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Jennifer Palmer (BA German 1970)


I taught EFL in private language schools in Ramsgate, Libya, Spain and Mexico. Then switched to ESL and taught the Vietnamese boatpeople, Turkish and Indian immigrants in London and then taught EAP in various London universities completing my MA in TESOL and Applied Linguistics in 1999. I also edited 4 books of short stories for the Women's Press and Serpent's Tail and have written and self published 2 books since I retired back to Lancashire: one, a childhood memoir called 'Nowhere better than home' and the other my Pendle family history called 'Whipps, Watsons and Bulcocks: a Pendle family history, 1560-1960'. I continue to write and publish poetry, short stories and local history.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Reading?

I liked the look of the place when I came down for an interview.

What was the best bit about living and studying in Reading?

An easy relaxed lifestyle.

What top tips would you give to students who are beginning their studies?

Do a study skills course. Go out and meet people. Join some sort of club or society.

If applicable, how did you benefit from spending a year abroad?

This was the best year of my course/life. I learnt to live independently, travelled a lot and started to see something of the world.

What are you up to now? How did you get there?

I retired to my birthplace in rural Lancashire after 40 years living in London. I write poems, short stores and local history and I am a member of 3 writing groups, a history group, a patchwork group, a book club and various walking groups.

What would be your top tips for students interested in working in this sector?

I loved teaching EFL/ESL/EAP as I got to meet students from all over the globe. I also love writing especially now that I am retired.

How has the University of Reading and the Careers Centre helped in your chosen career path?

The university helped me by giving me the confidence to travel and teach abroad. I taught for a year in Libya, then Spain and Mexico and travelled extensively in the Middle East, North Africa and South America. While abroad I was inspired to write as a journalist and later fiction and local history.

What are your top tips for students graduating this year? What should they be doing to secure the job they want?

Find out who they are, what turns them on. Then try to find like-minded people.

What does the University mean to you and what is your favourite memory?

When I first went to Reading University in 1966, I had never been anywhere, not even on holiday apart from one week in Nelson, one in Morecambe and one in the Lake District. All my learning was from books. I studied French and German but had never been abroad. Reading was a step into the unknown as was the year abroad. I had come from a small rural community in East Lancashire where we didn't even have electricity until I was nine.I studied German French and History at A level and yearned to get away. Reading was just about far enough. I liked the semi-rural setting of Reading, close to the Thames and the countryside and yet close to London. I broadened my horizons in Reading and discovered a lust to see the world which I pursued later in my career. Now I am content to stay home and write. I'm happy to be back in my birthplace of Twiston, near Downham, near Clitheroe in Lancashire and wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

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