Welcome

Why this blog?

I decided to start writing this blog as a way of bringing together my passion for teaching Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) and my love for linguistics. I am by no means an expert, but I am an  educated enthusiast and I am sure that through collaboration, we will all become experts – or at least- the best teachers of modern foreign languages that we can be!

My vision

My hope is that among my readers, I will attract the interest of linguists and teachers alike. In my humble opinion, it is imperative that pedagogy and linguistics come finally together in order to create a basic know-how  of teaching languages in the MFL classroom. I certainly cannot do it on my own, but I hope that you would like to collaborate by either commenting on the posts, writing a post or by allowing a researcher into your classroom.

I feel particularly lucky to have met so many passionate teachers and linguists in my career as a language teacher and a student of German and Linguistics. The effervescence in both fields has always taunted me and tempted me. As a student of Linguistics I was very keen to pursue a PhD  in Second Language Acquisition, however,  my desire to teach was greater and with a few years teaching experience under my belt, I  feel that it is time to dust off those research skills and get writing!

So to wrap this first post up and because I love bullet points! Here are my aims and motivations for starting this blog.

Thank you for reading, and do stick around, get in touch, let me know what you think and if you  are at all tempted  to collaborate, you have already made my day!

 

Read More →
Replies: 0 / Share:

Rationale

Why did I start this blog?

I feel particularly lucky to have met so many passionate teachers and linguists in my career as a language teacher and a student of German and Linguistics. The effervescence in both fields has always taunted me and tempted me. As a student of Linguistics I was very keen to pursue a PhD in Second Language Acquisition, however, after doing my dissertation on  the effects of feedback, I realised that I had much more to learn with regards to teaching languages.  This reinforced my desire to teach children.

During my PGDE I realised that teaching MFL to children is a completely different ball game from my experience in ESOL to adults. The stark contrast between these two similar -yet opposing fields is really outstanding. Added to this culture shock I also had my linguist cap on, thus making me evaluate the teaching rationale  observed at University, at school and of course my own.

If any of you out there have done CELTA and a PGDE/PGCE, you will most likely agree that despite the fact that both courses are designed to teach you to teach languages, they could not be more different from each other.  Trying to incorporate the best of both courses together with my experience in Second Language Acquisition and linguistics has been like trying to apply restorative practise with pupils that aren’t simply ready to embark in an honest conversation.  On the one hand, Linguistics has invaluable insights to the teaching and learning of ESOL, L1 and L2 Language Acquisition as well as Bilingualism. On the other, however, I have really struggled to find SLA articles that relate to the learning of MFL in a school setting.  In fact, whilst writing my dissertation, I found enough authors that resonated with my own assumptions of the current situation between SLA and MFL.

For instance, Dörnyei (2009:19) argues that “linguists have traditionally had little to say about how languages are learnt” and that interdisciplinary work within the domain of psychology is necessary in order “to find a substantial body of research relevant on the acquisition and development of L2 competence”.   Furthermore, Achard (2004:167) brings forward contrasting opinions in the design and implementation of SLA techniques; as he claims that linguists often regret that their expertise is overlooked in the design of methods and classroom activities. On the other hand, language teachers complain that the linguists’ expertise is:

“ […]simply of little help with practical classroom related matters because they do not find in current linguistic theories the elements which would help them in their daily activities by providing strong theoretical  guidelines on which to base a teaching methodology” Archard (2004:167).

After years of reading similar opinions, I am determined to contribute to the development of an interdisciplinary approach that is driven by the pedagogy of MFL.  I am confident that, this is the way in which the results of relevant research can be best implemented and evaluated.

I believe that this mammoth task can be broken down into micro-research that we can all take part in, perhaps eventually, some of us will want to either investigate it more formally or perhaps find linguists interested in collaborating with us. I am certainly interested in pursuing a PhD in this field, however, I feel that I have a long way before I can find an specific topic that I would like to research in depth.

Read More →
Replies: 0 / Share:

About me
What I currently teach

Hi! I am Sara and I currently teach Spanish and German at a secondary school in Edinburgh. I teach from S1 ( 12 year olds) up to S6 ( 17-18 years old). Teaching languages is without a doubt the best job I’ve had  and although teenagers are exhausting, they are also vibrant and definitely keep me on my toes!

Enjoying a hot chocolate after my final PGDE placement!

In the Scottish system , pupils take  official exams from when they are 15 years old and I have been fortunate enough to prepare children for their Nat 5, Higher and Advanced Higher (Spanish). I have also taught German but only to the younger years.

Background

I am a Mexican  and I grew up in a city called Puebla. Puebla is without a doubt one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico.  The baroque architecture of the town is really reminiscent of colonial wealth. 

Puebla is also known for having one of the largest Volkswagen plants in the world. Growing up in Puebla, I understood from an early age that those who spoke German, could aspire to some of the best jobs in the city, and thus my interest in German had sparked! Unfortunately it took much longer to actually get around to learning German.

“Late bloomer”

Yup, that’s me!  After studying  an AVCE in Business Administration and an A level in IT,  I started to- rather clumsily- climb the corporate ladder whilst working in Sales and Marketing .  After about eight years of various jobs, and feeling insecure about not having a degree, I finally decided to pursue a degree in German and Linguistics.

To do this, I had to study an Access course to Languages and Cultures. In fact, at the time, Edinburgh was the only city in the UK that did one and I will always be eternally grateful to Dieca Cummin  who had the vision to start such a programme four years before I enrolled. Without her, I would have never been accepted into a languages programme with my business A levels. 

Fast forward eight years – and a hell of a lot of work!- and  I am finally doing a job I absolutely adore!

Read More →
Replies: 0 / Share: