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Melissa Whitaker (BA Applied English Language Studies 2011)


Having toyed with the idea of being a teacher in my teens, I went to LSU University in Southampton - and left within the year: finances and pressures of being a teenager took hold. Having settled down, after a career in marketing and then children, my life's calling came about again - I wanted to teach!

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

Reading was the obvious choice due to childcare and living arrangements, I knew Reading would provide me with the course that I would have a passion for - Applied Language was that choice.

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

Despite being the oldest on my course, and having been told on my first day "You will never finish - you have children and too many other commitments"' (the person will remain anonymous!) That spurred me on even more to study well and prove them wrong. The person who said that too me became one of the most influential people on the course and I am forever grateful for the support and encouragement they gave me - this was the 'best bit' about Reading.

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

Put your head down, make the most of the amazing knowledge shared by the tutors and lecturers in the Language department.

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

I am Teaching! My calling became a reality after completing my degree and a subsequent PGCE, again at Reading. Having the skills in phonemic transcription and sounds of the English Language gave me the skills to apply to phonics teaching in Primary school - I had one up in my PGCE counterparts who's phonemic awareness was on par with some of my year 1 pupils! I am forever grateful for the encouragement from and skills of Jane Setter and Jackie Laws who I still refer to when I am teaching children of 5 about the vibrating voice-box when making voiced plosives, and parsing sentences within an inch of their lives! Children find it as fascinating as I still do! I also can't underestimate the impact that such amazing teaching has on me to this day - Claire Furneaux still inspires me with her teaching methods and the importance of real life evidence of learning in action to inspire learners.

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

Take it all in, enjoy and be inspired by the amazing teaching.

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

The career centre was well equipped to give me interview advice. I never knew that I fiddled with my necklace incessantly until I saw them!

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

Listen to the advice of the Career Centre and apply what they say.

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

My favourite memory is of Lesley Hammond reassuring me that, yes, I had got a first!

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