Name: Ruben Gaete Mella
Year of Graduation: 2020
Home country: Chile
Why did you choose to study at the University of Nottingham?
During my undergraduate degree and teaching experiences, I had noticed that there was a lack of investment in technology in my country. I realised that technology was only used to display information and teachers did very little to maximise those technologies to help improve students’ communication skills/competence. I chose the University of Nottingham because it enabled me to understand why that was happening and give me space to rethink how I could use technology in my teaching. Moreover, the modules were enticing as they covered all the necessary areas for the analysis of what I wanted to improve. It is no surprise that the University is highly ranked in the UK and around the globe.
I was also interested in the fact that I could study another language alongside my course. This was very beneficial for my career because speaking another language is highly valued in my country. It provides another way of understanding the linguistic structures and cultural features of different countries.
How has the course helped you in your career?
Although it is quite early to make any judgments about the efficiency of finding a job due to the pandemic, I am confident I will find a better job than the one I had. I believe that the new skills I have gained will enable me to apply for roles related to teaching, such as management and teacher training courses.
I think the course has given me the tools to carry out research in a professional way. The tutors fostered my skills, allowing me to develop my career into a completely new direction. I hope to make good use of these skills to solve issues in language teaching in my country.
Was there a particular modules that you enjoyed the most?
I found all the modules helpful but in different ways. ‘Materials and Technology in Language Education’ was the module I enjoyed the most. Although professional development was my main reason for choosing the course, I believe that learning about technologies and their use in language teaching was a fruitful experience. I used to think that technologies for language learning seemed to be inherently enjoyable, but it is a double-edged sword when one closely analyses it. Restating one’s perspective and impressions about technology and finding out that, “not every technology is worth trying in every teaching context” was the most enjoyable moment. In simple words, I loved this module because it opened my eyes and made me realise that I should think twice whenever I make a pedagogical decision.
I also took a German module and the English Language Support for Refugees, which is a module offered by Nottingham Advantage Award. This module gave me the greatest memories from my time studying. While with the German module I could improve my linguistic abilities and feel again what it is like to be a language learner, the English Language Support for Refugees saw me take the teaching role. The experience was a highlight of my teaching career because I was able to see what it is like to be a teacher in another country. It also enabled me to meet people from different cultural backgrounds so that I learnt socio-cultural aspects, which one could not easily find in a regular class. In other words, it was a complete and fascinating experience from a student and teacher perspective.
What do you want to do now you've completed your degree? What are your plans for the future?
I want to put in practice the new skills I have learnt. My course has taught me several teaching and research skills that I will be able to deploy once I find a job. In the short term, I would like to start teaching in different schools so that I have a broad perspective of the Chilean education. In the long-term, I would like to investigate my teaching and broaden my studies, hopefully to get a doctorate in language teaching.
What was the best part of the course?
The dissertation. It was the most challenging part and required a lot from me as a student and as a professional. It was the part of the course where you see your abilities reach the peak of thinking and practicing. I personally believe that the dissertation allowed me to apply what I had learnt in real life, and that is the most interesting part of all. When it comes to experimenting and proving one’s idea, you see that the previous process of reading, analysing, and concluding from theory is worth every second you spend on it. The convergence of modules to prepare you for the final process is inconceivable at the very beginning. But, in the end, I think it was the most enriching experience because I felt I grew up. Completing my dissertation meant that I can do anything if I try my best and fully apply myself.
Why do you think students should come to the University of Nottingham to study this course?
The strongest point is the teaching quality. I felt that I grew and improved my academic abilities and critical thinking. The tutors encourage you to think and observe in order to create solutions rather than issues. It was also very motivating that one topic led to another so smoothly and that I found myself with a lot of information to work with.
At times, I did feel a bit homesick, but the words of my tutor supported and helped me finish my course. The tutors are constantly motivating you to keep your head above water and be consistent in reaching your goals; their dedication makes you love the course and the University more.
The facilities were also very important for the development of my studies. Huge libraries provided me with access to all sorts of information for either leisure, study, or research. They also provide you with a safe and harmonious place to work. I could easily book a room to study alone or just pop in and choose a place with a low noise level to concentrate. The online library also helped me to study remotely as I could read the course textbooks online.
The online experience is also a great one. Moodle is such a nice and safe tool, which organised my assignments and texts. Apart from telling me when I had to turn in my work, I could also participate in forums and comment on topics from lectures with my classmates. We also had access to Microsoft Teams, which was very useful during the pandemic.
Anything else you'd like to add about the course or your time in Nottingham?
Nottingham is a special place. It has a warm learning environment with tutors who are happy to help you. The city is simply wonderful. It has many places where you can find the hidden history of the Nottingham and how it has evolved over time.