Job as a language lecturer

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Claire Smith is a lecturer in French at the University of Leicester. As well as teaching and looking after the welfare of her degree students, she carries out her own research.

How would you outline your job as a language lecturer?

My time is divided between teaching undergraduate students, doing academic research and generally contributing to the running of the School of Modern Languages. My students are all studying for degrees – on a variety of programmes ranging from French and Spanish, to management and French, and law with French.

What are your main responsibilities?

I teach courses at all levels of the degree programme and am responsible for lecturing, teaching small groups and marking coursework. I also spend time helping students if they have any academic or personal problems. When I'm doing academic research rather than teaching, then this involves a lot of self-motivated study.

What is your main routine?

During term time, which is 30 weeks of the year, I spend a lot of time preparing the teaching classes on a wide range of subject to do with French language, culture, literature and history. I also have various administrative jobs – things like organising taster days for sixth form students, organising a student-staff committee, and liaising with the university library to make sure that we have the books and journals we need. Outside term time, I'm marking coursework, preparing classes for the coming term, or doing academic research with the aim of publishing books and articles.

What's your working environment like?

I have an office in the School of Modern Languages, but my teaching takes place all over the campus. For research, I do get to travel around quite a bit.

How do you use your language skills?

Languages are essential for this work. My teaching and research are grounded in my knowledge of French language and culture. The whole point of the job is to get students to understand and appreciate all aspects of the language and culture.

What hours do you work?

I typically start work at about 9.00am and go home at about 6pm or 6.30pm. I sometimes work in the evenings or at the weekend. We get around four weeks' holiday a year, although this is quite flexible.

Why did you choose this job as a language lecturer?

I enjoyed academic study and wanted to carry on with research after I finished my doctorate. Studying a language and culture other than your own to such a high level not only broadens your knowledge of the world, but can make you much more aware of your own culture, assumptions and prejudices.

What training have you done?

After graduating from university I worked in France before returning to do my doctorate in French Studies. I worked for a year as a part-time associate lecturer for the Open University, before beginning my current full-time job.

What do you like about your job as a language lecturer?

I like the freedom and the variety of different tasks. I like being able to work independently and to organise my own time, whilst also having lots of contact with people.

The teaching can be very rewarding. The students have chosen to come to university, so it is particularly motivating to work with people who are really keen to learn more.

Claire's route to her job as a language lecturer

  • A levels
  • Degree in French Studies and Geography
  • Experience of working in France
  • PhD in French Studies
  • Part-time teaching
  • Conferences and research

Claire's language lecturer tips

  • It is vital you so well while studying as this can influence your future career.
  • Find an area of research that you are really enthusiastic about.
  • Combine doing a doctorate with some undergraduate teaching as this is useful experience when applying for a lecturing job later.

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Salary of a language lecturer

  • Salaries for lecturers start at around £23,643, rising up to £36,500 with experience.
  • Senior lecturers can earn up to £43,638.

How to become a language lecturer

  • To become a higher education lecturer, you normally need a degree plus a postgraduate qualification related to the subject you wish to teach.
  • This is usually a doctorate (or for the applicant to be nearing completion of a doctorate) but those with a Masters degree may be accepted.
  • Lecturers are usually also expected to have a good record of research, and have had some research published.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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