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Miss Donia talks about what inspired her to teach languages in the UK

Miss Donia talks about what inspired her to teach languages in the UK

February 13th 2017

Why did you decide to become a teacher? What inspired you?

I started thinking about becoming a teacher during my last year of undergraduate studies:  prior to that I had already developed a deep interest in foreign languages but I had still not concretely considered the possibility of becoming a teacher. In my university, students were required to do a short traineeship before finishing their course of study, in order to orient themselves towards choosing a future career. Among the different options offered by my university, the prospect of teaching English in a middle school (11-13 years) immediately appealed to me. This first period of work experience only lasted three months but it helped me get an idea of how schools work and develop an awareness of the challenges involved in teaching. Later on, I had another opportunity to get immersed in the world of teaching, spending 9 months as an Italian assistant in France. Without any doubt, this was the most formative experience in my life. 2000 years ago, Seneca wrote, docendo discimus (“we learn by teaching”) and it was actually by teaching my own mother tongue to non-native speakers that I was able improve my knowledge of the Italian language and find out how much I liked this profession. In France I worked in three high schools (15-17 years), supporting four teachers of Italian, and preparing lessons concerning different topics (literature, geography, grammar, civilization). Besides the classic range of classroom tasks such as text analysis, speaking, listening etc., I also set up a series of alternative activities including viewing films, reading newspapers, guided tours held in Italian and role-playing games. This same passion for teaching inspired the writing of my Master’s thesis, in which I examined conversations between speakers of different languages, aiming at learning each other’s language, by the use of computers (through video conferences and chat).

Why did you choose your specific subject?

I love everything related to languages: reading, writing, translating, grammar, phonetics etc. and I want to communicate this passion to my students.

What attracted you to teaching languages as a native speaker?

I became teacher of Italian, French and Spanish in England because as an Italian native speaker and as a linguist, I am keen to share my passion for languages to all students. Additionally I can teach them notions of Italian/French/Spanish literature, history and culture as well as talk with them about specific characteristics of different countries.

Why did you decide to teach/train in England?

Before applying for a teaching traineeship in the UK, I collected a great deal of information about the English school system and I remember being impressed by the emphasis put on motivation and professionalism of teachers. 

What would you say to other native speakers on training/teaching languages?

Unfortunately there is often bad press about Modern Foreign Languages and prospective teachers are sometimes put off by the fact that English students have a reputation of not liking learning languages. The truth is that students are actually fascinated by real people speaking other languages. So my advice would be: the more you expose your students to the target language, the better. 

Did you have any additional training, such as an SKE to increase your skills?  If so how did this help?

I attended a Spanish enhancement course for teachers during my PGCE year which helped me develop a better methodology on how to teach certain topics/grammar notions in this subject.

How do you see yourself progressing in your career as a teacher?

I am currently Head of Languages, which was one of the goals that I set for myself when I started teaching. In the future I would like to teach MFL at A-level.

If you received a bursary, how did this help towards your teacher training? 

Yes, I received a bursary and it helped me sustain myself financially during my PGCE year.

Is there more opportunity for career progression teaching in England then your home country? If so why is this?

In England schools have an extremely hierarchical structure, and teachers can work in a variety of roles (Head of Department/ Faculty, Head of Year, Assistant Headteacher etc.). In Italy the situation is very different and teachers have fewer opportunities to progress with their career.

As a teacher from the EU/EEA did you have to do any additional checks for your degree (such as NARIC)? Can you explain what the process was and how easy this was?

I requested a self-certification form from the University of Portsmouth and I was able to “translate” my degrees from Italian to English. I presented original copies. It was an easy process but I ensured all documents were signed by my Italian University tutor to be official.

Find out more about our teacher training programme by watching this short film 

Filed under: Teacher training Posted at 10:56

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