17/02/2014, by CLAS

Nottingham Advantage Award: Students Become Teachers!

During the Autumn Semester 2013-14, and fresh from their year abroad as British Council Language Assistants, three CLAS final-year undergraduate students – Olivia Gowie and Matthew York from the Department of German Studies, and Melissa Watson from the Department of French & Francophone Studies – undertook a language-teaching project at Greenfields Primary School, Nottingham, as part of their Nottingham Advantage Award. Here, they tell us about the project…

After participating in the British Council assistantship, we were inspired to take part in this Nottingham Advantage Award module. Over a five week period, we gave language support to primary school parents whose first language was not English. Each week we introduced a different topic that was relevant to their daily lives.

Read on to find out about our experience:

Olivia: Taking part in this module was a challenging and rewarding experience. After teaching English in a college in Germany, I went into the classroom with confidence. However, I had underestimated how difficult it would be to teach students who had almost no knowledge of English, while I equally had no knowledge of their native language. It was extremely rewarding, I am delighted to have had the opportunity to get involved with the local community in Nottingham. I hope that the students feel that they learnt something from us and that if nothing else, they are now more confident in holding conversations in English.

Melissa: During my year abroad I had a great experience working as a language assistant in a primary school. I thought that this advantage award module would give me the chance to further develop my teaching skills. I wanted to take this opportunity as I wanted to work with a different age group as well as the fact that after my own experience of speaking another language abroad I thought that I would better understand the parents’ challenges. It was a rewarding and enjoyable experience particularly as I was able to get involved in the local community and work in a multicultural environment.

Matthew: Becoming involved in the English Language for Primary Parents Nottingham Advantage Award module has not only been an extremely rewarding and engaging project but also it has enabled me to experience another side to life in the city of Nottingham, a side that is often distinctly separated from the university environment. Working with the parents over a five week period I enjoyed building a strong rapport with them and creating a relaxed and informal atmosphere in the classroom. Each week it was encouraging to see the parents growing in confidence and improving their ability to converse freely and to challenge themselves to try new structures and vocabulary. The project has been a definite highlight of my university experience and is a must for all students that want to make a positive impact on the lives of people in the local community.

For any language assistants returning from their year abroad, this is a fantastic opportunity to enhance your language teaching skills, get involved in the local community and gain real-life experience outside of the University environment.

Olivia Gowie (Department of German)

Melissa Watson (Department of French & Francophone Studies)

Matthew York (Department of German)


(Photograph: Jeffrey Coolidge/Getty Images.)

Posted in French and Francophone StudiesGerman StudiesOutreach