5 things I wish I’d known before my MA

I’ve spent the past two years studying part-time for my MA at King’s College London.  I finished it this summer and just got my dissertation back this week (if you’re interested, you can read the full thing here: Patsko_MA_2013 and – update from spring 2014 – click here to read about the recognition it received!).

I guess that means I’m now officially a master (mistress?) of ELT & Applied Linguistics!

Looking back and reflecting on the whole experience, there are quite a few lessons I learnt along the way, other than things directly related to the course content.

Here are my top 5.

1. How to use the literature

At the top of my list is the thing which easily caused me the most (avoidable) stress throughout the whole MA programme.

I don’t consider myself a great reader–not because I have any specific difficulty, but more because I have a short attention span and limited patience when reading.  And these traits aren’t best suited to processing complex academic texts after a long week at work, let alone synthesising their main ideas and forming some sort of argument for a 3,500-word essay.  Studying for an MA requires a lot of reading, and I found that also brought a lot of frustration.

It took me a while to appreciate that if you’re reading something and finding it incredibly hard to digest, you shouldn’t just assume it’s your fault, that you’re just stupid or can’t read academic prose.  It may well be the writer’s fault, so to speak.  If something is really that hard to wrap your head around, it’s probably just not written particularly well.

And on a related note, I found that when reading some academics’ work, I needed to refer to dictionaries surprisingly often (or use Google’s excellent ‘define’ function – just type “define” and then whatever word(s) you want to look up into the search bar), and not just at the beginning of the MA.

There is a hell of a lot of very specific jargon in the various sub-fields of applied linguistics (e.g. epistemology, heuristics, praxis), not to mention more than a few writers who are unhelpfully and unnecessarily pompous in their choice of vocabulary, in my view.  Even with a good dictionary to hand, my tolerance was pushed to the limit by phrasing such as:

“This is no place to enter into the subtleties of glottodidactic lapsology”

(Read: “In this paper, I’m not going to talk about what ‘error’ means in language education.”)

I won’t name and shame the person who wrote that… I’m over it now.

But just generally, I found it hard to know how to read academically, which we didn’t get any guidance on (though we did get lots of really useful input on academic writing).  I felt like I had a neverending list of things to read and just couldn’t remember all the authors and all their ideas, even if I tried to space out my reading and do a little bit every week.

One thing that helped me, silly though it is, was to create a sort of ‘wall of fame’.  I find it much easier to associate people’s ideas with their faces, not just random names in a journal!  So I googled some of the key writers in the field that I was studying and wrote brief notes next to their pictures to help me remember what they’d written about, then stuck them on my wall:

Who's Who

Who’s Who

I created this out of desperation, because nothing else was working, because I just felt overwhelmed by the amount of information I was trying to take in and the feeling that I couldn’t keep track of it all in any simple way.  But it proved surprisingly effective, and made me feel like these were real people, not that different from me, and not just faceless academics in some ivory tower somewhere.

I also learned (far too late) that it’s not necessary to read everything in-depth, cover-to-cover.  After a few months of study, a friend of mine suggested a simple reading strategy which I actually adopted and found really useful:

    1. Just read the abstract (for articles) or introduction and conclusion (for articles/books).
    2. Then decide if you really need/want to read the rest (and for books, which specific chapters).
    3. When you’ve read an entire article/chapter/book, write a paragraph/page of brief notes summarising only the key points, with page numbers for very specific claims/quotations (this will help you to go back and find more if you decide later that this text is something crucial to an argument you’re developing).  Limit yourself to one A4 side: this will force you to be really succinct and capture the essence of the writer’s argument.

I also didn’t realise at the start of the MA the importance of journal articles (i.e. not just books!).  In fact, I read a comment somewhere about how any MA student thinking they’ll produce a good essay based solely on book literature is not going to get the best mark.  Lots of academics publish their research and develop their ‘career arguments’, so to speak, by means of peer-reviewed journal articles, and these may well be hugely influential in the field.

Once you have waded through the vast history of academics who’ve come before you, you’re supposed to use the essays and dissertation on the MA to ‘find your own academic voice’.  I really struggled with this at first.  I used to think, “Who am I to comment on/challenge the literature?  This guy’s got god-knows-how-many-PhD students reporting to him; surely he knows what he’s doing and I should remember my place!”  But it’s OK to critique.  And you have to, in order to find your own line of argument, to situate yourself within the academic community, and to justify your interpretation of the ideas of others in your field.

And one last point on this topic: it took me some time to really appreciate the notion of evolution of thought; as in, the guy who wrote a paper in 1985 might not hold the same views as his 2005 self!  Before you hastily critique (or indeed, criticise) something someone else has written, read some of their other work and compare it.  See if they themselves have already identified strengths and weaknesses of their earlier work.  Have they moved on since then?  How? etc.

2. What research really looks like

Ohhh, the dissertation…

My dissertation took up a good 8-9 months of my life in total, from getting going with the initial idea and getting ethical approval to it being printed, bound and submitted.  As in many MAs in ELT/TESOL/Applied Linguistics, it was research-based.  That meant I had to figure out how to do rigorous academic research at master’s level, then actually do it, then write about it (and, it goes without saying, be happy with what I’d done and how I’d presented it).

probably not actually Dr. Dörnyei

probably not actually Dr. Dörnyei

Research Methods in Applied Linguistics‘ was my bible for much of the research process.  In fact, I think I’m a little bit in love with Zoltán Dörnyei.  Some disappointingly impassive reviewer on Amazon describes this masterpiece as “absolutely okay”.  The accompanying 5-star rating makes up for that rather sober evaluation, and I guarantee you, £20 + free postage to get your hands on this baby is money well spent.

That said, even despite Dörnyei’s refreshingly clear and down-to-earth writing style, and his many excellent pointers on how to actually conduct research (not just waffling about why it’s important, blah blah blah), I still wondered sometimes if I was doing things right.

Of course, there’s no one way to conduct research, as there are so many different possible research questions and everybody has their own style and approach.

But far from the ‘laptop, textbook and Starbucks on a Sunday’ image of postgraduate writing that I’d somehow got in my head, my own approach to organising my data, collating my findings, identifying research themes and synthesising the elements into a cohesive argument ended up looking a bit crazy at times:

transcribing and analysing interview data

Not much difference between this and a padded cell?

I spent a small fortune on Post-it notes, and did find them very helpful (one colour per theme, and then you can physically move key ideas around, group them, work out the order in which you’re going to present them, etc.).

library tweet

Driven to distraction (in the form of Twitter).

I also learned just how intolerant I am to background noise when I’m trying to concentrate, and I honestly have no idea how some of my fellow MA students managed to get any work done when they had small children to raise as well as essays to write!

Within 6 months of starting the MA, I’d acquired a good pair of earplugs and a set of those gigantic earmuff-headset-things that builders use (seriously) because I just couldn’t hear myself think with noisy neighbours, people gossiping loudly in the library and London emergency services’ sirens going on and on all the time.

And one final thing I learned about the nature of research, in particular when it involves qualitative interview data: it’s not always necessary to transcribe fully!  Learning this saved me sooooo much time and stress.  I was drowning in 10 hours’ worth of interview recordings and felt like I’d been thrown a life jacket.

In applied linguistics research, if you are planning to do a ‘deep’ or ‘thick’ discourse analysis, for example, for an ethnographic study, then you will probably need to transcribe every bit of your interviews in considerable detail, potentially including such minute details as intonation and pauses (timed to the second).  But if–like me–you’re using interview data as a resource (as opposed to using it as a topic itself), you can potentially just listen to your interviews a few times, take notes on the key themes, then transcribe illustrative portions.

taking notes

Note-taking from interview recordings. Coffee + Post-its = compulsory study aids.

I was so afraid of not seeming thorough or rigorous enough if I didn’t transcribe everything, and I couldn’t find any reference in any literature to suggest it was possible to take a different approach.  So it took me a long time to accept this alternative approach.  But my tutor was incredibly helpful and supportive and in the end I took her advice and still got a very good mark for my dissertation, despite ‘only’ having transcribed key sections of my data (which still amounted to some 100 pages, from which I then selected only the most important quotations to feature in the body of the actual dissertation).

3. What other resources were available to me

There were two very useful resources that I didn’t exploit enough: first, my coursemates; and second, other libraries.

I spent the vast majority of the course feeling completely overworked and exhausted.  This was partly because I wasn’t just studying part-time but also working full-time.  I regret not making more of an effort to join my coursemates in the pub after lectures now and again, because I honestly just wanted to get home to bed.

On the odd occasions that I did go along, or perhaps met a coursemate for a coffee before lectures, it added an incredibly valuable social element to the course.  Aside from just meeting some great people and making new friends, it was really reassuring to talk through our research plans, what we’d thought of the set readings for various modules, what feedback we’d got on our essays, etc.  It can feel a bit lonely doing MA work, especially on the dissertation, because you spend so much time doing independent reading and writing.  But it needn’t be so isolating–you just have to make an effort to enjoy the community of like-minded people who are also on your course.

The second resource I wish I’d discovered earlier was the collection of other libraries I could access.  I actually had no trouble finding most books and articles that I needed until I started my dissertation, when my bibliography became much more specific and King’s didn’t have everything I needed.  As King’s is part of the University of London, I could apply to use all related libraries, such as the Institute of Education Library and Senate House:

© Laura Patsko

Senate House: didn’t find the literature I needed, but loved the Art Deco.

I also registered for a reader pass at the British Library, conveniently located in London (like me).  This meant I could request books and articles which I just couldn’t find anywhere else.  Some of these ended up being key references in my dissertation.

There were some disadvantages: they didn’t have everything, and when they did have what I wanted, sometimes I had to wait 48 hours for it to be delivered, and in any case I could only ever read them on-site (you’re not allowed to borrow – hence the dedicated ‘reading rooms’).  But just being able to get hold of the actual texts I needed was obviously incredibly valuable.

4. How many times I’d say, “Hurrah, it’s done!!!”

Finished (c. the 5th time)

Finished (c. the 5th time)

Again, the dissertation… I’m so glad I got started on this early.  After having my first research idea rejected, I got started on what became my final research project in March 2013.  In July, I finished my write-up.  Then through the rest of July and August, I ‘finished’ it about 10 more times!

First, you write the whole thing.

Then you get feedback on it (in my case, from both my supervisor and other willing friends).  A few rounds of this and you finally think you’re done with it.

Then you have to actually get the thing ready to print.  This alone must have taken me at least 5 hours (spread over a few days), what with page numbering, proof-reading, triple-checking all the section headings and figuring out how to combine portrait, landscape, A4 and A3 pages all in one PDF document for electronic submission.  OK, now you’re finished with it… right?

Then you get it printed.  At least two copies of it.  And you go back and check every single page again, making sure both copies are ready to be permanently bound.  (Then you reprint the pages you somehow managed to smudge or crease, and spend 30 minutes swearing and putting the newly printed pages in the right places, then checking it all again.)

The nice lady at the binder’s has to nearly pry the printed documents from your trembling hands, promising you over her shoulder as she runs away that they do this every day and it’ll all come out fine.

Then you collect it from the binder’s, check every page again, insert any extra bits (accompanying CDs, in my case), and take it to uni to hand it in.  You guard it with your life on the Tube, sure this will be the one time in your life that you drop your bag in the gap between the train and the platform.

You hand it in.  It takes 5 seconds.  You feel a distinct sense of anticlimax.

And you still don’t feel like you’ve really finished till you get it back, with feedback–two months later.

5. The effects of the MA on the rest of my life

I stress too much about assignments.  I’ve always been this way; I thought I’d grown out of it; I hadn’t.

I seriously underestimated the toll the workload would take on my life in general.  Studying part-time, working full-time and trying to have any sort of normal social life is incredibly difficult.  Other people on my course seemed to handle this balance better.  I wish I knew how they did it.

I learned the hard way that it’s important to get into a good work-study-rest-play lifestyle from the start, to make sure that you don’t spend too much time on one of those things to the detriment of the others.  Far too late, I decided to reduce my teaching hours slightly, plan nights out and weekends away so I’d have breaks to look forward to, and take up running a few times a week (in order to get into some kind of healthy diet+exercise routine).  Healthy body, healthy mind.

This also affected me financially.  The MA itself set me back a few thousand hard-earned pounds, but reducing my working hours, taking a month’s unpaid leave to work on my research, plus countless other expenses here and there (textbooks, coffees, train tickets to get out of London sometimes and clear my head)… it all added up to a much more expensive experience than I’d originally anticipated.  I’m sure it’ll be worth it in the long run, but I wish I’d saved a bit more beforehand.

So what have I really learned?

Ultimately, if I had to go back and do it all again, I wouldn’t take it all so seriously.  I mean, I would still work hard–and it would still be worth it–but I would try not to let it take over my whole life.  About 4 months before my deadline, I found out that a friend of mine had been given about 4 months to live.  At that point, I realised that even if I got a distinction in every assignment, I was still being an idiot.  It finally hit home what a waste of precious time and energy it is to stress so much over marks.  Life’s too short.

I’d chosen to do an MA because I wanted to learn, not just study.  And, all things considered, I learned a lot.  Not just about ELT and applied linguistics, but about myself.  And at least one very important thing hasn’t changed: I still absolutely love what I do.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Sandra, teacher and friend.


11.9.56 – 30.9.13


About Laura Patsko

Teacher trainer, language learner, language teacher, linguist, researcher. Not necessarily in that order.


  1. What an amazing post! 🙂 Congratulations on finishing (and in style by the sounds of things!) And I’m so sorry to hear about your friend.
    I think this post should be compulsory pre-M.A. reading! So good on you for taking the time to write it.
    Good luck with whatever comes next!
    Lizzie x

    • Thanks Lizzie! Glad you found it useful. All things considered, I enjoyed the MA and am really glad I did it, but I did find it very full-on. I hope my experiences & learnings can help others who might be just starting out. 🙂

      • For me, it would have been tres useful this time last year! I’ve also recently finished my M.A. – but in ELT rather than Applied Linguistics. …I think it will be very useful for anyone starting out for sure. 🙂

  2. P.S. Love all the photos!

  3. gemmalunn

    Hi, Laura. Firstly, so sorry to hear about your friend, certainly puts things in perspective.
    Thanks for this post, your timing is perfect for me, especially love the wall of fame and reading tips as it’s something myself and course mates are struggling to get the hang of at the moment! (Have sent this on to my course mates as sure it’ll be really useful for to too)

    Thanks and well done!


    • Glad you found the post useful! That’s exactly why I wrote it. About a month into the dissertation, I started taking pics of the study process because I knew I’d want to remember how it went and share the experience afterwards (always assuming I’d survived, of course!). 🙂 There are so many other things worth sharing, too, but 5 seemed enough for one post! Maybe I’ll do a sequel…

  4. Hi Laura, what a great post. I too wish that I had read something like this before doing my MA, and agree that it should be essential reading for new MA students. I love what you said about seeing pictures of authors because I was exactly the same – I found it so much easier to relate to authors after having seen a picture of them. I also liked to search for videos so that I could hear them speak, and then when I was reading their work, I would kind of read it in my head to their voice – strange, but it seemed to work for me. I agree with you about Dornyei as well. I did my dissertation on motivation, so spent many hours reading his work. I probably chose my topic because reading his books was so enjoyable. Congratulations on completing your course, and good luck for the future now that you have your life back!

    • Thanks very much, David! I also found videos of authors speaking about their work really helpful. As you say, hearing someone’s ideas (as opposed to just reading them) somehow helped me make more sense of them.

  5. Aidan Curley

    Thanks for this post. I’m currently doing an MA in ELT and ‘looking forward to’ my dissertation next spring. I took your advice and bought the Dörnyei book, using your link (I hope you get something from Amazon for that).
    I will refer back to this a few more times I’m sure, but for now I’m off to wander through the rest of your blog.
    Thanks again

    • Ah, damn, didn’t even think of the Amazon thing! Oh well, I at least have the satisfaction of sharing Dr Dörnyei with someone else who will benefit from his brilliance. 🙂 Best of luck with your dissertation. Just try to enjoy it as a learning process; then the studying process will fall into place automatically.

  6. This was just the post I needed to read at this time. I’m just at the beginning of figuring out my dissertation topic and honestly, it’s taken me months to get past the initial broad topic stage (I’m still not past it now). I’ve dreaded this part of the MA for two years and now that it’s here, I’ve been more frustrated, overwhelmed and on the verge of mental breakdowns more times than any other time before it. Thanks for the advice you’ve put in throughout this post. I know I can do it, and my support group of friends always say so, but in the end I just have to sink my teeth (and time) into it.

    • Hi Tyson,

      Glad you found it useful! As for the topic-narrowing stage, I’m not sure how things work wherever you’re studying, but we had to submit a proposal as early as possible so the department could check if we were trying to bite off more than we could chew. And what’s more, though my whole dissertation took some 8-9 months from start to finish, the eventual title wasn’t decided until a week before binding. So you’ll probably find that your scope changes a bit while you’re working on it anyway, and you won’t be bound to a specific title. Your supervisor should be able to help you manage the scope during the actual research process.

      Believe me, I completely empathise with that feeling of being on the brink of nervous collapse! But it is doable – just focus on your own project, forget what others are doing around you, and make sure you take some time off now and again. That was one of my biggest mistakes – I always felt like I couldn’t spare even 5 minutes because I had so much to do, and there was always more I could be doing. But your brain is no use when it’s totally burnt out, so be sure to REST once in a while! 🙂

      All the best with it,

  7. Ahmed Mukhtar Abdelaziz

    Hi Laura,

    I love this post! It is realistic in tone, and it analytically expesses how an MA working person would feel:-)
    Congrtulations on getting thd degree.

    Thank you,


  8. This is a fabulous and honest post! You had me at point 1. The irony of making one’s piece of writing incomprehensible when the general focus is communication really annoys me! Lovely post. Sandra would’ve loved it (and taken you out for a celebratory drink) x

  9. magda

    Hi Laura,
    A really interesting post – thank you. I’m also at King’s, in my second year, so will be embarking on writing a dissertation soon.. Keep on writing!
    Best wishes,

    • Hi Magda,
      Thanks for those comments. I really hope the advice is useful. Do feel free to get in touch if you have any questions/thoughts at any point. Sometimes it’s just good to know what experiences other people have had!
      Good luck with it,

  10. Hi Laura,
    This blog and all that you’ve written here is absolutely fabulous!! Thanks a lot for sharing your ideas, experiences and moments. (So sorry about your friend, yet I am sure she was proud of such a talented person like you).
    I am currently doing this MA at King’s College and so far I am enjoying it a lot! (I work part-time as well but I do have time to go to the after-class meetings at the pub with classmates and they are just the best!). Tomorrow they are giving us our first assignments back (they just came up with a new assignment this year: Grammar and Lexis) and I am a bit worried about the outcome…let’s see…
    Anyway, I will come to this blog every now and then so I can stop freaking out and start to realize that this MA is possible. 🙂
    Best regards.

    • Thanks for your comment! Glad you found it helpful. Hang in there – you’ll make it to the end. Just take it as a learning experience and you’ll enjoy it and get more out of it, whatever marks you get. 🙂

  11. Martin Johnston

    Hi Laura

  12. Martin Johnston

    Oops… sorry I didn’t mean to click post there (not off to the best of starts!).

    I’m thinking of doing an MA in Applied Linguistics and TESOL at London Met, but I’m starting to worry about a few things. Firstly: if I’ll be able to do it! I graduated in Economics in 2007, so I don’t have much experience writing long papers (in fact I did not even do a dissertation, I just did more exams). I worked in banking for a few years, but then I moved to Italy where I taught English for 3 years. Despite being mother tongue, I can honestly say that my grasp of English was appalling at that point. I soon learnt though and now I understand how the language works, but I’m still worried about having to understand (and write) difficult papers etc.

    I am also worried about job prospects afterwards. Since returning from Italy in the summer, I’ve been working at an Italian Law firm which I don’t really enjoy. I enjoyed teaching when I was in Italy, but I came back as I could not really see any stable career.

    I’m planning on doing the MA full-time at London Met and I have been accepted. I have also seen that the university is not considered such a great uni which is another concern. I’m interested in linguistics and would enjoy the course, but I’m not sure if that is enough.

    I was wondering if you could offer any advice? As you can see by the fact that it’s Christmas day and I’m here researching the course… I’m a bit stressed about it!

    Anyway, any info you have would be great (and I hope you’re having a great Christmas!)

    • Hi Martin

      Ah, a fellow worrier… sorry to hear you’re so stressed about starting your MA! I know the feeling, but you’ll get there in the end if you put in the work and just try to enjoy it. Focus on the learning, not the studying, and you’ll get more from it.

      As for London Met, I don’t know much about them as a university, I’m afraid, and haven’t heard about their TESOL MA course. I actually taught a bit of pre-sessional English there a few years ago but that was my only involvement with them. Unless you want a long-term career in academia, however, I think having an MA in TESOL (or whatever the title is) from any major London university will look good on your CV.

      In terms of academic writing, the single best piece of advice I could give you for your essays is to write about what you love. If you’re given the option of picking your own essay title/question, take it. I got my best marks for writing about things that were truly, directly related to me, my interests, my practice. When I answered a standard question from the list of suggestions offered by the tutor, I think my lower level of genuine interest in the arguments & conclusions I was formulating came through in the final piece.

      Good luck with it!

      P.S. Sorry for the slow reply – been on holiday!

  13. James Devereux

    Thanks for this fantastic and illuminating post Laura! I’m taking all this advice to heart at I enter the final leg of my MA from here in Tokyo. I had a little LOL on your comparison of Dörnyei to George Clooney, though I understand how his crystal clear prose could make you feel this way towards him 😉 Hope you are well and having a happy new year!

    • James, great to hear from you again! Didn’t know you were doing your MA in Tokyo, though I did remember you saying something about Japan… hope it’s going well. I’m sure you’re doing just fine.

      Ah, Zoltán Dörnyei… the man, the myth, the legend. What a great help he was. Is your dissertation research-based? If so, check out his book(s)!

      A very happy new year to you & all the best with the studies.

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  16. Rosario

    Thanks for this post. Made me cry! I’m really feeling it, the intensity, as I approach the Delta (Module 1) exam.

    Thanks for sharing!

  17. Hey Laura…ditto! I never got my masters (did the CELTA, tho) and have regretted it…but not too much. I think this post should be de rigeur for all those contemplating/embarking. In fact, I hope you’ve shared it with every professor, in your MA program and well, in the rest of the world. It should be required reading…be it skimmed or “post it-ed”. Thanks!

    • Thanks Susie! I’ll actually be presenting on this topic at this year’s English UK Teachers’ Conference on 1 Nov so hopefully some people will be able to come who have just started their masters & need some pointers!

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  20. Andrew Pritchett

    Thanks for your insightful post! I totally get what you’re saying – I’m halfway through a part-time MA TESOL at IOE and about to start my dissertation. It’s hard juggling work, life and study. I find writing the most challenging, although I’ve found it easier with practice. Having said that, I’ve found the whole experience really stimulating and enjoyable!

    • Hi Andrew
      Thanks for your comments! I agree that writing gets easier with practice. The trick sometimes is just to stop procrastinating, sit down, shut up & write! Had to give myself a good kick now and again to get going but eventually ended up much more comfortable with it, just because I’d done more of it.
      Glad you found the post useful & hope your MA continues to go well.

  21. Julie Butters

    Hi Laura,

    Just want to thank you for your post. I am just beginning the dissertation, and Nick Andon suggested to us all that we read your blog. Its been a great help!!! Some of your key bits of advice I will certainly take on board and some of it I can already relate to.

    Thanks again

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  23. zakaria

    Hi Laura

    Great Post,!! also found the feedback you have written to some of the readers really useful. thanks a lot!

  24. Muhammed

    Thank you Laura, I’m going to preparing my MA about applied langustic – Arabic Language.
    All the best,

  25. Ozma Siddiqui

    A most heartening post! I was rather disappointed I couldn’t log into your Webinar on the Cambridge website yesterday as I was still awaiting the email confirmation. My daughter is also looking forward to joining the MA TESOL program at Central Connecticut State University, USA and this post will definitely help her to begin thinking about what she is up against and how to deal with it. It is seldom that one comes across such an honest appraisal of oneself. Good luck! Ozma

  26. roberttaylorefl

    Reblogged this on roberttaylorblog.

  27. The ending is really beautiful. (Tears) Thanks for writing this amazing post!

  28. geoffjordan

    Excellent post. You make some really helpful points about dealing with the reading load. I’ve recommended this to all those doing the MA TESL at Leicester Uni.

    • Hi Geoff – great, thanks for sharing it. Hope your students find it useful! They’re welcome to get in touch here if they’ve got further thoughts or questions.

  29. Saleena Gil

    Hi Laura,
    I have just started my MA TESOL and I must say your post is extremely useful. hats off. I’m speechless on this. please accept my condolences to your friend.

  30. Dyla

    I would really like to thank you for this amazinggggg post! Condolences to your friend. I am not in the start of my dissertation proposal. I used to have a clear mind of what I want to do but somehow when writing the proposal itself, I kinda beating around the bush. As I am an international student doing a full time MA in TESOL, I feel overwhelmed of the situation. I want to excel in my studies and yet I want to experience the culture here. Reading this post makes me feel I am not alone in this journey. Thanks!!

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