Jennifer is now a bilingual producer at the BBC World Service
"I went on my year abroad in 2002/2003 and had a post as a Language Assistant in Paris. I was lucky enough to have my post in primary schools, and my working week was spread amongst four different schools in the 10e arrondissement.
I was responsible for lesson planning, inventing topics, games, singing and all sorts of other creative ideas to help engage the children in learning English. My classes roughly had around thirty children in each, and as my area was described as ‘bourgeois/bohemian,’ there was an interesting demographic spread of wealth and education.
My placement as a Language Assistant was one of the most valuable things that I have done in my life so far. It taught me about life as a working adult, it taught me how to engage with different people, I grew in confidence and had such fun along the way. It almost seems like an aside that my language skills grew exponentially, particularly working with such young children who saw me as a figure of authority.
I got a job working with the BBC as soon as I graduated, and am still working there. During my time at the BBC I have worked in a number of different roles, from producing radio and TV content to presenting my own radio shows, and I am in no doubt that the confidence gleaned on my year abroad as a language assistant helped me in the workplace. Upon writing this article, I have just been successful in a job interview for my dream job; as a bilingual producer at the BBC World Service.
I am not from a wealthy background, and having the Assistantship Programme available to me made such a difference to my degree and my life that followed. There can be no substitute for the life-enriching skills that one learns whilst doing this type of work, and the experience for me was entirely positive. I would implore students to undertake a placement like this."
In partnership with the British Academy and University Council of Modern Languages (UCML) we gathered short reports from graduates on the importance that the year abroad has had for them, in terms of their skill set, their careers and their lives. These reports formed the basis of the Position Statement: Valuing the Year Abroad. Browse the reports below for inspiration, and select a tag within a report to read more on that theme.