Decisions Decisions – Third-Year Module Choices

by Craig Evans

‘Two roads diverged in a yellow wood / And sorry I could not travel both’ – Robert Frost

 

Friday’s module option fair has left me in a bit of a quandary. What to do, what to do? From the start I was certain about three of the four options, and I had hoped the fair would help me make up my mind about the fourth. Alas, it has not! I am stuck between two choices, but come 12 noon tomorrow (when the online module choices open), for better or worse, I will make my decision.

It is not a decision to be taken lightly, though. How do we want to spend our final year studying English Language and Linguistics at UWE: will it be with lecturers we favour? Are we going to allow ourselves to be swayed by what our friends choose? Or will we base our decision entirely on the module content?

Of course, we should go with what we want to learn, and what will help us on our future career paths.

Anyone thinking about a career in teaching may want to give some serious consideration to Rebecca’s TESOL module; the project (aka dissertation) module seems to be a must if you want to go on to study a Masters; Catherine’s Creative Writing and the Self would be a great opportunity for those wishing to place themselves at the heart of the learning experience;  and so on and so on.

Personally, I am most interested in the relationship between texts and society and power, so I was always going to choose Jonathan’s Critical Discourse Analysis and Kate’s Gender, (im)politeness and Power in Language modules. And, of course, my own project; but what of the fourth option?

‘Two roads diverged in a yellow wood / And sorry I could not travel both’.

I don’t know about anybody else, but there is something that I find inherently exciting about the words ‘cultural’, ‘history’, and ‘language’ appearing together in the same sentence. So to find them all together in the title of a module that I get to choose should make this module option the easiest decision in the world, right? Well, curiously not.

History was my first love, a long time ago. In a world without money, where thought for the sake of thought is currency enough, I fancy that I would have always been a historian (that is, between tending to my vegetable patch and patching up my homemade shack). And as surely as Harry Potter would have done well in Slytherin, I think I would do well in Richard’s The Cultural History of the English Language.

But then my reason for choosing to study English Language and Linguistics in the first place was because of what I perceived to be its practical application: to acquire the skills to analyse language in real-world settings. That’s not to say that Richard’s module doesn’t provide this, but Jeanette’s Language Contact and Bilingualism seems to provide it more. The only problem is that word ‘bilingualism’ and the fact that my brain is like a rock when it comes to second language acquisition, and while being bilingual is not a requirement for this module, a personal experience of bilingualism surely must help.

For me, I believe Jeanette’s module would be quite a challenge and Richard’s fun and enthralling: something new versus something familiar.

‘Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – / I took the one less travelled by, / and that has made all the difference’.

Hmm, I’m not so sure Mr Frost.

***

How is everyone else getting on with their module choices? Did you know right away what you wanted to do, or are you still agonising over the  options? It would be great to hear about your experiences in the comments below.

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2 comments

  1. Well, it’s good to think about these things carefully. But (not that I want to encourage this, but…) you can still change modules in the first two weeks of teaching (I’ll give you all the links to this once the term has started). So you can try things out before committing… Also, language contact and bilingualism does not require you to be bilingual. Actually, usually only a third of students are 🙂

  2. It’s good to know that we’ll have a chance to change after teaching starts, but given the importance of the third year, I personally hope to get ahead with reading before then. (well these are my good intentions at least – reality usually turns out differently 🙂 ). As for not needing to be bilingual to study bilingualism, I can see how that isn’t an essential requirement. However, if you’re studying something like code-switching, it must help to understand the motivations for doing this if you have firsthand experience yourself. Still, no reason why this should be a hindrance to studying bilingualism. Personally, after studying English: Past, Present and Future in Year 1, I think bilingualism in the future will increasingly become a global norm. For that reason, I hang my monolingual head in shame, and wonder if I shouldn’t ought to do something about it. First up: maybe I need to pair up with a language buddy. 🙂

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