Master’s Classes at Alcalá

Since I have no real comparison to Master’s classes at an American university, I’ll try and be as descriptive as possible so you guys know what you’re in store for. As I’ve written elsewhere, this year (at least) we go to Alcalá every Friday from 3:30 to 8:30. We have a total of 8 classes, besides the thesis which technically counts as a class as well. We take one class at a time for four sessions and then move on to the next.

Horarios Master in Bilingual and Multicultural Education

Here is a page from my schedule. You can see “thesis meeting” spliced a lot of times throughout. These are sessions for giving out info to everyone pertaining to both the Portfolio and Thesis. A couple of them were actually meetings but were, rather, time slots where you could schedule to meet with the adviser. The “online” portions are actually scheduled. You have the whole week to do whatever work you have to; it’s not limited to certain windows during the week and there are no online classes where video is streamed and you have to watch.

There are three divisions within Teach and Learn. My program, Bilingual Education, is the biggest; we have about 25 students. I think my program is the biggest because of the option to get the TEFL after the course. I actually chose Bilingual Ed for this reason but decided against doing it because I felt like there wouldn’t be enough time because of the Thesis and Portfolio. (More on that later). The other two are International Ed. and Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language. All three, from what I understand, are pretty different, but we do share a couple of classes, “English as a Global Language” for instance.

I have found the majority of the classes interesting but not as challenging you might expect from the Master’s program. One reason is that we work full time in addition to our classes. For that reason, the Master’s classes are usually pretty low on my list of stresses. I always take care of my lessons first, then I tend to get around to doing the Master’s work. I can do all the work, even though much of it is pretty time consuming, pretty easily. Because of the schedule of classes being what it is, much of the work this year has been shifted to outside of class, or so I’m told. Another thing of note is that there are no text books, per se. The teacher brings in photocopies of most things we need but there are quite a few longer texts put online for us to read.

A few classes had quite a bit of lecturing, but the majority have had tons of group and class discussion. There is usually a final project due for, or within a week of, the last session. It could be a group project/presentation or a big written assignment to be turned in on Blackboard, which is Alcalá’s online platform. There’s a good chance you used it as an undergrad or perhaps you used Canvas, or something else.In short, the Master’s classes themselves are a huge cause for concern.

There real concerns are making lessons, the Portfolio & the Thesis. I turned in the Portfolio six days ago and I still feel a high about it. It probably took about 100 hours in total. This tome is basically a combination of two things: a teacher’s portfolio, highlighting who you are and how you teach, and a reflection about the program and your placement. When it’s finished, it has to be printed and spiral-bound as well as put on a CD. In theory it’s not too difficult to do. However, we found the directions to be confounding at time. We didn’t receive a rubric on what the portfolio’s contents were until late February, when we’d been working on it since October. Instead, we had a powerpoint presentation with probably the majority of information we needed but not organized especially well. In the end, mine was 30 pages, the majority of which was written. We had initially received information that the portfolio was to be about that length, but, like many things, I’m just not too sure. I half expect to be notified soon that I’ll have to redo it just to make it longer.

And finally, Thesis. We had two options for this. We could do curriculum design OR a research project. I opted for research. There has been a lot of talk about this Master’s and whether its “legit” or “real.” All I can say is that not every Master’s in the US requires research so, when I did this, it made the Master’s real enough to me. The thesis is 50 pages minimum, which wouldn’t be all that bad except it’s not double-spaced, it’s only 1.5″. Furthermore, it’s on Spanish paper (A4) which is longer. I guesstimate that, if on American paper and double spaced, it’s actually about 70 pages, or more. You have the whole year (technically) to do it, but realistically you can’t start your research until after Christmas and ours is due 16 May (after a 3 week extension 🙂  This leaves you about four months to do the research and write the 35 or so pages. It’s doable for sure, but I’ll be spending a good portion of Semana Santa typing.

14 thoughts on “Master’s Classes at Alcalá

  1. Hi Brandon,

    I’m glad to have found your blog. I am applying to this program but am a bit doubtful as I could not find much information about this program.
    Would you recommend it?
    You did write a bit about the classes but would you be able to tell me a bit about the program/school/staff?

    Thanks so much!

    • Rachel, I totally forgot to respond-sorry! I assume you mean you’re thinking about applying for the 2015-2016 year, right? I’m pretty sure their done all the placements for next year.

      • Hi Brandon,
        Actually I got an extension and was just accepted into the program today.
        Still unsure about the program.

  2. I’m thinking about attending the masters program but I’ve heard so many mixed reviews. What did you actually find useful and applicable from your education? Would you recommend it to someone who has taught several years. I have a BS in theatre Education & Tefl Certified, as well as taught in China and Korea.

    • Jennifer, it seems like the international Ed program would be of use to you, although I didn’t do that one. My roommate did, however, and it focused on teaching at schools like you be already done. Methodologically, I’m not sure I learned an immense amount to help me in the classroom. Some tips here and there. A lot of theory, some of which I learned as an under grad (bs in foreign language Ed). The best thing I got was the experience in the classroom, which it sounds like you’ve already had a lot of.

      • Would you mind asking your friend if I could speak to them about their experience since they did that particular program? Thanks.

    • I am currently enrolled in the Master in Teaching program. There is not a lot of information and I think that is on purpose and also problematic. I wish I had found this blog sooner. Brandon, I would be curious about your assessment of some of these findings:

      1. Instituto Franklin at the University of Alcalá is deceptive and misleading.
      2. They disguise their Master’s Programs which have no official accreditation.
      3. They mislead students that using Foreign Credential Evaluation Service leads to accreditation of their degree.

      As educators and researchers of Bilingual Education and American Studies since 1987, it is absolutely shameful.

      As continual administrators for foreign student programs, they jeopardize academic and professional careers of their students.

      As of 2016-2017, at the master’s level, only the Master’s in American Studies is officially accredited.

      All “Teach and Learn” Programs have no official accreditor:

      1. Master in Teaching (No Official Accreditor)
      2. Master in International Education (No Official Accreditor)
      3. Master in Bilingual and Multicultural Education (No Official Accreditor)
      4. Master in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language (No Official Accreditor)

      These 4 programs are called “university accredited,” which is part of the deception. The University of Alcalá might be officially accredited. But universities are NOT official accreditors.

      The official accreditor IS the Agencia Nacional de Evaluación de la Calidad y Acreditación (ANECA) in conjunction with the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport (MECD).

      These 4 Instituto Franklin programs are NOT officially accredited. That is what “university accredited” means.

      “University accredited” is misleading jargon that allows them to hijack the word “accredited.” There is no official credit in such programs.

      The university can approve the existence of the course. True. This is stating the obvious function of a university. Essentially, “universities administer courses.” Yes they do.

      “University accredited” is a front for false conveyance of equivalency.

      It permits misdirection and omission of the clear and consequential differences of two distinct (and unequal) types of master’s degrees in Spain.

      The official master’s degree have advantages in and, in some cases, the only access to:

      1. The Public Sector Labor Market
      2. Earning a PhD
      3. Transfer Credits
      4. Receiving Public Grants
      5. Public Pricing and Funding Models
      6. Highly Qualified Instruction

      In Spain, the definition of an Official Master’s has been in effect since 1999 after Spain signed the Bologna Declaration. To be official, you must be evaluated and then accredited by ANECA (Agencia Nacional de Evaluación de la Calidad y Acreditación).

      Instituto Franklin and the University of Alcalá are fully aware of the difference between an Official Master´s (Másters Oficial, Másters Universitario) in Spain and the non-official master’s(título propio, Másters Propio, Másters título propio).

      As educators and researchers of Bilingual Education and American Studies since 1987, continual administrators of foreign student programs, and former exchange students themselves, they are aware that prospective students are likely not familiar with legal language, legal language in Spanish, and cultural distinctions of consequence.

      Rather than informing students, they are profiting from omission. In this case, omission is exploitation.

      In English, their materials never mention the word “Propio,” everything is a “Masters” or “MA” which is likely by design because:

      1. Lack of official accreditation looks bad
      2. Given entry to both, students would choose something official over something non-official
      3. They can charge the same tuition (or more) than an official program

      It is likely they do not pursue official accreditation because:

      1. They would have to do more work earn official accreditation
      2. They would have to do more work to maintain official accreditation
      3. It would cost them more to be officially accredited
      4. It would be harder to admit foreign students
      5. They would have to hire more qualified teachers
      6. They may have to hire more staff/teachers
      7. They may not be able to get official accreditation for programs
      8. Students would have to be officially evaluated, which could affect graduation rates
      9. They may lose access to the “Auxiliares de Conversación ” student population

      On top of all this, Instituto Franklin documents a path to foreign accreditation AFTER completion of the program. This is is not only misleading but it is also false.

      They instruct students to take completed transcripts to a Foreign Credential Evaluation Service for “accreditation.”

      This is misleading and false because Foreign Credential Evaluation Services are not official accreditors. Foreign Credential Evaluation Services provide a range of recommendations for official institutions, but are not official accreditors themselves.

      Directing students to this false outcome is enough sustain a student’s faith to complete the entire course, pay non-refundable tuition, and attempt to use a non-officially accredited degree without ever knowing that the degree was NEVER officially accredited, and therefore CANNOT be officially accredited by the prescribed methods.

      At this time, the legal implications are unclear. The ethical implications are not. Current practices of Instituto Franklin at the University of Alcalá are misleading and deceiving.

      • There’s a lot of content here but I think the main point is about the authenticity of degree. You may be right about accreditation of the degree, being as it is “master propio.” I haven’t, and don’t know anyone, who has tried to transfer individual course credit to another university to complete another degree. That being said, all I can say for sure is that my degree (and a few friends’ who have completed the program) was “evaluated” by a 3rd party as a “Master’s” degree in the US, and as such, entitled me to extra pay in two different state’s school systems.

        It’s important that you’ve brought this up; I think students’ should know what exactly they’re getting themselves into. That’s why I started this blog. For the reading who is thinking about applying, I would offer this takeaway:

        Your course credits may not transfer to another university. Of course, since it’s a one-year program, having any course credits means you have finished the program and received the degree anyway, and I’ve already mentioned the plusses of that.


  3. Hi Brandon, Thanks for your blog. Really helpful
    I am interested in the International Ed program. Can you tell me if any of your classes were taught in Spanish> I would really like some classes in Spanish


  4. Hi Brandon, thanks for all the info both on the blog and comment-wise! I was just wondering if you know whether people who’ve completed the T&L program have been able to find jobs in Spain as teachers outside of the Auxiliar program. I have American and EU citizenship and am planning on staying in Spain pretty permanently so I really want to know whether this program will allow me to work as a teacher or if I would have to go through an actual Spanish university to become licensed and qualified to teach.


    • Ana,

      I know of several of my classmates who continued to teach, even outside of the auxiliares program. One student actually started his own summer camp for ESL with his wife, who’s Spanish. Here’s the site. I did the bilingual ed program, but didn’t do the option portion at the end to get the ESL cert (I don’t remember which cert it was exactly), but I know that some of my classmates were offered jobs at the schools they worked at. Sorry I can’t give you more 1st hand knowledge 😦

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