Please tell us a bit about yourself, where you are from, your background etc?
I am a Nursery teacher, but have always been interested in learning new languages. I studied translation and later I did a masters in TEFL in Chile, my country of origin. I have been teaching English for more than 10 years, specially in underprivileged contexts and large classes. I started my career as a teacher trainer in 2013, focused on in-service teachers working under difficult circumstances.
What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?
I heard about Leeds in 2007, when I first became interested in studying an MA course in the UK. My mentors at the time in Chile suggested Leeds, particularly so, as many of their Chilean peers had carried out work with University of Leeds’ academics.
What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?
Learning is my passion. I love teaching because I love learning. I have been privileged with studying and working abroad, learning from other cultures. English facilitated that process. In Chile, there is a deep social and economic gap between those who can afford good quality education, and those who cannot. Learning English at school is a privilege for a few. My dream is that there is free and good education for all. In the meantime, my purpose is to contribute to bridging the gap between the many students who do not even dare to dream, and the teachers who work with them.
What did you think of your course – what aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?
I deeply enjoyed the teaching and the discussions in class. Our tutors strongly encouraged us to discuss and debate what is presented in class; sharing with my course mates, learning from their experiences, widening my perspective, which was priceless. I also enjoyed the voluntary group discussion organised with a small group of course mates, following a suggestion from our tutors. We booked a study room at the library - every week, same day, same time. Discussing the readings for the upcoming sessions made a huge difference to our studies.
What would you say about the learning facilities in the School and at the University in general?
The library has the resources you need. For one of my assignments I needed a book that was not in the catalogue, so I requested it and the Library staff contacted me when it was ready to collect. The computer clusters are also a great resource for those who prefer working on campus. Some are available 24/7 even when the other facilities are closed.
How do you find the student support in the School?
The student support in the School of Education is excellent. Support for international students makes a great difference in our lives and the staff are not only helpful but also kind.
What other activities are available for students to take part in outside of their studies, and which ones did you try out yourself? (e.g. Clubs & Societies/activities in the School).
The School of Education offers different activities that foster a sense of community. The celebration of Christmas or Burns’ night are memorable. Students can share with course mates, students from other programmes and also with the academics and staff from the School. Likewise, the Student’s Union has an extensive list of societies. I participated in some give-it-a-go sessions. I am sure they have something for everyone.
What do you think about Leeds as a city?
It is a great city to live in. It is underrated in my opinion. The University is in a great location, close to the city and to other more residential areas. Leeds has a very active cultural life. It is common to find little cafes with live music in Headingley, and Hyde Park picture house is a must, but you can also find activities for a wide variety of interests.
What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?
I can only encourage them to continue, complete their application and come to Leeds. The academic staff are not only experts in their fields, but also truly show an interest in students' learning. Most importantly, the courses are designed in a way that the discourse is coherent with what really happens. My year in Leeds exceeded my expectations by far.
What do you plan to do once you’ve finished your course? What are you career aspirations?
For now, I expect to continue doing my PhD. After that I will go back to my country and keep working with in-service teachers, but now with a more robust knowledge of what I am planning and doing. I would also like to work with pre-service teachers, hopefully in methodology and practicums.