Ryan Mallett is a Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) teacher at Ormiston Academies Trust. This is his Teacher Effect story.
The main thing about being a teacher is you have to like people because teaching is a team sport. You have to enjoy being around other people because you’re all working together for the same goal.
A pupil joined us from another school where she hadn’t studied Spanish but as she had always enjoyed languages I knew she had great potential. I started providing her with extra revision classes to really close the gaps in her knowledge as well as getting her involved in the school’s revision residentials and international trips.
I always knew she was going to be successful with languages and I’m glad I was there to be able to help and push her to achieve this. She now wants to live in Hong Kong and be a translator or interpreter in the future, so it was just amazing to see. And to top it all she has just won Outstanding Linguist of The Year, which is amazing!
It’s important to remember that not every lesson has to be the same structure either. I arranged for a spy to come in from Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). She did a speech about her career and where having language skills has taken her. After our pupils heard that, you could see they were thinking ‘Oh, actually, this might be a career option for me.’ This has really helped my pupils to see the language in its real context which has in turn helped to engage them in my classes,
It is moments like these that make me think ‘Oh, okay, I know what I’m doing – I’ve done this right.’ It’s great to see my pupils recognising the potential that languages can offer them.
Teaching is a difficult job but at the same time, when you see a pupil you’ve inspired do an extra translation at home, look something up, or when you see a pupil’s eyes light up when you take them on a plane for the first time, when it takes off and they’ve never been that fast before. Those moments when you get to experience something with a pupil for the first time and think ‘I am making a difference’. That’s a massively inspiring thing.
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