June 24, 2024, by Arts Placements

Learning English to Teaching English: My Time Working in a Primary School on the Teaching English as an Additional Language Placement

By Khadar Jamal

The Beginning

During my second year of university, I thought this would be a perfect time to search for placements. I checked the Faculty of Arts placement page and saw the Teaching English as an Additional Language placement. I am someone who is strongly considering pursuing teaching as a career after university, and I also had to learn English as an additional language as a child, so the placement was a match for me for so many reasons.   Instantly, I applied, and I was incredibly eager to do this placement. Interviews are quite daunting, but the interviewers allowed me to express myself comfortably and made it a nice experience. After that, there were some training sessions to help us out a bit before we started.

Placement Structure

The placement started in the spring semester and lasted 8 weeks although I continued mine into the summer term. Every student on the placement partnered with another.  This was a really nice  support system for the duration of your placement. My placement sessions were once a week and an hour and a half or for the entire morning which was convenient as I was able to fit this around my studies and other commitments. My school was in Bulwell which was far from where I live.  I had to wake up much earlier than usual which was quite a challenge at first, but I got used to it in the end.

My Experience

Beginning the placement was quite daunting for me at first as I had never worked with young children in an educational capacity. It was a challenge I wanted to overcome to set me on the path of becoming an educator in the future and overcome it I did! It was a unique experience and I benefitted from it in a multitude of ways.

I was assigned to two children who were new to the UK, and it was incredibly wholesome to see them become more confident in their learning.  It felt so rewarding to be able to help them. However, the placement went beyond that. I was working with the children to help them with their English, but I also became like a classroom assistant as I would walk around and help out the other children and sometimes, they would just chat to me over general things which was nice.

I also spent a lot of time observing the teacher and how she taught and handled behaviour management. As well as helping my pupils improve their English language skills, I also gained first-hand experience of a setting I might be in professionally in the future and experience and observe the depth of teaching.


Working with children was special and it was a wholly rewarding experience that I will cherish for a long time. I am glad I did it and I would definitely recommend it to anyone considering teaching or who just wants to make a positive impact on young lives. My placement is almost coming to an end which is quite bittersweet, but it goes to show the impact it had on me, and I am sure anyone else who does the placement would be feeling the same.

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