Students offered teaching roles following English tutoring experience

Wed 15 September, 2021
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Two students from the University of Bedfordshire have been offered Teaching Assistant roles at local education institutions after taking part in an English language tutoring project.

International students from the School of Education and English Language, Margareta Hajdo and Valeria Bragar, have been helping pupils in the area learn English as an additional language (EAL) as part of a partnership between the University and local schools and colleges. They have now respectively been offered permanent roles with Castle Newnham School and Bedford College.

ValeriaInitiated by the University’s Aspire Higher programme, the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) partnership began in 2020 and has seen the two Applied Linguistics (TEFL) MA students help children with a mother tongue other than English to learn the English language. Many of the pupils who took part were ‘looked after children’ who have been living in the UK for less than two years, and they not only received help with their language but also with IT skills, budgeting tips and post-school options, where relevant.

Classes of this type continued over summer this year with the 'Aspire Higher EAL Summer Programme' – a project run by Aspire Higher and Luton Advice Service with pupils referred by Luton’s Virtual School. Margareta and Valeria delivered 12 sessions to school-age children, many of whom were young refugees, with Valeria continuing to teach remotely from her home-country, Greece.

Valeria, who joined Bedford College as a Teaching Assistant in early September, commented: “The dynamic of the Luton’s Virtual School class was different from our term-time ones because their level of English varied, and the topics we needed to deliver were also different.

“However, this was another great opportunity to strengthen our skills and again, helping students to be more at ease when they start college was really nice and I hope that they benefitted from our sessions.”

Alongside the Luton’s Virtual School classes, Margareta, who will be teaching children with special educational needs (SEN) at Castle Newnham, has been tutoring a student from Thailand who attends Mark Rutherford School.

Mark Rutherford SchoolPanuwat joined Mark Rutherford School in October 2019 with little more than a few words of English. Following sessions with Margareta, however, his confidence and abilities have grown to the point where his father, Peter, wrote to thank Margareta for her tutelage. In his letter of thanks, Peter wrote:

“Panuwat is now looking as though he will be able to join his Computing Course at Bedford College starting in September and without the support of this project he probably would not have had a chance of obtaining a place.

“We are so grateful to all involved in making this project happen and in particular to Margareta Hajdo for her skills in teaching and managing the progress of Panuwat over the last few months. Her lessons have built his confidence as well as his capability and she can be proud of her achievement.”

MargaretaAbout her time working with Panuwat, Margareta said: “I was initially told that he needed improvement on his writing, however during our first session, it was clear that he needed more help than I anticipated. So I designed lessons tailored to his needs and to change his mentality, I encouraged him to say ‘It is hard, but I can do it’ which became our motto during lessons. I’m happy to say that his English skills improved so much that was accepted to start college in September!

“It was so worthwhile taking part in this project. Seeing your students’ success is something that stays with you in the most positive way. Moreover, personally, it gave me more clarity about what I would like to pursue in the future, and I can definitely say that this project was a very strong foundation for me to start my professional career in education.”

She concluded: “I can’t really put it into words how grateful I am for this opportunity. I can only encourage future university students to take part in this project because it will not only enhance their employability skills and build their confidence but because the feeling of helping others to achieve their full potential is sensational.”

Emma Semi, Aspire Higher Project Officer and lead organiser of the English language partnership, added:

“I have been working with Valeria and Margareta since January this year and they have been exemplary students. Seeing them develop and the popularity of their classes has been very rewarding.

“Valeria and Margareta are fantastic teachers and they have grown in confidence with their teaching skills; not only with the planning of their sessions, but through their rapport with the young people, the passion and commitment to these projects.

“It is great to see them both secure teaching jobs. Their work in partnership with the Aspire Higher team at the University has strengthened our relationships and our ability to develop more exciting initiatives.”

For details of programmes and projects organised by Aspire Higher, visit their dedicated website.

Further information about English Language courses on offer at the University of Bedfordshire can be found online:

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