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Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MA)

Course Description

This course provides you with a specialist combination of theoretical academic study and robust practical application and skills development in English language teaching. It provides advanced training for TESOL professionals, and examines the latest developments in TESOL methodology and related issues. You will develop the practical and professional skills involved in TESOL, along with the ability to analyse and apply theoretical perspectives to practical situations.

The course enables you to develop your skills in argument, synthesis and critical expression of TESOL issues, and apply them in different teaching contexts. You will also enhance your advanced skills of research, presentation and analysis in TESOL contexts. Nurturing ongoing professional development and skills in pursuing further independent research is an important aspect of the course, enabling you to make a full contribution to professional development in your specialist area.

Course content

The course consists of three core modules and a range of option modules. The Language and Learning: Description and Analysis core module introduces in-depth exploration of the core concepts in the description and analysis of language and language learning, with specific reference to English language teaching and second language acquisition. The Current Developments in Language Teaching core module examines a wide range of current practice and developments, including communicative competence in language learning and teaching, language teaching methodology, and discrete and integrated skills. The Dissertation is the third core module.

Core modules

- Current Developments in Language Teaching
You will examine current practice and developments in language teaching, including communicative competence in language learning. During this module you will cover a range of topical issues in language learning and teaching, including: content and language integrated learning; individual differences in language learning; language for specific purposes; learner autonomy and strategy training; methodology; neurolinguistic processing and multiple intelligences; skills lessons and real language; and teacher language and national curriculum.

- Dissertation
This initial research-skills module will cover a range of topics, including: investigating and assessing the relevance of potential research sources; issues in research design, including identifying the field of study; planning, conducting and recording of research; the responsibility of the researcher and role of the supervisor; and writing up. The subsequent work you undertake will be conducted autonomously with supervisory support.

- Language and Learning: Description and Analysis
This module introduces and encourages in-depth exploration of core concepts in the description and analysis of language, with specific reference to English language teaching. The module also introduces and encourages in-depth exploration of core concepts in language learning, with specific reference to second language acquisition and the implications of these concepts for the language teacher. The module is divided into two units, the first on language description and analysis, and the second on language learning.

Option modules
- Analysing Spoken and Written Discourse
This module offers a range of different linguistic tools for analysing written text. Texts are analysed for lexical and grammatical cohesion, metonymy and metaphor, and register and thematic progression (Hallidayan functional grammar). Texts are also analysed using Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and Multimodal Discourse Analysis (MDA). You will acquire a theoretical understanding of the main approaches to Written Discourse Analysis, and the practical skills for carrying out these analyses on real texts. You will also gain a broader awareness of how written discourse is constructed by comparing it to spoken discourse, and by discussing it in terms of more general semiotic and communication theories.

- Educational Management in TESOL
This module is intended for practising teachers with little or no management experience. It looks at aspects of management theory and relates these to specific ELT management contexts. Throughout the module you will be encouraged to explore the relevance of the theory to your own context. You will begin by exploring and analysing organisational structures and cultures, and their relevance to the strategic aims of any organisation. Quality, finance, marketing and human resource management will be considered from theoretical and operational perspectives. You will also explore issues around management of change and innovation. The methodology will be interactive and firmly rooted in real-life academic management contexts.

- Intercultural Communication
You will gain a greater understanding of what is happening in cross-cultural communication, and develop your ability to do it well. In the first part of the module you will examine critically different theories of the nature of cultural difference and its impact on cross-cultural interaction. You will also explore theories of the intercultural abilities needed to manage such interaction effectively. In the second part of the module you will apply these theories to specific issues in professional contexts of potential relevance, such as language teaching.

- Languages for Specific Purposes
You will examine the different requirements - in terms of needs, aspirations, and appropriate modes of instruction and assessment - of different types of language learner: adults learning for leisure and pleasure; broadly based groups, such as 'business', 'science and technology'; specific groups such as military personnel, diplomats or international train drivers; and undergraduates. You will examine and research developments in Languages or English for Specific Purposes, English for Academic Purposes and English/ Languages for Work.

- Materials Development
By developing your understanding of the theory and principles of educational attainment, this module will lead you to a critical review of language course materials. You will consider the nature of learning, and analyse learners' needs and aspirations in relation to the production of course materials. There is a strong emphasis on practical skills in this course, and you will be encouraged to produce publishable material.

- Media and Technology
This module looks at the roles of technology in teaching and pays particular attention to practical ideas and the emerging use of new technologies like Wikis, Podcasts, mySpace etc. The emphasis is on practical classroom applications and on the importance of simplicity. No knowledge of technology is required beyond basic use of email, internet and word processing.

- Sociolinguistics
You will critically explore concepts and issues in sociolinguistics, including: language in face-to-face interaction; language variation, choice, creation, planning, change, decline and death; languages and factors such as age, class, gender, ethnicity; multilingual communities; language and society; bilingualism and diglossia; casual and ritual interaction; conversational interaction focussing on issues such as linguistic politeness; oral narratives, and conversational routines; language socialisation; conversational code-switching; talk and gender. Throughout the module, attention will be paid to issues of methodology, and the most appropriate methods for studying each topic area.

- Testing and Assessment
You will examine past and current developments in language testing and assessment. This includes the role of language tests in measuring achievement and communicative proficiency, whether diagnostic, prognostic, performance or achievement. You will analyse various types of test, and have the opportunity to develop new testing materials for your own purposes.

- Translation Studies
This module aims to give you a better understanding of what translation is, how translation is a reflection of its social setting, and what goes on in the mind when a translator translates. Translation Studies has seen rapid growth in recent years, and this module reflects these developments.

The topics you will cover include: discourse analysis approaches; equivalence; historical and contemporary translation theories; loss and gain; psycholinguistic approaches; 'skopos' theory; the unit of translation; translatability; translating culture; translating ideology; translating literature and sacred texts; and translation and ICT.

- Using Literature in English Language Teaching
The module focuses on both the use of literary texts as a resource and the use of creative writing activities in the language learning classroom, by providing a working overview of useful, relevant aspects of linguistic and literary theory, and the practical demonstration of learner activities in producing and working with literary texts in the TESOL classroom. The module aims to develop your confidence and understanding of ways in which literary texts can be explored in the TESOL classroom, and the ways in which your own creative writing can be a resource for language teaching.

Associated careers

The course enables you to make substantial progress as advanced English Language Teaching practitioners and managers in a variety of national, regional and cultural educational systems. You will have the training and preparation to make significant contributions as instructors, managers and researchers.


At Westminster, we have always believed that your University experience should be designed to enhance your professional life. Today’s organisations need graduates with both good degrees and employability skills, and we are committed to enhancing your graduate employability by ensuring that career development skills are embedded in all courses.

Opportunities for part-time work, placements and work-related learning activities are widely available, and can provide you with extra cash and help you to demonstrate that you have the skills employers are looking for. In London there is a plentiful supply of part-time work – most students at the University of Westminster work part time (or full time during vacations) to help support their studies.

We continue to widen and strengthen our links with employers, involving them in curriculum design and encouraging their participation in other aspects of career education and guidance. Staff take into account the latest data on labour market trends and employers’ requirements to continually improve the service delivered to students.

Visit the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MA) page on the University of Westminster website for more details!

Entry Requirements

You are normally required to have a good first degree or equivalent. If you did not receive your first degree from a university in the UK, you will normally need to take an IELTS exam (or equivalent) and score 6.5 overall with at least 6 in each component

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