English Language and Linguistics alumni

Helen Carter, MA TEFL/TESL (2009)

Helen Carter completed the MA TEFL/TESL in 2001. She is now a tenured professor in the Department of Languages at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in Mexico.

She writes: "I really loved the fact that I had the opportunity to mix with other students from all over the world. The supportive atmosphere was really great, both fellow students and staff were incredibly helpful and we all looked out for each other. There was no competitiveness or rivalry and the atmosphere was really co-operative. I made lasting friendships.

Although the MA was significantly more challenging than undergraduate study, my supervisor never failed to help me and support me and believed in my ability 100%; that’s how I was able to achieve my goal.

After submitting my dissertation I returned to Nicaragua, where I had been living and working previously. After doing some research I finally decided to accept an offer from the university where I am currently employed; my MA was actually the main reason I was offered the position. I have been here now over twelve years and was awarded tenure some time ago.

I have since taught classes in Engineering English, Academic Reading and Writing, Information Analysis amongst many others. Due to my international teaching profile I also spent many years working in the Communication Department in the university. Over the years my position has evolved significantly and I am now responsible for translating and editing the research papers produced on campus as well as teaching. I have also spent some time working for Cambridge as an IELTS Oral Examiner."

Peter Richardson, MA Applied Linguistics (2009)

Peter Richardson completed the MA Applied Linguistics in 2009, and obtained his PhD in English Language in 2013. He is now Associate Professor of English Language in the Media and Communications Department at Hokkaido University, Japan.

He writes: "Both the MA in Applied Linguistics and the PhD in English Language gave me the opportunity to attend the classes of a wide range of lecturers with very different interests and specialisations.  I found it fascinating to explore such diverse areas as sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, psycholinguistics, language acquisition and systemic functional grammar, and then relate them back to my primary interest in cognitive linguistics.  It was also great to be able to discuss the classes and different aspects of research with such an incredible variety of fellow students.

The University of Birmingham truly is an international University, and I had the sense that the English Department attracted even more international students than other departments.  The international nature of the MA and the PhD also guaranteed a very colourful and enjoyable social life outside of the classroom.

Both my MA and PhD were invaluable in securing my current job because I was looking for a position as a University lecturer.  I also now work in a country that I have always wanted to live in ever since I was a child.  One of the most amazing things about doing a PhD in English Language is that it allows you to put a pin in just about any country in the world and to think to yourself, “I could probably find a good job there.”"

Benet Vincent, MA Applied Linguistics (2010)

Benet Vincent completed the MA Applied Linguistics in 2010 and is currently undertaking a PhD in English Language and Applied Linguistics. Alongside his PhD study, he is working at Coventry University lecturing in English for Academic Purposes.

He writes: "There were several reasons why I decided to undertake postgraduate study: many of my colleagues had MAs and encouraged me to do it; an MA tutor from Birmingham came to visit our institution and suggested I do it; I had come into contact with a lot of new ideas through my colleagues and was interested to learn more.

One of the aspects I enjoyed most was the summer school, which was a tremendous opportunity to visit Birmingham, and meet other people on the course as well as lecturers.

I found that the MA was much more focused than undergraduate study; it involved more rigour, reading around the subject and taking my own initiative. It was harder work but it also had an immediate use to me professionally.

The other opportunities and experiences I have had at Birmingham while doing my PhD, such as organising conferences, presenting to peers and at conferences, have also helped a lot."