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Academic career dilemma watch

    • Thread Starter

    Hi guys, I would like to hear some other views and opinions to make my dilemma easier or even more difficult.

    I am 33, originally from Slovakia, currently living in England, working as a bi-lingual Education Welfare Officer / Interpreter. I think that academic (University) environment would be the best for me. Having Masters in Journalism and passion for languages, learning and teaching, I would really like to become a tutor, preferably at the University. I know that ideally I would need PhD to be able to do that. But let’s have a look at my options.

    1 – English tutor in Slovakia

    If I wanted to be an English tutor in Slovakia, the best way would be studying English while I am in England and if I decide to go back to Slovakia in the future, I could do PhD in Slovakia (at some of English Departments considering my interpreting experience from England). Good thing about it would be the possibility to get funding from the Slovakian University where I would be doing PhD/teaching (money for surviving) + plus my house in England might be paid off by then (in 5 years – benefits of a cheap area, lodgers and modest life ) so I could rent it out and have some extra income from there.

    The question is then where to study English. I am not much into literature, theatre, etc. I prefer linguistics, etc. I have already passed so called “state exams” in Slovakia that should prove that I can speak, read and write in English (part of my Journalism studies). I am thinking of getting DPSI (Diploma in Public Service Interpreting – I don’t really need it at the moment, I am doing the job anyway) in English/Slovak, English/Czech. I’ve been thinking of studying some Business English courses (just some evening classes), maybe Medical English, Law English to expand my horizons. I may get a TEFL later.

    2 – Tutor of Slavonic languages in England

    There are places in England (one actually near my home) where it is possible to study Slavonic languages. I already speak, read and write Slovak and Czech and I have some knowledge of Polish and very little basic knowledge of Russian. I could take an undergraduate degree (let’s say Russian, Polish) and it could be a path how to stay in the department and eventually become a tutor there. The only trouble with this is that the long undergraduate study would be quite expensive and I could not do it as a full time student (being 33 with a house and mortgage) and a part-time course would be even longer. Turning from a Council Officer into a full time student would not be financially possible.

    3 – Getting an Education Degree

    I’ve been thinking lately that I could get something like PGCE. If I understand it correctly, PGCE would allow me to teach quite many subjects (but only post-16) as I have also studied Music College (A-levels in Guitar Performance, Music Theory, Music History) and Computer Science (A-levels in Computer Programming and Web Design). I have already worked as a private guitar tutor (4+ years).

    Good thing about PGCE is that I could do it part-time (Saturdays) in about 2 years. PGCE could also help me to have some sort of teaching qualification if I wanted to teach English in language schools in Slovakia.

    4 – Getting PhD in England

    Having a Degree in Journalism I think it might be possible to find a place at some of those departments of Slavonic languages. It would be quite a lengthy study if part-time (6 years) but it should cost just over £2000 per year so I could easily cover it from my wage as Education Welfare Officer. I would stay in my job until I would get my PhD and possibly a job at the University. I am sure I would find an interesting topic for my research combining Journalism, Languages, Interpreting, Education.

    I guess getting a PhD place would be the most difficult of all, I presume that Universities accept only exceptional people for their PhD programmes, not a random guy who just wants to go there.

    End of story

    If you have read everything, thank you. I know you are not going to decide it for me. But I would like to read some other views/opinions that can expand my horizons and enlighten my mind.

    Thank you

    A PGCE is a teaching qualification and you can specialise in Primary, Secondary or Post Compulsory Education and Training (PCET). Once you have a PGCE you can teach in a school or Further Education. You would normally require a degree in the subject that you teach and not just A Levels. There are some great bursaries out there for people doing a PGCE with degrees in English, Modern Language, Computing and more, so maybe have a look into that.

    Ultimately it boils down to what level you want to teach at and at what age. That will determine the route you need to take. If it is university lecturing you want to do, then a PhD is a must.
    • Thread Starter

    Thanks for your reply and for the information about the PGCE.
    • Thread Starter

    But this confuses me a bit.

    Copied from a booklet: "If you are a PGCE applicant you should hold a UK first degree or equivalent and relevant work experience (where appropriate to the subject field). You must also hold qualifications at Level 3-4 in the subject area you teach if this is different from that of your degree."

    That's why I believe that Level 3 (A levels) should be enough for teaching the subject if you have any degree in something else. Even people without a degree can get a Cert Ed and then teach (let's say hairdressing instructor).
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    (Original post by PhilSK)
    I think you need to do much more thinking/research about what an academic life is about, because at the moment there seem to be some inconsistencies.

    First of all 'academics' at university broadly do two different roles, teaching and research. The balance between the time spent on each activity depends a) on what the individual wants, b) on the research strength of the university and c) on the availability of roles. So for example, in research intensive universities, there might be few in any opportunities for a full teaching role, without any research. Conversely in teaching universities with little research, there might be many opportunities. You make no mention of research, only teaching, and being a 'teaching only' academic I would suggest is much the rarer individual and role. I suspect that the set of Universities that have Slavonic Studies departments and the set on Universities that have full-time, teaching only roles in those departments has zero overlap.

    Option 1 - can't offer any knowledge on Slovakian academia, universities or qualifications required.

    Option 2 - as above, I doubt this role actually exists.

    Option 3 - wouldn't put you in the 'academic environment' you seem to want. A PGCE will qualify you to teach in schools, not Universities.

    Option 4 - I'm not sure I understand. A degree in Journalism won't get you a place in a Slavonic Studies department either as a student or a member of staff.

    (Original post by PhilSK)
    Excellent points from threeportdrift.

    If you want to be an academic at a UK uni (as above, as a lecturer/researcher), you will need a PhD for most. Be aware that in the UK, you are highly unlikely to go straight from an undergrad degree to a PhD in a Humanities subject. You will usually be expected to complete a Masters degree first.

    Also, if you are self-funding a PhD, you will have several steps - it's not just about applying for a place as you would on an undergrad degree. You need to have a reasonable plan of what you intend to study for your PhD - it has to be much more specific than your current idea, which is really just a list of potential study fields. You then need to identify someone with the expertise to supervise you. This will be more difficult if you want to work on a cross-discipline research project rooted in both journalism and a language/culture. The supervisor(s) you have available may alter your research plans, so you need to be familiar with their research interests and outputs.

    At UK unis, your ability as an educator is much less important than your ability to research and generate the related research grants and funding (i.e. income for the uni). In that respect, a PGCE is something of a red herring prior to a PhD. When I was a PhD researcher we had to do part of a PGCE before we were permitted to teach undergrads, but completing it was very much something you did after the PhD if you wanted to teach in schools.
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