Lifelong learning, Singapore’s underpinning principle in building and maintaining a highly competitive workforce in a volatile economic landscape, is self-directed learning that is undertaken throughout one’s lifespan. It is continuous. It is intentional. It aims to acquire skills and knowledge beyond the preparation for careers.
For Ms Jesselyn Liau, stepping into the world of higher education changed the trajectory of her life course and sustained her hunger for continual learning. She had put learning on the backburner ever since becoming a mother to two children who were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. In 2014 and at the age of 40, she finally took the plunge and started on her learning journey. In the true spirit of lifelong learning, Ms Liau did not stop after obtaining her first degree in 2018. She sought the advice of her professor on graduate studies. “At that time, I had three options to choose from. Ultimately, I chose the Master of Arts (Applied Linguistics) programme because of the courses offered,” shared Ms Liau. “I had a very keen interest in psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics and discourse studies.”
Through the lens of sociolinguistics, Ms Liau began to appreciate the practical use of English among English learners in their respective societies where English is a second or foreign language. Similarly, she found multimodality a fascinating field. “I finally began to understand why people use different modes to express meanings,” recounted Ms Liau. The ability to link the knowledge to real-world applications helped her see a fuller and bigger picture of how language truly functions in one’s life. The shift in paradigm broadened her perspective on English language as a global language.
The Master of Arts (Applied Linguistics) programme offered by the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NIE NTU, Singapore) provides a broad-based course of study in the field of applied linguistics, mainly within the fields of language education and language studies, balancing theoretical knowledge with practical application. It helps students develop a strong foundation in theories of linguistics and language learning by offering opportunities to critically review current research in applied linguistics.
Being a mature student came with challenges. “A couple of my classmates’ mothers were around my age and my daughter was only a few years younger than many of them,” recounted Ms Liau. “That aside, in the course of my candidature, I had made friends from Spain, United Kingdom, Indonesia and China. These friendships were enriching.”
Ms Liau also counted learning from the faculty members as one of the best parts of her student life at NIE NTU, Singapore. “They were generous with their time whenever I consulted them over my assignments and other academic matters. For that, I am very thankful for all of them,” she added. Expressing her gratitude towards her NIE supervisor, Dr Mark Seilhamer, “NIE had equipped me to dive deep into research, both in reading the recommended publications and in getting a taster of conducting research through my dissertation.”
Understanding the need for and importance of linking theory with professional practice, curriculum designers at NIE have taken a step further to design programmes that enhance the competencies and knowledge of its students to help them meet the new and changing demands of their careers and to stay relevant in an increasingly challenging and globalised market. “In my current professional teaching international students, NIE had taught me to embrace English learners at various stages of proficiencies. In the course of teaching, my skills in designing learner-focused curriculum and materials also improved. There has been much personal growth in the area of my work, and I have to thank NIE,” said Ms Liau. “It is now for me to put into practical use what NIE had taught me, to my current and future students.”
The National Institute of Education (NIE) is an autonomous institute under the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. It has been consistently ranked among the top 20 educational institutions in the world and the top five in Asia by the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) ranking.
Application for August 2023 intake is open from November 1, 2022 to January 13, 2023. For more information, visit www.nie.edu.sg/aug2023.
Also, if you missed the Postgraduate & Continuing Education Fair 2022, watch programme-related talks and videos here: www.nie.edu.sg/pgce.