HOWEVER

The Management Module seems like a good exemplar of a course offering: Do half of it (a single module) if your interest extends thus far - you as an analytical self-critical worker in relation to managment hierarchies. Make it a double if management is a big deal in your professional life. Why not the same with Teaching Young Learners: a single module if that's what you do in Spain in the afternoon, after you've finished dealing with the High ESP side of directors in SEAT? But a double module if kids are your bread and butter?

Similarly, the TD (teacher development) module seems like a hugely important area (probably the most important): when we've completed our other modules and graduated, it is surely the self- and collegial-awareness developed in this module that provides a groundwork for future principled professional development. It competes for our attention with a lot of other single modules and in the end its principles have to be incorporated, at best, into other modules.

Are the SINGLE vs. DOUBLE perceptions of areas of interest and specialization useful to CPs? Or are they straitjackets? Do they force us to exclude too much which is of interest and use? How many CPs could honestly say that testing/assessment/evaluation of learner successs is a minor issue in their lives, the principles of which are adequately covered in a single module?

All of this is because while I feel I've been give some really great choices, I'm also forced to miss out on issues which may really may of interest and use. *By the way, what were you clause-analysts talking about through half of last year? What a tightly woven little discourse-community you were for a while, while the rest of us attempted to decode?

How can CPs maximize their options to match their own needs and preferences, while still getting a solid linguistic and professional groundwork - without having to make choices that, of necessity, compel them to exclude certain crucial areas of interest?



Re: Mixed doubles | Andy | August 28th, 2001

In response to Raymond - I guess at Masters level it is a chance to try many different things however you have to limit your choice. The reference list in the study companion however provides directions to self-study and new roads once we have completed the Masters and are in search of fresh challenges.

I had the same problem when I was an undergraduate- I wanted to study all the modules but it is just impossible.


Re: LEX (mainly) | Pinkie | September 3rd, 2001

Fresh back from a month of reading novels, visiting Athens, climbing mountains, watching birds, tending garden, abusing alcohol and (reluctantly) sitting on people-packed expanses of hot sand. Still, I guess even beaches beat exploding sheep!

Raymond: I agree that LEX is fascinating, though not that it's indispensable.

Also agree that the single/double question is vexing: for example, why is LEX worth twice as much as GE? On the one hand, linguistics-oriented people like me could I think justifiably treat GE as a double; and on the other hand, pedagogy-oriented people may I guess wonder why they can't do LEX as a single. No? Still, I don't suppose there are easy solutions to this.

Hi to all the recent signer-uppers. Some interesting Special Purposes there!

Best wishes,


Re: LEX and Dics | Raymond Sheehan | September 11th, 2001

Yes; "LEX is indispensable" is an overstatement. However, should one really leave any of the linguistic modules out???

Imagine taking your car to a mechanic who has almost completed his mechanics course but who has done a whole lot on workshop management; or you go to a doctor whose knowledge of anatomy is virtually impeccable, except for that course he missed because he did a course on hospital management and Module XXX.  

All the linguistics modules support/underpin what we do in class as teachers, in institutions as materials writers or curriculum developers, test writers... I think that in terms of our ability to analyse, describe, or present language to learners, we would be all the poorer for missing out on any one of these. We should probably be minimizing the gap between linguistics and pedagogy as much as we can- as much as doctors minimize the gap between their study of anatomy or epidemiology and their practice of medicine (one rather hopes).

I accept, however, that there are people in our profession whose working week includes very little classroom time because they need to understand and uphold complex bureaucratic systems, and manage. A detailed awareness of linguistic issues may not be their priority.



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