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Michael Eckford (BA French 1967)

Biography

I have spent most of my career as a teacher of languages: initially French and German, more recently as a teacher of English to foreign learners. I have worked in UK, Zimbabwe, Laos, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Viet Nam.

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

The languages department was recommended to me.

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

Meeting English people with backgrounds totally different from my own; also meeting overseas students.

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

Attend all lectures; keep up with the work; consult other students.

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

Spending a year in Toulouse helped me to become fluent in French. Until then I had been a very average speaker.

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

I am semi retired now. In 1998 I studied for TESOL Diploma at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. This opened the door to a NET job in Hong Kong. The rate of pay was terrific and set me up forever!

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

Never give up, no matter how often you are rejected!

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

The woman in charge suggested I consider teaching. It sowed a seed which grew and blossomed many years later!

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

Talk to as many people as possible: friends, family, professionals. Make many applications. Get advice on setting out your CV.

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

It was the first time my opinions were valued. I met people with outrageous ideas with whom I could freely exchange ideas without offence.

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