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Overseas perk to lure linguists

Universities propose scheme to make teaching more attractive to language graduates. Karen Thornton reports

ALANA Jackson has yet to decide whether to follow her mother and grandmother into teaching.

But with modern languages in schools suffering a dearth of good teachers, the 20-year-old is the sort of person the Government is keen to woo.

Miss Jackson, a Spanish and psychology student, has already been on school placements, courtesy of the Government's undergraduate credits scheme which pays students to try out teaching.

And in September, the Lancaster University student is off to Tenerife to spend a year working in a Santa Cruz school.

If Miss Jackson decides to join the profession after completing her degree, she may be able to cash in the credits earned for completing placements and assignments against future teacher training.

But her university wants to do more by accrediting language students'

teaching experiences abroad, allowing graduates to complete postgraduate teacher training in a term or two, or study for a master's degree.

Lancaster, together with St Martin's College, Lancaster, and Cambridge University, believes such a scheme could make teaching more attractive to language graduates.

The universities say they could have a pilot scheme running in France from September for as little as pound;50,000 and have been in talks with the French government and the British Council.

They are waiting for approval from the Department for Education and Skills and the Teacher Training Agency.

Reports published earlier this year (TES, March 7 and February 28) warned of shortages of modern languages teachers with fewer students studying French, German and Spanish at university.

One report, commissioned by the Nuffield Foundation, urged universities to develop "specialist language courses with a stronger orientation towards a future teaching career".

Miss Jackson is in favour of getting her overseas teaching experiences accredited, just in case her "fall back" career choice of teaching becomes her first.

"I'm interested in teaching - my mum and nan are teachers. Being abroad adds to the experience of teaching," she said.

"But teaching is not well-paid enough to choose as my first job. I'd like to do something with a bit more money - maybe translating for the European Union or the Civil Service, or maybe something using the psychology part of my degree."

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