The Linguist

The Linguist 52,6

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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Page 21 of 35

FEATURES So you want to teach? Newly-qualified French teacher Dominic Luddy looks back at his experience of the PGCE qualification 'I'm back!'. And a broad smile grew. It dawned on me, as I stepped on to the leafy Avery Hill campus at the University of Greenwich, that 22 years earlier I had started my first degree in Modern Languages at the University of Bristol. Somehow a career spanning breakdown recovery, recruitment, marketing and journalism has led me to train to teach modern foreign languages. But it does make sense to me. I became a dad four years ago and realised the joy of teaching my boys. I never thought I had the patience but the rewards are so incredible. I'd worked close to education for more than 10 years, and project managing the national campaign for languages, Speak to the future, brought me closer than ever to the classroom. Moving into teaching felt like a natural progression. What better place to change young people's attitudes to language learning and rekindle my own passion? Teenagers can be a tough crowd, I soon realised. The PGCE was 'school-led', meaning that many of our workshops were run in school by teachers. During a day we'd go from learning about, say, use of praise, to observing how experienced teachers made it work and getting the chance to practise it ourselves on unsuspecting students. 22 The Linguist Learning about everything teachers do to keep students' attention and help them to progress felt bewildering: behaviour management, differentiation, planning, formative assessment, summative assessment, discipline, reward… the list goes on. I can only liken it to learning to drive, where gradually everything falls into place. One day, I shall cruise effortlessly from one end of the lesson to the other. In contrast, many student teachers of other subjects spent their early weeks at university. Hanging out in school together created a special camaraderie among the PGCE MFL crowd. Those bonds would be crucial as the course unfolded. We were about to venture out on our own, stumbling fawns just days old, wide-eyed, nervous, excited, as we awaited news of our first placement. For me, a catholic boys' school in Bexleyheath, Southeast London. First day at school St Columba's is a fast-improving school. I heard lots of comments about the 'challenging' nature of the boys there, but I enjoyed it and felt that the boys had the right attitude. I've not met more courteous pupils in the corridor, holding doors open, offering DECEMBER 2013/JANUARY 2014 to carry your books. Ok, they didn't always seem interested in learning, but it was my job to change that. I was lucky to be mentored by the MFL team at the school – and it was the whole team that mentored me, not just my official mentor, Nishka, and the teacher I worked with, Khalid. Linda, the Head of Department, nursed me through a teary moment after a particularly tough Year 10 experience. Khalid was a bundle of constant body-popping energy and incredible charisma. Watching him at work made me realise I needed to channel my inner gameshow host. Nishka's teaching was effortless, elegant, controlled – the cruise through the lesson I aspire to. A challenging experience The PGCE course is known as a gruelling qualification. I wouldn't disagree. The school placement was virtually full time – a mixture of observing other teachers and carrying out my own teaching. Although I took just a handful of lessons, each one seemed to take hours to prepare – surely not sustainable. On top of this, we attended lectures on professional studies with the whole cohort of PGCE students, went to our school-based workshops and ploughed through a never-

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