1

An expression a day...

When I was 10 I mastered an extremely useful expression in Japanese that set me on my language learning and teaching journey. From a young age we used to have foreign students staying in the flat at the top of our house in the suburbs of London. Between the ages... Read More

My parents strongly believed that a great way to become fluent in a language is to have a native speaker at close call. I don’t dispute this and think it is a great way to learn a language.

1

An expression a day...

When I was 10 I mastered an extremely useful expression in Japanese that set me on my language learning and teaching journey. From a young age we used to have foreign students staying in the flat at the top of our house in the suburbs of London.

Between the ages of 10 to 18 we had young adults from China, Japan, France, Germany and Austria staying with us for at least 6 months at a time. The stay of Miki from Tokyo coincided with one of my father’s business trips to Japan. To master a few pleasantries whilst in Japan he purchased “Japanese for Busy People”. It was by dipping into this book that I learnt the useful expression “Keep your chin up” Ganbatte Kudasai”. The reaction I received from the Japanese tourists walking around London, upon hearing a 10-year-old English boy telling them to stay positive was quite addictive. It gave me the drive to continue learning languages.

My parents strongly believed that a great way to become fluent in a language is to have a native speaker at close call. I don’t dispute this and think it is a great way to learn a language.

2

Top marks at German!

I didn’t go on to study Japanese at school but did choose German and French. It wasn’t that I struggled with these languages but despite our teachers’ best efforts they didn’t greatly enthuse me, which was perhaps why I didn’t excel at them. My main... Read More

I believe that language and culture are entwined and without an understanding or appreciation of the culture it is difficult to fall in love with the language.

2

Top marks at German!

I didn’t go on to study Japanese at school but did choose German and French. It wasn’t that I struggled with these languages but despite our teachers’ best efforts they didn’t greatly enthuse me, which was perhaps why I didn’t excel at them.

My main point of reference to French were the language assistants who lived with us as well as camping holidays in the South of France.

It was no coincidence that the arrival of a German language assistant coincided with higher grades in my German lessons. My teacher was delighted of course. It wasn’t until one of my classmates gave the game away that the real reason behind my very high marks in German came to light. Yet it was away from the books and formal learning, on an exchange trip to a small town called Kreuztal that I built up both a better understanding of the German language and culture. I feel it was this connection with the country and its people that motivated me to pass my GCSE German exam. After all, language doesn’t exist without culture.

I believe that language and culture are entwined and without an understanding or appreciation of the culture it is difficult to fall in love with the language.

3

When in Rome...

Despite passing both French and German at secondary school I decided not to pursue either of them in my final two years. Instead, I chose English and History, two subjects that I had performed well at throughout school. In July of 2000 we had just finished our... Read More

It was here where I met an Italian girl, leading to a short romance but a longer relationship with Italy and it's language and culture.

3

When in Rome...

Despite passing both French and German at secondary school I decided not to pursue either of them in my final two years. Instead, I chose English and History, two subjects that I had performed well at throughout school. In July of 2000 we had just finished our final exams –   a good enough cause for celebration! We decided to head into the centre of London for a night out. It was here where I met an Italian girl, leading to a short romance but a longer relationship with Italy and it’s language and culture.

 

 

It was here where I met an Italian girl, leading to a short romance but a longer relationship with Italy and it's language and culture.

4

The dream and the reality

My love of Italy was the catalyst into studying Italian at university. We had the possibility to begin a language with either a very rudimentary level or without any previous knowledge. The main selling point for me was the year abroad in Italy, known as the Erasmus... Read More

I visualised myself ordering a coffee in fluent Italian and being able to understand all of “corriere della sera”

4

The dream and the reality

My love of Italy was the catalyst into studying Italian at university. We had the possibility to begin a language with either a very rudimentary level or without any previous knowledge. The main selling point for me was the year abroad in Italy, known as the Erasmus Exchange Programme. Although I visualised myself ordering a coffee in fluent Italian and being able to understand all of “corriere della sera”, it was a far- off dream at the end of my first year enrolled on the course as my Italian was so bad in the first year that members of the class would  occasionally snigger at my shoddy grasp of the language and bad pronunciation – or at least I go that impression!

Surprisingly, I managed to pass the second year by the skin of my teeth and was selected to study in Cagliari, Sardinia for a year with one of my classmates.

 

 

 

I visualised myself ordering a coffee in fluent Italian and being able to understand all of “corriere della sera”

5

A year in the sun

My Eramus year abroad in Italy was easily one of the best experiences I have had and would highly recommend it. For those  not familiar with the Erasmus exchange I suggest seeing the film L’auberge espagnole‘ which is an accurate portayal of a study... Read More

I don't discount the importance of grammar learning with books but in my case I found that full immerion brought my Italian on by leaps and bounds.

5

A year in the sun

My Eramus year abroad in Italy was easily one of the best experiences I have had and would highly recommend it. For those  not familiar with the Erasmus exchange I suggest seeing the film L’auberge espagnole‘ which is an accurate portayal of a study programme in a Mediterranean country.

Being mixed up with students from around the world for a year is one of the best ways to learn about other countries and cultures and also a good way to learn about oneself. It also challenged many of my previous held ideas and attitudes. In Cagliari I had the opportunity to socialise with students from around Europe. Mixing with students from other countries for a year is a great way to learn about other countries and cultures but also about oneself. To this day I remain in contact with many of the people I met during the year. What was beneficial is that the majority of us had the same goal – to improve our language skills and to be able to converse with each other. As many of my friends didn’t speak English, there was no other way than to learn Italian.

I was hell bent on improving my language skills and spent hours conversing with Italians about everything and anything, studying the dictionary, watching films in Italian and listening in on conversations around me. I don’t discount the importance of grammar learning with books but in my case I found that full immerion brought my Italian on by leaps and bounds.

I don't discount the importance of grammar learning with books but in my case I found that full immerion brought my Italian on by leaps and bounds.

6

The Italian Prize

Going back to cold and rainy England after a year spent drinking espressos and living in a beachside house with a palm tree in our garden was tough  yet I was determined to create a positive language learning environment. Along with a close friend of mine who... Read More

On a day-to-day basis it’s hard to recognise progress but after a year of intensive study and the year in Sardinia my peers voted me unanimously for the Italian prize.

6

The Italian Prize

Going back to cold and rainy England after a year spent drinking espressos and living in a beachside house with a palm tree in our garden was tough  yet I was determined to create a positive language learning environment.

Along with a close friend of mine who was studying both Italian and Spanish, we decided to replicate a language learning environment around us that would drive us on in our quest to pass our final year. We shared our house with Italians and Spanish, enrolled on the language exchange program at our university, pairing us with Italian students who wanted to improve their English. I also signed up at the Italian Cultural Institute giving me access to the Italian Language Library and allowed me to rent out films in Italian. I also listened to hours of Internet radio in Italian.

I believe that there are different learning styles and very much believe that I am an auditory learner. That is, I process information better by hearing it. I therefore knew that constant listening and speaking practice would be the way forward for me.On a day-to-day basis it’s hard to recognise progress but after the period of a year of intensive study and the previous year in Sardinia my peers voted me unanimously  for the Italian prize – which was awared to the most improved student. For me this was recognition for all my hard work.

On a day-to-day basis it’s hard to recognise progress but after a year of intensive study and the year in Sardinia my peers voted me unanimously for the Italian prize.

7

From learning to teaching

Upon leaving university I gained experience in different fields and working environments, but one of my main focuses was to continually iimprove my ability in the languages I had learnt thus far. Yes 430 million people speak English as a first language but there... Read More

I am passionate about languages not just for the sounds but because of the communication it opens up.

7

From learning to teaching

Upon leaving university I gained experience in different fields and working environments, but one of my main focuses was to continually iimprove my ability in the languages I had learnt thus far. Yes 430 million people speak English as a first language but there are 7 billion people in the world and millions of people who do not.

Only speaking two languages (English and Italian) would limit me and deny me the possibility to communicate with thousands of interesting people. Spanish as one of the world’s most widely spoken languages greatly appealed to me. With a solid understanding of Italian I knew that Spanish couldn’t be too difficult to learn.

Therefore, in 2006 I moved to Spain and got a job teaching English in a private language school. I had no prior teaching experience but was able to draw on my experience as a language learner to help me on my new endeavour. It is through constant failure that one learns most and the many difficulties and challenges I faced that year gave me a solid foundation when I decided to sign up to complete a 5 week long CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of other languages) course in 2009 in the UK.

I am passionate about languages not just for the sounds but because of the communication it opens up.

8

PGCE, NQT and Spain

A Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) is an extremely intense undertaking, something I had also heard from people who had completed one before I enrolled on the course. Looking back on the year I can most aptly describe it as an emotional rollercoaster,... Read More

My diverse experience has allowed me to develop my teaching. I constantly look for ways to better my skills and abilities in order to make learning as fun possible for my students.

8

PGCE, NQT and Spain

A Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) is an extremely intense undertaking, something I had also heard from people who had completed one before I enrolled on the course. Looking back on the year I can most aptly describe it as an emotional rollercoaster, but also a steep learning curve. It didn’t just teach me how to teach but also taught me about myself and gave me more resilience, as well as the ability to reflect and think of ways to overcome constant obstacles on an almost daily basis.

During the PGCE we had regular observations of our lessons and written feedback to improve our practice. We also observed other teachers, wrote three assignments on education, which formed part of the theoretical element of the course and also completed two teaching placements – one for six weeks and one for four months.

I was delighted but also exhausted by the time June came around and the PGCE had finished. It wasn’t quite over though, I still had to pass the next year to qualify as a secondary school teacher, and before doing that I needed to apply to interview and be accepted in a full time teaching position. This process entailed teaching a one-off lesson in a school I was unfamiliar with and students I had never met whilst being observed by experienced teachers.

Upon successfully completing both the PGCE course and Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) over two years

 

My diverse experience has allowed me to develop my teaching. I constantly look for ways to better my skills and abilities in order to make learning as fun as possible for my students. Forming a good rapport and finding areas of interest is hugely important.

 

My diverse experience has allowed me to develop my teaching. I constantly look for ways to better my skills and abilities in order to make learning as fun possible for my students.