Tony Chan, 38, graduate After completing secondary and university studies overseas, Tony Chan returned to Hong Kong in 1995. Shortly after being promoted to the position of English department head of a local secondary school in 2007, his desire to become a curriculum leader drove him to sign up for MA in applied linguistics (MAAL). 'It was very demanding. I was told that we were expected to put in [a lot of] effort and make sacrifices while doing the course in order to get the most out of it. On the whole, I think this course is excellent for teachers or educators who really want to gain a better understanding of second-language teaching and learning. 'This programme is very different from other similar programmes in Hong Kong as it has a heavy emphasis on research. It is specifically designed for those who are interested in knowing about the latest developments in second-language teaching and learning.' Chan enjoyed the dissertation thanks to a helpful supervisor. 'I learned a lot about conducting research in my own classroom. Conducting research is key to improving my classroom teaching. I also liked the assignments, as doing assignments meant I did not have to take exams and tests.' Ellie Law, 26, graduate Early in life, Ellie Law set a clear career goal - to teach in a local university. She completed the MA course last year. 'I believe a master's degree in language teaching will enhance my knowledge and skills set in teaching while keeping me competitive when applying for jobs at universities. The MAAL programme requires students to have good writing skills in order to complete their 2,500-word assignments. This programme is different from others because it focuses on empirical studies. Most programmes do not include research methods and dissertation writing, but I think they are the most rewarding parts of the programme.' When asked about the programme's greatest challenge, she cited time management. 'It's not easy to strike a balance between work and study. Also, there were many assignments. It really takes time to produce quality assignments. Though the MAAL is tough, it is very rewarding. I believe that the course not only enhanced my knowledge of language teaching and research, but also strengthened my critical thinking skills and perseverance.'