This month our Academic Director, Angela Signorastri, discuss with us her time at Hampstead School of English.
Have you ever lived abroad? How was your experience?
I went to live in Italy in 1989 to study at the University of Turin. I was supposed to come back after eight months but I was clearly having too good a time as I didn’t come back to London until 1999, exactly ten years later. During that time, I travelled extensively within Italy and was based in Turin in the north. I also spent over a year in Switzerland and some shorter periods in Germany and Austria.
Those ten years were a very exciting time for me, setting up my own business, learning how to teach English in many different contexts but also realising my dream of working as a professional singer.
How long have you been working for Experience English?
I celebrated the millennium by joining The Hampstead School of English in January 2000. I was told at the time there were no permanent positions available but they haven’t got rid of me yet! I started out as a teacher, of course, and having completed my DELTA, joined the management team in 2003. I think at the time I said I would only do this for three months as I could not imagine not being a teacher. Needless to say, I went on to become Director of Studies in 2006 and held this position for a few years until becoming Academic Director of the Experience English group last year.
Can you tell us a bit about your position?
As the academic lead for the Experience English Schools, it is my job to promote the highest level of continuous professional development for all members of academic staff to ensure they are up-to-date with the standards of the industry as well as develop new projects such as the delivery of new exams and courses. We live in exciting times particularly from an educational point of view and the technology available to us now means that opportunities for learning are without limits. My aim is to continue our mission towards the highest levels of excellence and put Experience English schools on the map as the best places in the world to learn and experience the English language.
What do you like most about your job?
The role of Academic Director at Experience English can be very exciting as I get to work with teachers and managers from all over the UK. What I love most about my job is keeping abreast with all the latest developments in language learning and applying these to our schools.
Tell us something that makes your job worthwhile.
I like to think I can use my experience to push the limits of language learning wherever I go. I’ve recently become an EAQUALS inspector which means I have the opportunity to visit schools all over the world and observe the quality of teaching in different contexts. Most of all, it’s wonderful to see our students develop their language skills, watch and hear them enjoying the language, making new friends and having a very special time in their lives.
Why do you think students should come to study English in the UK?
The UK has a wide variety of experiences to offer, well beyond the usual references to Shakespeare and the Beatles. It is the perfect combination of being the birthplace of the English language as well as offering a rich mix of history, culture, global influences as well as educational establishments with a worldwide reputation for academic excellence.
What’s your top tip for English learners?
Sometimes learning a language is a little bit like acting. It helps to imagine being typically English and getting into the role. I used to ask my students to really exaggerate what they imagined an English accent to be like and they would magically sound so much more natural. This will also sound a bit crazy but it also helps to try making sounds in your head before you actually do it physically.