PGDE Secondary Education - Modern Languages (Spanish)Sonia Jacas Xufré, Spain

Tell us a bit about your background…
I am from a town located south of Barcelona called Vilanova i la Geltrú, I studied Travel and Tourism Management in Barcelona and once I finished my studies, I decided to come to Scotland to improve my English, the plan was to stay a year but one thing led to another and I have now lived more years in Scotland than Catalonia.

What inspired you to be a teacher?
I had always worked in customer service roles which were linked to my previous studies, I worked as a manager in a restaurant, a hotel, also worked at Glasgow airport and for an incoming tour operator. I did like and enjoy these various jobs but I didn’t feel fulfilled and teaching was always at the back of my mind. Sometimes, on top of my everyday job I would find time to teach Spanish to a small group of friends whenever there was an interest.

Did you have a favourite teacher when you were younger?
When I was a child I attended a religious school and the majority of the teachers were very strict and didn't seem to smile too much but I remember very well a primary teacher who was very sweet and kind, she used to smile all the time and I was very fond of her.

Why did you choose to study PGDE at the University of Strathclyde?
To be honest, I heard great things about the teachers who run the modern languages department; Kandi, Gillian and Alan. I also heard of the great reputation of the university, therefore when I was asked to go for interviews to other universities, once I knew I was accepted for Strathclyde there was no other option for me, my decision was made.

Did you seek any support during the application process? Please tell us about this.
Yes, I did. I wasn’t sure if I had met the entry requirements in order to attend the course and I was given Gillian as a contact, she was very helpful and explained everything I had to do. Further down the line, after I met Kandi for my interview, we kept in touch and she always was available if I ever needed any advice.

What has been the highlight of your time at Strathclyde?
Where to start… It has been one of the best experiences of my life, I will always be grateful for having this opportunity to pursue my new career, having the experience of meeting wonderful teachers and very helpful classmates, and overall having a great experience in both of my placements as well.

Tell us about your experience on placement…
On placement, I have had great experiences, having worked in two different high schools I have witnessed many different teaching methods and different ways of dealing with behavioural issues, also I had the opportunity to make good friends as well. It has been a very constructive experience overall.

What would be your advice for people considering taking the PGDE course at Strathclyde?
Definitely if teaching is what you want to do, go for it, you will have no regrets.

What have been the main challenges at university/in placement, and how have you overcome them?
The main challenges have been finding the time to be able to do all the reading, writing, lesson planning and keeping up with all the paper work required to keep your Professional Practice File up to date. I am a single mum and this has been tough, also because I had to keep a part time job. The way I have overcome these challenges has been to keep calm and being as much organised as I could. Organisation is key.

What do you think of the support available during your course?
From day one we were told how hard the course would be but at the same time we were told about the importance of health and wellbeing, always to be aware of our limits and our tutors would make very clear that help was available if we needed it.

What are your ambitions for the future?
I would like to be the best teacher I can be, to transfer my love for languages to my pupils, inspiring them to broaden their horizons and make them understand the many advantages of being able to speak another language.