Back to School…

…by Jess / from Grimsby, England / studying French and Linguistics / 3rd year

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Without doubt, working as a Curriculum Ambassador for French was one of the most rewarding and worth-while experiences I have taken up since joining university. Over six months, I taught French to a class of Primary 6 pupils every week at Prestonfield Primary School in South Edinburgh, with the mission of widening participation into higher education. Each week, I planned lessons in line with the Scottish curriculum for modern languages, with the aim of giving each child the opportunity to see the world beyond the classroom. The majority of children in my class had never travelled abroad or experienced another culture. Consequently, I felt determined over my six months of weekly lessons to fill this gap in their cultural understanding and to broaden their horizons.

In order to achieve my goal, I worked hard alongside my studies to brainstorm creative and engaging lessons for the children. Making the most of the resources available, I created interactive presentations, enjoyable group activities and exciting competitions within the classroom. After six months of jam-packed weekly lessons, I wanted to give the children a cultural experience, while having the opportunity to test the linguistic knowledge retained from our lessons. Therefore, in our last lesson I organised a French café in the classroom.

It was incredible to see the progress that the children had made over the six months, as they introduced themselves and ordered what they wanted in French. Not only was I proud of the pupils, but they were proud of themselves. To see them achieve, have confidence in their abilities and experience a new culture for the first time made the experience so worthwhile.

In all, I believe that the entire experience has benefited my future. Thrown in at the deep end, I designed every lesson, inventing my own ideas. This made me more creative and pushed me to allocate enough time to plan fulfilling lessons. Through leading the class, my self-confidence came on in leaps and bounds, as well as my ability to be assertive with behaviour management. I gained great interpersonal skills through working with the children and teachers from a range of backgrounds. The experience has allowed me to become more professional and ultimately, has led me to achieve my dream job. In November 2018, I was offered a graduate position for 2020 on the Teach First Leadership Development Programme, teaching MFL as a secondary school teacher from September 2020. Having attended a Teach First school myself as a student, I feel so excited to give back to this organisation who ultimately helped me to attend a university as great as Edinburgh!

Being a student at Edinburgh has taught me that the more experiences you take, the more opportunities that become open to you. No matter where you come from, your dreams are in reach if you have the courage to step out of your comfort zone and pursue them. I will never forget the incredible experiences and opportunities that I have had during my time at Edinburgh.


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