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Vivien Greenow - nee Fundell (BA French 1956)


After graduating I did a PGCE at the Institute of Education, University of London, and then embarked on a teaching career, teaching French and Latin at first, then just French to A level. I was married in 1962 and had a break of 10 years or so raising three children. I returned to teaching French, at first part-time in primary schools, then at a girls' independent school until I took early retirement in 1992.

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

It had a good reputation for French, and at that time was the only university where the year abroad was compulsory and an integral part of the course.

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

It was a campus university, with everything on site, and one lived in halls throughout the course. It was a small group of only 17 studying French in our year, so we really knew our lecturers. I made friends I am still in touch with.

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

Have an open mind, be prepared to learn from every new experience, and do use some of your free time for background reading!

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

It was what gave me my ability in spoken French. I lived with French people, and took a course at the British Institute which included phonetics and spoken French.

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

In my retirement I have become involved with our local Twinning Association and have frequent contacts with France. I go to France whenever possible, and only last week was mistaken for a French person ! I remember being told as a student of the 3 stages of learning French - 1,understanding when spoken to, 2, making oneself understood, and 3 being taken for a native speaker. I think I have reached the third stage now!

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

As well as being fluent in the language it is essential to be a trained teacher. I went to London for my PGCE as at that time I knew Paris better than London, but I could have stayed at Reading.

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

Take a PGCE course which specialises in language teaching.

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

I am grateful for what my linguistic skills have enabled me to do, both in my career and my retirement.

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

It provided the basis for my career, and my membership of the Sailing Club fostered an interest which later led to my meeting my husband!

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