Placement blogs

Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences' students share their placement and year abroad experiences.

Pique, tref, cœur,carreux - card suits

📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

This means respectively: spade, club, heart, diamond.

I learned this playing a drinking game with my housemates and his four friends that are visiting us. We were playing a game where you had to guess what suit a card was, and I couldn’t hear what ‘diamond’ was let alone pronounce it, so I always said cœur or tref. It’s really good practise to speak in an environment like that though because it totally forces you, and paired with the vin blanc we were drinking it made for a very French and surprisingly fluent night. I’m so glad I live with housemates my own age and I’d advise anyone else to do the same.


Un parasseux - a sloth

📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

This means (in a noun form) “sloth”.

I learnt this because I spent some of my day watching nature videos about sloths and reading Life of Pi. I’ve always really liked sloths and it’s nice to read about things you’re interested in in other languages. Random but that’s what languages are all about… I just hope I don’t get parasseuse myself…


Fiche de Lecture - synopsis

📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

I spent a lot of work today on my Fiche de Lecture, for my Master’s course in European studies. It’s hard to know what a French university wants of you in terms of essays because they do it very differently here. You can interpret a question any way you like but it has to be very precise and extremely well structured. Fiche de Lecture means a synopsis, and I chose a book about European identity to do mine on.



📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

To become clogged.

I found this lovely piece of information when I returned to mundane life after a perfect time in Madrid to find a sink blocked in the bathroom. Half a bottle of bleach and some new vocabulary later, we’re doing okay again.


Year Abroad II – working in a local language school

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📥  2016-17, Politics, Languages & International Studies

Fécamp, Normandy, France.                                                                                                                                                       November, 2016.

Je suis revenue! I’m back! This time, as I mentioned in my previous post, I will explain what I am doing in this northern corner of France: my teaching placement in Fécamp.

Where do I work?

I work in a small family-run English school called ‘The English Centre des Hautes-Falaises’ in Fécamp.

Fécamp is a picturesque coastal town situated in the Valmont river valley in the Seine-Maritime department (Haute-Normandie region) only 35km away from Le Havre. The town has around 20.000 inhabitants and there are a couple of schools and high schools, so there are quite a lot of children of various ages coming to the language school, both from Fécamp itself but also from nearby towns and villages.


The school is located inside an old flour mill that stopped working in 2007. I was amazed when I first arrived! All the objects and machinery from the mill are still well kept in the main building. However, the school is within the property but not inside the mill itself. The English Centre is made out of different classrooms in varying sizes: the office and four different classrooms ranging in size to accommodate individual students through to a considerable amount of toddlers running around.  All the rooms are decorated with English paraphernalia to your heart’s content: flags, Beatles posters, teapots, The Doctor, the Royal Family, red post boxes… there is even a Sherlock Holmes and telephone booth to greet you at the entrance! Apart from these things, the school is well equipped with tons of vocabulary posters, craft supplies, games, books, whiteboards… which are at our disposal for the lessons. Anything we might need for the lessons, we can more than likely find – it’s all about being creative and engaging here!

The views from the top of the Mill are amazing!

The views from the top of the Mill are amazing!



One of the main characteristics of the school is that a lot of importance is given to learning English in a fun and engaging way, while achieving results. This means that the lessons are very dynamic in order to keep the students interested: different topics for the adult lessons and lots of different games and songs for the children’s lessons. We use some course books sporadically but the main stress is on learning through games. Therefore, the English Centre has a lively atmosphere every single day –and as a stagiaire you have to keep up with the action! The strangest thing I’ve had to do so far would probably be performing ‘Lollipops’ with a wig and fake microphone up on a stage with one of the other stagiaires while a group of 6 year-olds stared at us in astonishment. A fun lesson that was!

What does my role entail?

As one of the placement students of the school, my role is to teach English to French children, teenagers and adults. This means that I assist the main teacher when it comes to larger groups (mainly children), but I also have to plan and implement individual lessons and some group adult lessons.

At the beginning, I found it hard to gauge the level of the students as I had never done any teaching myself, but during the first two weeks we were given a lot of assistance in order to learn our way around and grasp the dynamics of the lessons. During this time, we got to know the students – it took a while to learn everybody’s names, there are so many students! Slightly under a hundred I’d say! – but, soon enough, we learnt how the school works and how to handle the classes.

When it comes to individual or adult lessons, we are given quite a lot of freedom on the topics we can work on in class, so I’ve personally given some lessons on Tenerife, Musical Theatre and Films since they are topics that interest me; it’s a matter of balancing speaking, grammar points and topics which your students might also find interesting (or even better, tailor the lessons to the students’ own interests and needs which is, of course, the ultimate aim). We also have weekly meetings which help monitor the progress of the students, find solutions to any problems that might arise and distribute the work. I have found these, along with discussing the lessons with my colleagues throughout the weeks, a great way to improve my language teaching skills and overcome any problems that might arise!

We also have to do basic office admin like answering the phone or making sure the timetable is up to date. We don’t actually teach in a business-like environment ourselves, but we do assist the main teacher by phoning the workers from a partnering business throughout the week to help practice their English on the phone.

I’ve found my responsibilities as stagiaire quite varied which has been a great learning experience so far – I get to teach students from all ages and all backgrounds, and I have learnt so much since I’ve been here. All the students are lovely and (mostly) well-behaved and it is such a rewarding feeling when you notice a class has finally grasped a point you have been teaching them! All progress, little as it may be, absolutely makes my day!

The team.

Since The English Centre employs language students from different Universities in the UK, the staff changes every couple of months. The manager is a lovely woman who loves her job and makes sure that you are well settled and confident with your work at the centre – she always tells us “if you are happy here, things will run smoothly” and that is what we all want! Despite being a very busy woman, she is always there for you to reach out for if you need any help. Sometimes I haven’t really known what to prepare for certain lessons, for instance, because I haven’t met the student yet or because I am running out of ideas, and she has always offered help. Along with the manager, there are some other English teachers at the Centre who come and go. I got to meet one of them at the start of the placement before she left, and the other is working abroad at the moment. As I’ve said, they are all really nice and helpful and I literally have nothing negative to say! Since it is a family-run business, it is really important that everybody gets along well for things to run smoothly. Everybody has been really welcoming and helpful; if you put in the hard work and energy required, you will have a rewarding experience working here.

Wearing the red fleece uniform.

Wearing the red fleece uniform.

Concerning the British students, while I have been working here there have been two other exchange student stagiaires: a Bulgarian female student from Glasgow University and an English male student from Liverpool University. We all get along really well (especially because we all arrived at the same time so we’ve all learnt along the way together) and, since we all come from different places and have different backgrounds, it is great for the students who get to work with natives with different accents and perspectives of the UK – the variety makes a huge difference and keeps things interesting!

What is an average week like?

At the moment, since there are three stagiaires plus the main teacher, we get quite a lot of free time throughout the week. We work flexible hours which means that each day is different. Wednesdays and Saturdays are our busiest days as most Children lessons take place these days – morning and afternoon. The rest of the week, classes are spread out throughout the morning and the afternoon/evening, to suit the students’ availabilities. For instance, most adult lessons are in the evenings to allow for the clients to fit a lesson after the work day. Most lessons are an hour long with the exceptional hour-an-a-half. We get Sundays and another day of the week off each and, in addition to the free hours in between lessons, it means we only work around 15-20 hours each and have plenty of time to join other activities, work on assignments, plan lessons or any other thing you might want to do.

Aside from the classes, the Centre also organizes different fun events throughout the year. During my placement we’ve had a photo exhibition, a ‘speed-meeting’ event to practice English in 5-10’ conversations, Guy Fawkes night, a ‘Fish and Chips’ night and we have a concert night and a Christmas workshop coming up. As I’ve said, it is a very dynamic business and we do our best to share English traditions and offer opportunities to improve in English while having fun. All of these events have been really enjoyable!

We've organized and taken part in a few different events over the past four months.

We've organized and taken part in a few different events over the past four months.

My personal experience and thoughts.

I wanted a teaching placement because I thought the Year Abroad was the perfect opportunity to test the waters and find out if education was the thing for me. Both my parents are teachers and, as a non-British person, I had English lessons myself through to University. Other than that, I started off as a complete rookie – I had never taught lessons myself and all I knew about teaching came from what I had experienced as a student, what I’d seen at home and the content of the ELT unit offered to second year Modern Language students at Bath (which, by the way, you should totally take – it was interesting even if you aren’t contemplating teaching!). Fortunately, no previous experience was required for the position at The English Centre, but they do require you to work hard and be willing to learn. There is a great supporting system. You work hard and give the best of you, but you also get to share ideas and try new things while being assisted along the way. I have learnt so, so much during the past four months. Putting the ELT theory into practice does require a bit of creativity and on-the-spot problem solving at times – theory is not always the same as reality! However, at no time have I felt on my own and I think that is the main point I want to get across – if you are worried because of lack of experience, there is always a first time for everything!

In addition to gaining teaching experience, the perks of the placement which – I must mention – is unpaid, are a fully furnished house just two minutes away from the school and ten from the town centre with the bills included (gas, electricity, water, TV, Wi-Fi, washing machine…). In addition, we have received so much help from our hosts to get involved with activities and social life in the town and improve our French, it has been amazing! I have taken up some fitness sessions and the other two students have joined the local band and go to dance lessons. We have also been invited to take part in all sorts of events in town, from a charity marathon to a short film festival!

La maison - typical Norman house.

La maison - typical Norman house.

Even though it might not be the best placement to improve French, since you are indeed teaching English and speaking English most of the time at the workplace, the placement at Hautes-Falaises is a great opportunity to give teaching a try and experience for yourself what it is like to live in a French town. Everybody has been really nice and kind; it is just a matter of making that extra effort to speak French outside work.

If you are interested in a teaching placement where no two days are the same and you are surrounded by kind and supporting people, then definitely consider The English Centre! You can find the application details on Moodle and I promise, you will have a great time!

À bientot!







Atterrissage d'urgence - emergency landing

📥  Uncategorized

Today, I went to lectures as normal and then to the airport to catch my flight to Madrid to see my boyfriend. I arrived about 3 hours early because I’m far too keen about these things…

After I’d checked in, we were taken to a big hot hall where we waited for around two hours to board. This was around 11-12 at night. When we finally boarded, we could all tell something wasn’t right on the plane. I made friends with a French guy next to me as I translated what was being said over the speakers into French (we were flying Ryanair so it was mostly English and Spanish). I was mostly just nervous giggling, some people didn’t care and some people were a little more stressed. We were told after about an hour and a half that we had to do an emergency landing, we’d not really left Marseille and the flight would be cancelled. The only information we were given was that a man had been violent on the flight before or something. Those poor air stewards…

So we landed again at around 1:30am. Then we were taken back to the airport where staff ran around madly trying to get everyone into accommodation for the night. The flight was rescheduled for the following morning and we were all feeling a bit dead. What was lovely, though, was a group of teenage street dancers who were going to Madrid for a competition started performing one of their routines in the airport and it lifted everyone’s spirits a bit.

So at around 3 we were taken by bus to a hotel. They sorted our rooms out slowly, and when I was given my key I entered the room to find some guy asleep in it. I must have terrified him! I went back downstairs to find out they’d run out of rooms. At around 5 I found myself sharing a bed with no sheets with a previously unknown but very nice Chinese girl. We woke up the following morning, went straight to the airport and that flight was fine.

It was stressful and tiring but it happens, and it worked out okay. Next time I’m bringing a phone charger with me, but other than that it went fine in the end. And I had some of the best few days I’ve had since arriving here visiting my boyfriend in Madrid and exploring a totally new country. It was worth it in the end

Some pictures from Madrid:

madrid1 madrid2 madrid3 madrid4


Staying Sassy at SASI

📥  2016-17, Health

Nearly 4 months in now and I can say that deciding to move to Adelaide to spend my placement year at the South Australian Sports Institute has been one of the best decisions that I have ever made. SASI has welcomed me with open arms, I have met and worked with some incredibly talented people, and I am learning something new every day. So I wanted to use this blog to talk a bit about the work that I have been doing.


The ‘Bathies’ at the SASI Awards this year – us Brits scrub up well!

My placement has enabled me to see the different areas of SASI which have included Physiology, Talent Search and Strength and Conditioning. I have also worked with the Australian Paralympic Committee, who are based at SASI. This has been extremely advantageous as I have been exposed to different teams and different areas of Sport Science. As I am not entirely sure what area I want to go into yet, this has been a nice introduction to some of the pathways that I could follow in. It has also allowed me to develop a good rapport with many different staff members.

Exercise Physiology

Exercise Physiology is defined as the identification of physiological mechanisms underlying physical activity and the delivery of treatment services concerned with the analysis, improvement and maintenance of health and fitness. At SASI, this is related to elite athletes, and elite sport, so the goal in Exercise Physiology at SASI is to improve athletic performance through various means and as a result help South Australian athletes to win medals at the Olympic Games. As a Physiology placement student at SASI, I have helped with the field and lab testing conducted by the Exercise Physiologists. In the lab, I have helped to run Haemoglobin mass and lactate threshold tests. The haemoglobin mass test was to evaluate the effect of a block of altitude training amongst 3 of the SASI kayakers. The lactate threshold tests were to determine the training thresholds for the U23 rowers, and some of the kayakers. This type of testing helps to quantify athletes’ training, so they know essentially how intense to train (in terms of heart rate, VO2, power output and stroke rate) for them to accrue performance benefits such as increased aerobic fitness, or more anaerobic speed and power. I have also helped with field testing, such as conducting the beep test, agility tests, sprint times and vertical jump for hockey, beach volleyball and netball athletes.


A SASI rower being tested in the Exercise Physiology lab. They were carrying out a 7x4 test to determine their lactate thresholds and the associated variables, and some maximal data including heart rate and VO2.

Alongside the testing, I have also learnt about load monitoring, and how coaches and exercise physiologists do constant monitoring of athletes, through a plethora of performance and general wellbeing measures, to ensure that training effects are maximised. This has involved me being exposed a range of new computing programmes such as PolarFlow, Adapt, Training Peaks, Athlete Monitoring System, and to some of the more advanced features of Excel.

Talent Search

I have been massively involved in the Talent Search area of SASI, something very new to me and as such I have thoroughly enjoyed it. The SASI Talent Search Program is a fantastic initiative that selects athletes from Adelaide based secondary schools and Universities that have the potential to represent Australia on an International level in one, or more, of the talent search sports which include rowing, kayaking, beach volleyball and cycling. The program has shown great success, with a large number of athletes representing Australia at the Rio Olympic Games coming from the talent search pathway, and being identified from school, having never played their sport before! The steps are as follows: Phase 1 = secondary schools send in their athletes’ data which includes tests like the beep test, 20m sprint and vertical jump, along with height, weight, arm span and seated height. We then choose the top 2.5% of students, and as part of Phase 2a, go to the schools to test the athletes ourselves. At this stage, we do the same tests, to confirm the data that the schools have provided us with. This year, we expanded Phase 2a by going to test in 2 of the Universities in Adelaide, and also arranged a ‘Come and Try’ event where we were looking for raw talent in the sports. The next stage is sending all of this testing data to the coaches for the sports, who then narrow the athletes down even more to progress to Phase 2b testing. This year, we received 3466 athletes’ data from 36 schools in Phase 1, we tested 1034 from 36 sources in Phase 2 and chose 467 athletes for Phase 2b. Phase 2b testing involved the athletes coming to SASI to take part in more sport specific testing. This included strength testing in the gym for kayaking, various ball drills / skills for beach volleyball, a 6s and 2min sprint to determine power and cadence for cycling, and strength, power and endurance tests for rowing. From this, the coaches again look through all of the data and select the best of the best athletes for Phase 3. Phase 3 is the final stage of the pathway, and these athletes are then invited to be a part of the State Development Squad. This year we chose 121 athletes, across the 4 sports, to join the state development squads. From there, the hope is that they make state teams, then national teams, and hopefully get offered a SASI scholarship to train here, and hopefully progress to national sporting bodies for their sport, and represent Australia at the Olympic Games.



This was me running the Phase 2a testing at Adelaide University (Note that I am wearing shorts, and this was taken in September on a 25 degrees day!!)

Strength and Conditioning

As part of our placement, we have been given the opportunity to complete our Level 1 Australian Strength and Conditioning Association qualification which now that we have all passed (yay!), we are qualified strength and conditioning coaches. As part of this, we had to observe 30 hours of strength and conditioning coaching in the SASI gym, which enabled us to observe many different athletes in a large variety of sports train, and see the types of training that the coaches have prescribed. As a result, we now supervise the SASI Staff training hours, where we are able to offer our insight and expertise to the staff members (although most are way fitter and more qualified than me so it ends up being a very quiet session!).


It’s not every day that you get to see Olympic athletes train, or better yet, go to an awards night and have a drink with them! On the left is myself and Kyle Chalmers, Australian superstar swimmer who bagged himself two gold medals and one bronze medal at the Rio Olympic Games, at his first international swimming event and aged only 18! On the right is myself and Anna Meares (I hope that you didn’t need the explanation), world famous and world best (sorry Vikky P) cyclist, another Olympian who won a bronze medal at Rio, to add to her collection.

Australian Paralympic Committee

As it was pretty quiet for me in Exercise Physiology post Olympics, I asked the Australian Paralmpic Committee (APC) if they needed any help or had any jobs for me to do. They readily accepted my offer, and ever since I have been working on a Post-Olympic performance profiling database and now report for Swimming Australia. This has involved me recording every medallist in every Paralympic swimming event from the games alongside some historical data such as their first Paralympic and World Champ appearance and time, details of their impairment, annual best times over the past 8 years, and many other details. Now that I have done all of the data entry, I am helping the Australian Paralympic Skill Acquisitioner write a report for Swimming Australia about the classes that Australia can target to win more medals, or identify which classes / events Australia performed the best in at the games. This has been a great project, as it has exposed me to Paralympic sport, and what can be done with numbers, and the wonderful Excel!


A Silver Paralympic medal from the Rio Paralmypic games that I got the pleasure of seeing (and holding!!), won by Sam Von Einem in table tennis, a proud SASI athlete, and overall legend.


Être rassasié(e)

📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

My housemate made me a lovely gratin today and my other one let me eat his cheese, so it’s safe today I have now turned into a large piece of French cheese myself. It’s so nice though! They made me laugh so much when they were making the gratin because never in my life have I heard two 24 year old English guys sit in a kitchen arguing about whether to put cream or eggs in a gratin. I do love France!



📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

I received an email today saying the German textbooks I’d ordered a couple of months ago were damaged in transport and I have to find them somewhere. Endommagé means damaged, but I never knew it had an “en” in front of it before today!


Winter is Coming

📥  Uncategorized

All I can say is why go to Iceland or fantasise about joining the Night's Watch, when you can stay and freeze in England.

The temperature in Bath has dropped significantly, and as someone who cycles to their placement (due to the ever worsening 20A/C bus service), this is not what you want to hear. For the past two weeks I have been cycling to work with a thick woolly hat stuffed under my helmet, gloves and mountain style jackets, not the most attractive look. There were even forecasts that snow might hit Bath last week! (To save you checking, as always, they were wrong).

In the past couple of weeks a lot has happened, and to be honest, going to a far away mystical place with white walkers doesn't seem that much worse than staying in a world where Donald Trump was elected as president.... After all, a really big wall will be in both places!

But it isn't all bad! The work load at my placement has picked up. I have become the Audit Queen for my placement provider, completing three audits from scratch over the past couple of weeks. Audits are a way for companies to assess the performance of an area of service. They always start out with questionnaires sent to staff and then an analysis of the data received. So far, the audits I have completed have ranged from understanding why people most commonly seek psychological help from the Lifetime team to a review of why staff do not use their tablets to record patient notes (with a lot of money having been spent on this it is important to know why they aren't being used).  I have also taken on new audits, looking into how complex the referrals to the Lifetime Service are and about how well the transition from child to adult services is. This is very good practise for my dissertation and future research as I am having to design surveys from scratch and analyse the data.

In addition to this I was also put in charge of designing a database for the Psychology Unit of a Paediatric Diabetes department. I was responsible for designing the best way to present the outcome of quality of life surveys the young people has completed so that one can easily see what has changed, what is significant and make graphs. I did so well at this that the psychologist passed on praise to my supervisor, which made me feel that I am really helping around here. A great confidence boost.

I have also been helping to further the research project. Last week I looked over information sheets I had designed with the lead researcher, although the bulk of the writing remained the same a lot of the information was reworded. Showing just how specific the wording of things needs to be. This is great practice for when I will be let loose into the world to conduct my own research (under close supervision, of course!).

So overall, placement appears to be going well. Things are picking up and I am completing a wide range of tasks.

But, that's not the highlight of my past two weeks, though it is part of them!

Last week was Bonfire Night, which for all those who aren't British is where we celebrate a guy called Guy Fawkes failing to blow up parliament, by blowing up fire works. As I am staying in Bath this year, I was able to see the RAG fireworks with my flatmates. They were spectacular. It was  a really nice weekend. However, our neighbours did not seem to get the memo that it is  Bonfire Night we celebrate (not a Bonfire Fortnight), and so we spent the past two weeks with fireworks going off every night. Even the most passionate pyromaniac can't love the bangs after this long.

I have also started to learn Spanish in preparation for a trip to Peru. It took me three hours to read a newspaper article in Spanish, but hey, I felt so proud afterwards. I truly deserved those chocolate brownies I baked afterwards.