Emma Norman

Country: United Kingdom
Sector: Higher Education
Job title: French and English Teacher
Subject of study: French and Spanish
Year of graduation: 2018
Type/Level of study: Undergraduate

Current Employer/Organisation Name

Frankie’s Academia de Inglés

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

After graduating from Exeter in 2018 with a BA in French and Spanish, I went straight into a PGCE in Secondary Spanish at the University of Exeter. I graduated with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in 2019 and began working at a secondary school as a French and Spanish teacher in order to complete my NQT teaching year. After achieving my NQT, I moved to Spain to teach French and English at a private language academy for Spanish students. This is my current role.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

I have always been passionate about languages and about the role that your school journey has in shaping your future career. I therefore wanted to combine these passions and inspire future linguists by becoming a teacher. What I love most about my work is the ability to share cultural knowledge with my students, and watching how their experiences with languages in the classroom shapes their desire to see and become part of an increasingly multicultural world.

Please tell us if you were a member of any societies, groups or sports clubs?

In my first year as an Exeter undergraduate, I was part of the French and Spanish language societies. However in my second and fourth years, I focused on joining more sports societies such as water polo and Taekwondo, which allowed me to meet students from other courses. I also joined Xpression FM, taking part in news bulletin readings: I had always had a passion for radio before coming to university, and this allowed me to spend time with likeminded students.

Were you part of the Exeter Student Ambassador Scheme at any point during your studies?

Yes.

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?

What I enjoyed most about the languages programme at Exeter was the ability to choose a variety of modules to suit my interests. I started Spanish at university as an ab initio course – and thanks to that I now live in Spain! As well as Spanish, I was able to focus on other subjects that I had never studied but in which I had always had a personal interest, such as French philosophy. The biggest highlight for me was the year abroad – it allowed me to practise my languages without the safety blanket of being in the classroom, which significantly increased my confidence in my linguistic abilities and myself. It also gave me a taste of what life would be like after university, an experience which I used to help me decide my career path after graduation.

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

What I loved about Exeter was how friendly the languages staff were: they were always incredibly supportive and happy to help with any doubts that I or my friends had, both academic and pastoral. Thanks to the large number of universities and modules, there were lots of opportunities to stray outside of your comfort zone and try something new, which sets you up perfectly for your life after university.

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

What initially attracted me to Exeter was how green it was! I have always loved the countryside and the outdoors, and so the beautiful campus left me spellbound. I also loved the idea that I could vary my module choices and try out new subjects, which was something that not many other universities were offering at the time.

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

The most useful skills have been the communication and cultural awareness skills that languages teach you. I regularly have to communicate with students, parents and colleagues about different matters which, especially as I do not live in my native country, require good people skills. One of the most useful experiences for my career has been regularly moving house throughout university, both within Exeter and abroad. Not only did it teach me how to overcome some of the more banal problems in life, such as switching broadband providers, but it also taught me to be independent and how to make decisions well, which have been vital skills in all of my teaching jobs since graduating.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

My advice would be to gain experience in whatever career you are interested in before committing to a job in it. My time as a British Council language assistant gave me an excellent taster of teaching life, and showed me what skills I should expand on before pursing the career full-time after university. This meant that when I came to apply for my PGCE, I was confident in my abilities and in my desire to pursue teaching.

What are your plans for the future?

I aim to return to the UK at some point and perhaps try my hand at some other careers, but it will always be essential to me to work in a job where I can use my language and communication skills!

 

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