MA Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) (distance learning)

Are you interested in a career in English language teaching?

Are you already a teacher of English and want to advance your professional standing? 

The programme is designed for practising teachers of English to speakers of other languages. It is a set of interactive course materials to complete in part-time, self-study mode over a period of at least 30 months. We also offer a full-time, on-campus programme over one year – for more information see Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages MA.

 
Dr Crayton Walker

Dr Crayton Walker

“This is an important qualification in a career in English language teaching. A masters will often qualify you to teach in university type situations. It’s often a qualification also for teachers who maybe are moving to another country further up the career ladder. And nowadays we also see an increasing number of teachers who are going on to do PhDs.”

The programme includes six taught modules and a 15,000-word dissertation on a subject of your choice, with one-to-one expert supervision.

You will study four core modules:

  • Classroom Research and Research Methods
  • Language Teaching Methodology
  • Pedagogic Grammar
  • Syllabus and Materials Design

You will also be able to choose two optional modules from a wide range. Full module information is available below.

Assessment

All core and optional modules on this course are assessed by written assignment.  You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation.

Application deadlines

The deadline for applications is one calendar month ahead of your desired entry date, to allow adequate time for your application to be processed; see 'how to apply' for further details.

Why study this course

  • Flexibility – we have multiple start dates throughout the year so you have the option of choosing when to commence your studies with us. You can study at home, in your own time and at your own pace, so you can combine achieving a qualification with other commitments. You also have the benefit of developing your career without having to leave employment.
  • Real life application – you can begin to apply new knowledge and insights to your working life whilst you are still studying. Many students even choose to tackle work-related topics in their dissertations.
  • Opportunity to attend our summer school – you will be able to attend one of our summer schools in Birmingham, Japan or Korea to learn more about the discipline and meet with academics and other students on the programme.
  • Access to excellent resources – you will have free access to the 450 million-word Bank of English corpus, and to the hardware, software and data resources held at the Centre for Corpus Research. You will also have access to the resources such as the Academic Writing Advisory Service and the Bank of Assessed Work to help with transitioning to postgraduate studies. We also have an extensive and growing range of books and journals available through the University’s online library.
  • Personal tutor – your personal tutor will be on hand to answer questions regarding the content of your programme and give further advice. You will be able to contact your personal tutor via email or telephone.
  • Excellent reputation – The Department of English Language and Linguistics is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. The distance programmes have been running for more than twenty years and have gained an excellent reputation. The online materials have been developed by experts in the field with a range of research interests and specialisms. The University has also been ranked as one of the world's top 50 institutions to study English Language and Literature in the 2018 QS World Rankings.

Modules

Core modules

You will study four core modules:

Classroom Research and Research Methods

This course introduces the main concepts and some of the techniques used in research in and into second language classrooms. This involves looking at two kinds of research traditions:

  • ‘Action’ research, which is usually qualitative, and involves examining specific classroom interactions in a single period of time, generally with the intent of modifying or improving teacher behaviour
  • Experimental research, which is quantitative, and often involves looking at linguistic or other outcomes, often independently of classroom interaction, with the purpose of making general statements about, say, how language is acquired.

In addition, considerable space is dedicated to the kinds of instruments used to examine and measure factors which influence or are part of classroom events, such as the investigation of attitudes and beliefs and the observation of interactions in the classroom.

Finally, we discuss the different variables which influence classroom interaction: the roles, strategies, and behaviours of both teachers and students. Included in these sections is a review of some of the research carried out using the different observation systems.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Language Teaching Methodology

This module gives an overview of the development of, and current approaches to, English Language Teaching (ELT) methodology, including the teaching of grammar, reading, writing, speaking and listening. The module also includes a practical introduction to classroom-based research.

The primary intention is to introduce you to a wide range of ideas, which will allow you to reflect on your own teaching experience. At the same time, in covering such a large area, the module also lays down the groundwork for a number of other modules which you will go onto study as part of this programme.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Pedagogic Grammar

This module covers the main theoretical concepts and research findings underlying the description of the grammar of the English Language and the implication these have for the teaching of grammar in the classroom.

In this module, you will consider:

  • Prescriptive and descriptive grammars
  • Research into the benefits of teaching grammar explicitly
  • How the methodologies we employ influence the way we teach grammar
  • How grammar is represented in the language syllabus
  • The debate relating to the use of authentic texts in language teaching
  • The nature of spoken English and how its grammar differs of that of written English

Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Syllabus and Materials Design

This module considers the problem of reconciling syllabus and materials design with what is known about the process of language learning and examines the attempts that established approaches to syllabus design have made to solve this problem. The module goes on to propose a more radical solution involving the establishment of a pedagogic corpus, the use of task-based methodology, and the development of analytical exercises.

This is a very practical module designed for practising teachers. It demonstrates that a syllabus is a lot more than simply a list of items at the start of a handbook.

The module introduces you to a variety of different types of syllabus such as the traditional grammatical syllabus, the lexical syllabus, the functional-notional syllabus, and the task-based syllabus. You are encouraged to look at a range of teaching situations and consider how different type of syllabus can be used to meet the needs of different types of language learner. The later parts of the module look at materials development, evaluating material and how to adapt course books so the content is ‘lifted off the page’.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Optional modules

You will also choose two optional modules from a range which typically includes:

  • Corpus Linguistics
  • English Language Teaching Management
  • Functional Grammar
  • Language and New Media
  • Language Testing
  • Multimodal Communication
  • Second Language Acquisition
  • Teaching Language to Young Learners

For more information, see our distance learning module descriptions

Dissertation

In addition to your taught modules, you will conduct a piece of independent research with the support of a supervisor, culminating in a 15,000-word dissertation.


Please note that the optional module information listed on the website for this programme is intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.

Fees and funding

This programme is charged per module.

  • Fees for 20-credit modules from October 2018-July 2019: £1,080 per module.
  • Fees for 20-credit modules from October 2019-July 2020: £1,100 per module

A fee is also payable for the dissertation - this is charged at the applicable rate for the academic year in which it is submitted. As a guide, dissertation fees are £3,300 in 2019/20.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

Entry requirements

We usually ask for a good Honours degree, or overseas equivalent. However, when considering your application, we will consider professional qualifications and work experience as well as your academic credentials. For this reason, it is important to provide details of any current and/or previous employment in your application; it is always helpful to include a current CV but please complete the relevant sections of the application form as well.

Learn more about entry requirements

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Application deadlines for this programme are as follows – 

Entry point: 1 February – application deadline 1 January
Entry point: 1 April – application deadline 1 March
Entry point: 1 July – application deadline 1 June
Entry point: 1 October – application deadline 1 September
Entry point: 1 December – application deadline 1 November

Please note: Deferral requests for this programme will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will not normally be permitted for more than one calendar year from the start date originally applied for. 

Before you make your application

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Making your application

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Course delivery

Our study materials are produced by academic staff in our department, and are available online through the University's 'virtual learning environment'. They contain aims and objectives, reading lists, summaries of readings, activities and commentaries, discussion and reflection tasks, indexes and details of assignments required. On joining you are provided with a course handbook that introduces you to the team, provides details of their roles and expertise and gives all the contact information you will need so that if you have any difficulties or questions you will know who to contact for help and guidance.

Although much of the course is delivered through the virtual learning environment, support is always available. You will have a personal tutor and dissertation supervisor to guide you and answer any questions, and you will be able to consult academic staff in Birmingham via Skype.

We also run week-long face-to-face seminars in the summer. These are free, and open to all distance TESOL students.

Each module represents up to 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, assignment preparation and independent study.

Distance learning in the College of Arts and Law

For more information on distance learning including answers to frequently asked questions, student experiences and funding opportunities, please see our distance learning website

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.

The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver local support.

In addition to a range of campus-based events and workshops, Careers Network provides extensive online resources, and comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: English Language and Applied Linguistics

Birmingham's English Language and Applied Linguistics postgraduates develop a broad range of transferable skills that are highly valued by employers, particularly in relation to verbal and written communication. They also develop crucial skills in organisation, time management, analysis and interpretation of information.

Many of our graduates enter roles for which their programme has prepared them, such as teaching and lecturing; others use their transferable skills in a wide range of occupations including journalism, marketing and events.