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.
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.