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Michael Pickles (BA French 1972)


I became deeply interested in, and fascinated by, languages from the start of my years at grammar school. After graduating and qualifying as a teacher I worked in schools in Bradford and then in Derby, where I was Head of Department in two schools. I was then very fortunate to gain the position of Director of the Languages Development Centre at St Martin's College, Lancaster, from where I moved into higher education. I have completed 20 years at Lancaster University with 1 year working at Cambridge University.

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

Because it was recommended to me by my French teacher: it was known, at the time, as having an innovative language teaching and learning methodology.
In addition, it was an opportunity to move to a different part of the country from my native Yorkshire!

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

I very much enjoyed my studies at Reading but my circle of friends developed mainly from Wantage Hall and the societies of which I was a member. These friendships have lasted to the present.

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

Settle in as quickly as you can. Make good friends. Don't go home during the first term! Study hard, especially beyond your taught courses and obligatory work.

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

Spending a year in France was in many ways an extension of the experience of moving away from home to study. It was both intellectually and socially valuable and greatly enhanced both my linguistic skills and my understanding of a different culture and mind-set.

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

I am currently a Teaching Fellow in French Studies at Lancaster University, teaching language in all year groups and also a contributing tutor to the core Year 2 Culture Course where I focus on the history of the French language and aspects of French sociolinguistics.

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

Not only should you have a passion for your discipline and your field but also a desire to encourage and expand young minds and attitudes

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

They were helpful in the initial stages of moving from university to my chosen career path.

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

Be confident, but not over-confident or demanding: the world does not owe you a living! Try to find a position in which you can use your knowledge and expertise, where you are happy to work, and rewards you for your commitment and input (which is much more than salary!)

Why did you decide to give to the University of Reading?

To assist those who might otherwise not have the opportunity that I had.

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

An environment and a community where I spent some of the most enjoyable years of my life and made strong, meaningful and enduring friendships.
Favourite memories: the sound of the rooks in autumn; Pancake and Cider Party on Shrove Tuesday; Jantaculum; formal dinners in Wantage Hall.

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