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Spanish MATL: A Degree for Full Time Educators | Student Stories

| 3 minute read

Earning your Spanish MATL degree online does not have to be boring. You might think that not being in a physical classroom might limit the different kinds of learning experiences that you have, but here at Southern Miss, our professors love being creative with their online classes!

Michele Rhodes recently graduated from our online Spanish MATL degree while working as a full time educator. Below, she gives us a glimpse at just how creative and out-of-the-box her professors were!

From creative professors to effective language teaching tools, Michele tells us how much her Spanish MATL helped her in her own classroom! We hope you enjoy learning about her experience as much as we did.

Q: Out of all the schools that you could have chosen for your field of study, what made you choose Southern Miss?
A: I chose Southern Miss because of their solid Master’s Degree program specifically in my field: teaching Spanish. I also selected it because I wanted to complete it entirely online. At different times during my studies, I heard others comment on the great reputation of the Language department. In my opinion, the department fully lived up to its reputation.
The entire program was very challenging, rigorous, and thorough. I was so impressed by how creative and varied the courses were, in spite of being entirely online. The faculty and my colleagues were very supportive and stimulating to work with.

Q: What do you feel made your Spanish MATL online program unique?
A: The Spanish MATL online program was unique because it challenged me intellectually and incorporated all the bases of my field. It included Applied Linguistics, Sociolinguistic Context in the Acquisition of Spanish, Second Language Acquisition, Topics in Spanish Lit (drama and literature), Latin American Poetry (LOVED that class!!), Teaching Languages: Theory Into Practice, where we delved into ALL education standards in our field and applied them, and finally, the Practicum, where we conducted Action Research of our own design. In addition, I was able to do an “Independent Study,” in which I evaluated various language-learning apps for the high school classroom and incorporated it as well. (DuoLingo – loved by my students and myself).

Q: What was one of your favorite aspects about the program?
A: My favorite aspects of the program were the cultural courses we took, one on Puerto Rico: Language, Culture & History. It was fascinating and helped round out my experience since I’ve never had the pleasure of going there. It was thorough and the assignments and projects we completed provided me with excellent resources for my classroom. Another class I loved was one where we were required to simulate a culture shock experience in our own state, and, despite living in suburban Ohio, I surprised myself with what I was able to do. I visited a Hindu temple where I was guided through it by a priest. Then I ate at a Hindi restaurant with a buffet where I tried EVERYTHING! I can barely get my family to eat Mexican, so this was all new for me, and I definitely felt the culture shock in both places! As a World Languages teacher I have been unable to travel since undergrad, so it was excellent to be reminded of what that feels like.

“I decided to get my MATL because I wanted to improve my skills with the language and become a better educator. I have definitely accomplished both.”

– Michele Rhodes

Q: How was juggling working full-time and earning your degree online?
A: It was quite challenging to work fulltime as a teacher while earning my degree online, however, it was also flexible. I took the advice of my brother-in-law, who is a professor at a seminary, and who teaches in-person and online graduate programs at a different university. His advice was to only take ONE class per semester, and that was the best advice ever. As a wife and mom with two kids still working through their own educations, I can’t imagine how people do more than one. It must be extremely overwhelming

Q: What is a fun fact about yourself?
A: I LOVE learning languages, and this past year, since I had an exchange student from the Czech Republic in my classroom, I decided to learn Czech on DuoLingo. So much fun to share snippets with my students.

Thanks for sharing, Michele! Are you interested in earning your Spanish MATL Degree from one of the largest programs of its kind in the United States? Fill out the form below to be emailed information, or read more about the program here!


Office of Online Learning

All blog posts are written and maintained by the Office of Online Learning at The University of Southern Mississippi. We provide support to online students, to faculty teaching online courses, and to units seeking to develop, grow, or improve online programs at the University.

For more information, email us at online@usm.edu.