I have always enjoyed meeting people, making new friends and working out what makes them tick! To find common ground with those from other countries, it is helpful to know a bit about their culture; books, films, music, and above all, language. Conversational fluency allows you to become involved in life in other countries, rather than just observing from the side-lines. It can be challenging (there are lots of words out there...) but the right level of challenge is fun (honest!). After all, little that's worthwhile comes easy!
As for my life story... well, I loved language lessons at school and the trips abroad that came with them. I didn't have a career plan in my head so I just decided to learn more about the things that fired me up. So I applied to read French and Russian at Exeter University which saw me begin my third year abroad picking grapes in Bordeaux and end it with a Trans-Siberian trip from Moscow through the Far East. Not a bad start!
I then worked for three years on a finance management training programme at British Airways (my degree in languages got me in the door) before disappearing off to Milan to study opera singing and teach English, where the Direzione Investigativa Anti-Mafia featured among my corporate clients! Returning to the UK, I went to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the London Opera Studio and since then I have had some wonderful jobs performing repertoire in Italian, French, Spanish, Russian, German and Czech around the UK, Europe and further afield. Opera is the meeting point of music, language, literature and art, so it is my spiritual home. But I have a second home in France which my partner and I have been renovating and that's where I spend any downtime. Following a TEFL course and a PGCE from Canterbury Christ Church, I began to teach French and Spanish in schools and I now combine my opera singing with a career in language tuition.
The key that has opened all these doors and allowed me to pursue these different paths has been my curiosity about languages. It is this enthusiasm, delight and spirit of enquiry into languages and foreign cultures that I am keen to pass on to others. Every word we use has its own history, evolution and mini-culture embedded in it, along with its connections to other languages. It is this fascinating world of discovery that I would like to equip others to explore as well.
What else floats my boat? Well... sailing, kayaking, hiking, cycling, yoga, theatre, movies, reading, eating out, evenings by the fire and planning our next trip abroad!
Teaching French and Spanish as a classroom practitioner in secondary schools (Key stage 3 to A level) has provided me with a wide range of teaching techniques to engage young minds and enable them to make outstanding progress, including those with Special Educational Needs. In school I taught the revised AQA GCSE specification. Since then, I have been applying and developing techniques and resources as a French, Spanish and Italian tutor, gaining considerable experience in preparing pupils for the Cambridge iGCSE Italian exam as well as the French Baccalaureate for Spanish. In addition, I have worked as a year 13 form tutor, supporting students through their final school year and the UCAS process, refining their personal statements and applications and helping them to secure places on a range of Higher Education courses. I also participated on an intensive exchange programme in Belgium and Holland, giving lessons on specific aspects of language and culture.
As an opera singer I have frequently taught and coached younger singers in foreign languages, accuracy of pronunciation, interpretation and clear communication of meaning, as well as vocal technique. I am regularly asked to participate on educational outreach projects by the Royal Opera, Glyndebourne and English Touring Opera, and I have performed in a specially-commissioned piece aimed at attracting young people to the world of classical music.
When I lived and worked in Milan, I taught English both to small groups of corporate clients and to private individuals. This was primarily aimed at business professionals wishing to improve their communication skills in English, so I would address my clients' particular needs in various ways; short texts to learn about appropriate register (formal/informal), breaking down and practising specific grammar points, and conducting conversation-based lessons.
We all learn languages differently, and it is my job to find out how you learn best so that you can make progress in a mixed spirit of fun and challenge. We'll start with working out what level you are at, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and how I can best help you move forward and build independent study skills. Each lesson will be carefully planned either to complement any scheme of learning you may be following in school, or if appropriate, to establish a tailored scheme of our own. If you are studying for exams, there are certain topics we will have to cover, but I'll always try to approach them in a way that matches your interests. It's hard for anyone to learn well if they are not hooked into the subject matter!
Language learning is not just the acquisition of knowledge. It is the combination of developing four practical skills - listening, speaking, reading and writing - and of dealing with the thorny issue of grammar. The clue to the skills bit is in the word "practical". Skills require practice. Using a range of relevant and topical resources and past papers, I'll provide audio clips to listen to (radio, music, real life situations...), opportunities for dialogue and pronunciation tips, texts and articles to read and structured writing tasks. These will also be designed to help you build your vocabulary, so that you are memorising words by practising them, rather than learning lists of words in isolation.
As for grammar - this is the science behind the art. It is the logical "glue" that sticks words together and makes communication happen. For instance, if I ask you about your homework and you reply "I've done it", "I'm doing it" or "I'll do it", I only get what you're telling me if we both understand the difference in the tenses. So I won't avoid grammar, but I will approach it very differently according to how you feel about it. Some people love it! Basically, I think grammar can be explained or "absorbed", but it remains a vital part of the toolkit that will eventually boost your confidence, allowing you to succeed in exams and providing a shortcut for learning other languages later in life.
For A level, it's more of the same really, but with the added bonus of investigating some of the literature and films of the country's culture. Having directed operas in the past, the exploration of plays and stories is close to my heart. It's all about looking at how writers and film-makers communicate themes, social ideas and characterisations through style, form, medium and choice of words. We'll go about developing those skills through a range of approaches, study aids and exam-style questions.
When it comes to exams, we will carefully adopt productive revision methods and develop efficient and effective exam technique to help you get the results you deserve.
DBS dated March 2017
|Languages||English (British), French|
|Availability||Weekends, Weekdays (all times)|
|References Available||On File|
|Canterbury Christ Church University||2017||PGCE||Modern Foreign Languages|
|Guildhall School of Music and Drama||2001||Masters||Music Performance|
|Exeter University||1995||Bachelors||French and Russian|