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How much experience is needed to gain admission into Applied Linguistics programs?


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I've lurked here for awhile but I haven't really been able to find the answer to this question. I'm hoping to apply to Applied Linguistics/SLA programs for Fall 2017, but I want to make sure this isn't a lost cause because of my total lack of experience in the field.

My background: 

  • graduated in 2014 from a small Midwestern liberal arts school with a B.A. in German (also a B.A. in Music, but that's not relevant here). GPA: 3.8, Major GPA: 3.95
  • interned at a refugee resettlement agency
  • currently teaching math at an underprivileged high school in Denver, CO through Americorps
  • GRE: 160 V, 167 Q, 5 AW
  • not as much experience abroad as I would like :/

These experiences are what have led me to want to pursue Applied Linguistics, but I really don't think it's enough to make my applications stand out. I originally thought I was interested in teaching German at a public high school, but these last several months teaching high school kids has changed my mind about that. :-P Now, I'm more interested in teaching adults, but my interests extend beyond TESOL. I really want to understand how foreign languages are learned, and I'd be happy to teach English, but what really fascinates me is developing content for language learning and/or doing research. I've also recently become very interested in endangered languages.

What I'm wondering is, what can I do in the next year to better my chances? I'm willing to leave my teaching job and even move somewhere else if need be, and I hope to take some introductory courses in linguistics during the summer. I've searched for jobs and internships, but nearly everything I find requires applicants to already have a master's in linguistics/SLA/education, etc. In fact, the jobs I've been finding are the types of jobs I would hope to have after my master's degree is complete! Here are a few examples if it helps: http://jobs.rosettastone.com/jobs/1249803-Research-Associate.aspxhttps://jobs.lever.co/duolingo/287e62c9-4913-4843-93b7-2ecae18521ac

Thanks in advance! I really appreciate it when experienced people help out newbies like me!

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Hi harrah!

I'm guessing you are looking into MA programs? If so, teaching experience typically isn't required, although it can definitely be a benefit. Many MA students in the field also seem to have a foreign language background, such as German, French, or Spanish, for example, so that's not a problem. I would do some research on the different programs you want to apply to, and make sure you know what they're looking for. To strengthen your application you could look into tutoring or teaching ESL or German students, even if it's just on the side. If you have the opportunity to take a linguistics class or two - great. This will not only look good on paper, but it will help you articulate the reasons why you want to enter a program in Applied Linguistics or SLA in your SOP and what type of research you might want do for your MA thesis (if required). 

Hope this helps! 


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Thank you for your response! This definitely makes me feel better about my chances. Reading this forum can be intimidating because some people have so much experience and knowledge. Yes, I am only applying to MA programs, since I want to get working as soon as possible! I'm in the process of finding linguistics courses to take during the summer so that I can really pin down my interests and be more focused.

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  • 1 month later...

Good to hear there are others out there like myself. I'm about to graduate w/ a double major in Linguistics and German, so hopefully that'll give me at least SOME sort of edge... but yeah I don't have much "research" experience outside of my major project. I do have experience as  TA so hopefully that helps. 


I'm dying not knowing yet whether or not I'll be in grad school come August. I can't believe the process takes so long. Come on, don't they realize most of us will need to uproot our entire lives to attend school. They should give us as much of a notice as possible, not keep us waiting until the very last second. --> I need to know if I should start looking for a job lol

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  • 2 weeks later...

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