“Knowledge of languages is the doorway to wisdom”

The TSST in action!

This will be my third year running the Agnus Dei Teaching School Alliance TSST (teacher subject specialism training). It’s a course I am passionate about as I’ve seen the hugely positive benefits to those returning to teaching after a few years out of the classroom, or who want to learn new skills in MFL.

I’m aware many people have still not heard of TSST courses, but they are a way of getting really high quality FREE CPD training – our feedback has been really positive:

  • It has reminded me I am a linguist and I have a set of skills I haven’t been using for a very long time and convinced me that what I really want to do from now on is teaching in secondary.
  • It has enabled me to be more confident in teaching Spanish as well as my current language, French.
  • I enjoyed the professionalism in the training and organisation of the course. I felt the course was extremely organised well addressing the individual needs of the group (which is not an easy task given the wide variety of teachers/levels/training needs. Thanks again!
  • Apart from giving me the chance to practice and learn the TL, I really enjoyed all the pedagogy and games I learnt.
  • The course has given me lots of useful ideas for lesson starters, reading and listening activities, also how to teach grammar and new vocab.
  • The guest speakers, language assistants and teachers who came to help us added variety to the course and I felt that we learnt a lot through the input of all these different people, as well as from the excellent course leaders.

Sadly we are unable to offer to every MFL teacher, but the criteria is broad enough to cover most. Currently, the Alliance can offer the training to:

  • non-specialist teachers who could potentially teach MFL in addition to, or as their main subject
  • non-specialist teachers who are currently teaching MFL 
  • teachers who are looking to return to the profession
  • specialist MFL teachers who are not currently teaching MFL and who need refresher training to enable a move back to a MFL role
  • specialist MFL teachers who have the capacity to teach a second language in addition to their language specialism
  • overseas trained teachers who are resident and eligible to work in England

Over the past 2 years we have had representatives from all the above categories and the eclectic mix of teachers has been one of the many highlights of the course. We have been privileged to see teachers moving back into teaching with confidence and enthusiasm –  French/German specialists teaching Spanish with renewed vigour or for the first time (and vice versa), primary teachers moving into secondary and all participants, regardless of experience, implementing new strategies and ideas into their classroom practice. 

The course focuses on both pedagogy and developing linguistic skills. Teachers become students and, in doing so, start empathising a lot more with their own students back in school! Several teachers felt that they had become better teachers in their first language as a consequence of having to learn or re-learn a second or third one! In all sessions we have very sympathetic native speakers who provide the opportunity for participants  to try out new skills in a supportive environment. As language teachers know, language learning needs to be regular and consistent so we also offer a Rosetta Stone Licence to give everyone the chance to maintain and improve linguistic skills throughout the year. 

The focus on pedagogy has benefited both existing teachers and those returning to teachers or moving from primary. Actually doing the activities yourself in your second language helped teachers to see the impact a strategy or idea can have, whether that be walking around the classroom discussing, in the target language of course, paintings by Klee, Matisse or Dali, playing pictionary, brainstorming, devising simple poems or just innovative ideas to access texts or encourage accuracy in writing. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed delivering the past two TSST courses with my team and I am excited about this coming year. As a language teacher, it is always a delight to be in a room full of passionate linguists because as we all know A different language is a different vision of life.”(Federico Fellini)  and “Knowledge of languages is the doorway to wisdom” (Roger Bacon). I could go on …..

Susan Prichard is a Lead Practitioner and SLE, as well as former Head of MFL and expert German teacher. She has inspired many students and teachers over the years offering support, insight and wisdom. Read her full SLE profile here .