Magdalena masters TEFL and gains distinction

Magdalena ChowaniecIt was a proud day (Monday, January 26) for Magdalena Chowaniec, as she received her MA TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) with Distinction from Swansea University.

Magdalena, aged 33, who is originally from Łętownia in south-eastern Poland but now lives in Bridgend, received her award at the University’s Winter Degree and Award Congregations held at the City and County of Swansea’s Brangwyn Hall, cheered on by her proud partner and friends.

Magdalena completed a degree in Philology (the study of language and of how languages or words develop), specialising in Applied Linguistics, before training as a teacher in Poland. She moved to the UK and to South Wales in 2011, to seek better work and career prospects and to live in an area where she already had a network of friends.

Magdalena’s ultimate ambition has always been to combine her interest in languages with her passion for education. And in 2013, she obtained Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) to teach in England and Wales, which enabled her to resume teaching after a break during which time she worked in a local restaurant while studying for the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) test at Cardiff and Vale College International.

Magdalena began studying for the one-year MA TEFL at Swansea University in autumn 2013 as a full-time student, at the University’s Department of English Language and Literature in the College of Arts and Humanities. 

The MA TEFL programme is designed to give prospective teachers of English as a foreign/second language a thorough understanding of current theories, trends, and cutting edge applied linguistics research relevant for language teaching.  The programme also aims to stimulate reflection on students’ own teaching practices.

Congratulating Magdalena on her well-deserved success Fiona Hardy, English Language Tutor in English Language Training Services at Swansea University, said: “Magdalena was my student on three MA TEFL modules and I was pleased to chart her excellent progress from a somewhat under-confident student to a poised and professional English as a Foreign Language classroom teacher. 

“What makes Magdalena stand out is her positive attitude and her genuine enthusiasm for her profession.  Her motivation to further her education led her to do a supplementary qualification during her Master’s, securing the highest grade for the Cambridge University Teaching Knowledge Test – Practical (TKT).  

“Magdalena then went on to produce one of the best pieces of work I have ever marked for the Independent Directed Learning component of the MA (the Teaching Portfolio).

“I watched her initial hesitation get replaced by positive confidence that enabled her to write with authority and originality about key aspects of English Language teaching.” 

Speaking about her positive student experience Magdalena, who now works as a supply teacher and learning support officer in local primary schools in the Bridgend area, said: “I’m so pleased that I chose Swansea for numerous reasons and undoubtedly it was the best decision of my life.

“My time in Swansea was unforgettable and strenuous – studying on a full-time programme and working to support my studies was of course difficult at times. But I was absolutely delighted at having such helpful and supportive staff that were passionate about their subjects and I can’t thank them enough.

“As long as you fully commit yourself to learning, conscientiously and meticulously, you are assured to succeed and have a great time, which I know from my personal experience.

“Over and above, I think Swansea is an excellent and forward-thinking University. I loved the fact that I could select the modules for my degree, which were relevant to my future career.”

Magdalena’s studies at Swansea also opened up a whole new area of interest for her – research – something she hadn’t considered previously.

“What I also loved about my degree was that I had an opportunity to conduct a study into the differences between the way people make apologies in the English and Polish languages,” said Magdalena.

“I loved this research experience as it gave me an opportunity to investigate a particular speech act, in-depth, from a cross-cultural perspective. I also gained practice in carrying out a research project which involved designing an instrument for data elicitation, which I found very challenging and exciting.

“Through this experience, I have been inspired to consider doing further research and to realise which area I would like to look at in the future, which is cross-cultural differences between Polish and English.”

“Magdalena was always supportive towards her fellow students when they needed encouragement, and of the volunteer students she taught for the TKT,” added Fiona Hardy.

“That generosity of spirit coupled with her modesty made her a popular member of her MA cohort. Magdalena’s story illustrates how beneficial and self-affirming an experience higher education can be when it is so well-suited to supporting a student’s professional aspirations and personal development.” 

Dr Federica Barbieri, Director of the MA TEFL at Swansea University, added: “My warmest congratulations to Magdalena for what she has accomplished during this one-year degree.

“I was delighted to see her interest in cross-cultural pragmatics grow out of a class project for the Discourse Analysis module I taught, and I wish her all the very best in all her future endeavors.”