In a new series of interviews we meet some of the team behind City’s short courses. First up, our languages coordinator, Agnes Shepherd
1.Please tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Agnes Shepherd and I’m the Course Coordinator for languages at City’s short courses – which means that I organise how the languages courses are run. I am also a native French speaker and a French teacher who is passionate about teaching. I love to watch students progress and get a great sense of achievement when I see that lightbulb moment as students start to learn. I think it’s also important to teach students about the culture of a country, not just the language. In my spare time I like travelling, learning about ancient history and gardening.
2. What’s your role at City and how does it work?
I coordinate the language courses at City where we offer ten different languages across a variety of levels from beginners up to advanced. City is actually one of the few language providers to offer Japanese language courses right the way up to advanced level. In total I look after more than 25 courses and manage all the visiting lecturers, language enquiries, relevant marketing, social media, and administrative issues. I also come up with new ideas for courses, such as our recent holiday French course. And watch this space for our brand-new simple conversation classes!
3. Why do you think it’s important to learn a foreign language?
First of all, it’s important for effective communication. While English might be the most commonly spoken international language, if you want to communicate well while abroad or when you work with colleagues from overseas, I would say it’s crucial to learn that language.
Secondly, it is excellent gymnastics for the brain. You get to stretch yourself and fire up those neurons in a way that research has proven to be beneficial. Whether you learn Spanish, Korean or German you get to extend yourself.
Finally, but not least, it’s fun. When you learn a language, you are with peers of a similar level. It’s great to discover together the intricacy and pronunciation of a language. You get an extraordinary buzz when you realise that you are making proper sentences. Maybe you’ll find yourself abroad and suddenly the waiters understand your order, or your French colleagues will invite you for lunch and you can finally participate in the conversation!
4. What are your three top tips for learning a foreign language?
- Immerse yourself as much as possible: join a language course where speaking in the target language is prioritised. Having to speak in a foreign language, with feedback from your tutor, will accelerate your language skills.
- A little bit every day: while on your language course make sure you practice even a tiny bit each day, whether that’s grammar, vocabulary or even reading packet labels in the target language, it all helps to build your knowledge and understanding.
- Develop a peer group within your class and do some fun activities together through Whatsapp, or even go to see a film together.
5. Why would you recommend studying a language short course at City?
City’s teachers are all qualified, native speakers who follow the European framework (CEFR) for language learning. Through interactive and engaging methods of teaching, they will teach you more than just a language; they will teach you about the culture too. You’ll be with peers and slowly you will find, even if you’re really shy about learning and speaking a language, you’ll make good friends. Our teachers will put you at ease and before you know it, you’ll be speaking and understanding your chosen language. For example, if you learn Arabic, our tutor Ahmed will provide you with lots of relevant material which will help you quickly progress.
Agnes Shepherd coordinates City’s language short courses.
Agnes also teaches City’s short online French language courses.
For more about our other online language courses visit our website.