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Study plan

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I’ve been silent for quite a while now, regarding both important and unimportant matters. In particular, I’ve been quite about my education, mostly because writing a post about it would have meant using more question marks than full stops. However, things have cleared up and I think I now dare to talk a little bit about what will happen during this semester.

Actually, a lot of things could have gone wrong, but so far, everything seems to flow more smoothly than I ever dared to hope. The first issue was to convince the institution that I should be allowed to include Chinese in my teacher’s education. This would be difficult, because the university does not offer this option so it has to be done individually and outside ordinary courses. This was by far the most pivotal question of all, because if I was denied my request, everything would turn very bad indeed. I would have to add at least three semesters before graduating and I would be more miserable in general.

Fortunately, I seem to be able to include Chinese. It’s not exactly clear how this will work, but it’s now rather a question of how to solve problems that might show up rather than thinking about if it’s possible or not. I will study some kind of general didactics courses this semester, along with some practical teaching. I don’t know much about this yes, but I’ll get back to you as soon as I do.

The second conundrum regarded my continued pursuits to learn more Chinese and, perhaps more importantly considering what I wrote above about graduating, how to transform my knowledge into academic credits in the Swedish university system. In order to do this, I have registered for a full-time course in Lund, although I will do most of it from home here in Linköping. I thought I would be denied taking the course at first, but right now everything has worked out just fine, so everything I need to do is pass the exams and write a thesis (a quite hefty one at that).

In addition to all this, I will try to see if there is any part of the English that I lack that can be done during the spring semester. I will have lots of things to do anyway, but graduating next Christmas is not only desirable, it also seems possible. So most of the question marks have been straightened and turned into healthy, positive exclamation marks. I don’t know how this will work out in practice yet, but I’m optimistic!

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One of the reasons for my recent inactivity here on this website was the fact that I’ve moved house, but another reason, which is at least in the long run a lot more important, is the changes I’ve made to my education plans. It would be false to say that I have changed direction entirely (as I did when changing from psychology to teaching), but if everything goes according to plan, I will graduate three semesters earlier than the previous estimate (after the autumn semester of 2011 instead of after the spring semester of 2013).

This is a major change, and although things look good, nothing is guaranteed. The worst case scenario is that my education is prolonged another semester instead, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

Bye-bye Swedish, 中文你好

In short, what I have decided to do is to stop studying Swedish and use Chinese as my second subject (English is my first). Looking at actual language level, my Chinese is already good enough, at least if we consider how many academic credits my language ability corresponds to in the Swedish system, but there are three things that are missing.

  • My ability is not measured in the Swedish system since I’ve been studying abroad
  • I need some practical teaching practice in a classroom
  • I need some more theoretical courses related to teaching Chinese

These things are all possible to solve, assuming that the university allows me to include Chinese in the first place. If they don’t, I might have to change to another university, but I hope I won’t be forced to do that.

The following three semesters

This isn’t a detailed plan, but I’ve thought about it a lot and spoken to enough people to make me feel that it’s quite realistic. If something goes wrong, it might delay my graduation a bit, perhaps even an entire semester, but that still enables me to graduate a year earlier than I originally planned.

  1. Autumn 2010 – I just changed from studying Swedish to studying English. Since the other students have already studied for a few months, there will be things I can’t do because the courses are already completed. There is also one element, the term paper, which the others have already started doing, and I don’t think I have enough time to do it properly this semester. In addition to finishing as much as possible of my remaining semester of English, I will also take some kind of course to prepare myself for the spring, but I don’t know any details about that yet.
  2. Spring 2011 – If everything goes according to plan, I will be able to study Chinese for one semester in Lund (hopefully through some kind of distance learning; I really don’t want to move to Lund). That will give me four semesters worth of academic credits in Chinese, which is both good enough to start a master’s degree later and enough to teach. At the same time, I will finish the English term paper and some other things that might be left over from the autumn. Also, I will complete the teaching side of my Chinese education before the summer.
  3. Autumn 2012 – Final courses in what’s called “general education”, which includes a thesis and a long period of continued internship. There should also be time here to complete courses that for some reason have been impossible to finish earlier. It’s not very likely that that’s the case, but there should be enough time if the need arises.

Towards a brighter future

So, what will I do after graduation? The most significant difference between the plan I’ve described above and the original one (which removes the Chinese and adds two years of Swedish studies), is that it takes less time. This means that my financial situation will be a lot better, allowing for more flexibility and more options after graduation. Here are some possible future developments:

  • Finding a job teaching English and/or Chinese in high school – I realise that Chinese is a minor subject, but I do think that some courses will be available and that even more can be created. This would be a way of earning some money and some experience, but it’s also evident that I really like teaching, so this is the most likely development, albeit that it might not be permanent or long-lasting.
  • Returning to Taiwan to study for a master’s degree in teaching Chinese – I know I want to do this at some point, although it depends on my social and financial situation. If granted a scholarship at some point, it’s very likely that I will go back to Taiwan to take my Chinese to a level which is professionally useful outside the classroom.
  • Advancing my Chinese or English studies in Sweden – The goal here would be to take master’s degree in either subject, or possibly something related to education science, enabling me to apply for a PhD later. I’m not saying this a realistic opportunity, but doing research relating to language learning, focused on either Chinese or English, is something I can imagine myself doing five years from now. This can be combined with teaching Chinese.
  • Having achieved more academic credits in general, finding a teaching job at a university would be desirable. Of course, this depends a lot on what happens in the near future, but right now it seems very likely that this will related to Chinese in some way. Teaching university courses in Chinese is something I definitely see myself doing in the future, although there are too many unknown factors to hazard a guess when that might happen.

As you can see, this is a major change not only in my career, but also in my life in general. Most of the change has not taken effect yet, but things have been irrevocably set in motion, so the plan above is what I will try to follow.

I’m convinced that I’ve made the right choices, now I just have to see them through and hopefully things will turn out to the best!

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