Alison tells us about her role as Academic English Preparation Programme Coordinator in the Language Centre.  

Tell us about your role at the University.

I am based in the Language Centre and my job combines a variety of roles.  I am the coordinator for the Academic English Programme which is a course that is designed for international students prior to their degree programmes.  I also teach on the MSc TESOL programme and am also currently looking into ways in which the Language Centre can help academic departments with support for international student during their studies.

How do you usually start your day?

With a cup of coffee at home.  How the day starts at work depends on what’s on.  It could be writing course materials, speaking to students and teachers, marking, answering e-mails, meeting with departments.  A regular day, however, will usually see me at my desk with some breakfast getting down to whatever’s top of the list.

What brought you to the University of Aberdeen?

I come from Huntly which is near Aberdeen and after being away from the area for some time, moved back due to family circumstances in 2000.  I was fortunate to be offered a temporary 3-week teaching job at the university and it snowballed from there.  From teaching academic English I progressed into my current roles.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

The variety.  This refers both to the job and to the people.  With regards to the former, it means that I can go from discussions with students and teachers, to teaching, to planning courses, to assessment procedures.  This allows for some diversity in my activities.  Secondly, every semester we welcome students from a range of countries.  Despite meeting hundreds of students over the years, I am constantly learning from their experiences.  Finally, much satisfaction at work can come from who you work with and fortunately, we are a team that work well together.

What are your work priorities at the moment?

We currently have 70 students at the moment so number one on the list is ensuring that we are meeting their needs in order for them to progress on to their degree programmes.  Secondly, led by colleagues, I am working on designing and preparing the summer course.  The summer is the busiest period for us in the Language Centre and we are anticipating a large number of students this year.  In addition, we are aiming to expand university-wide support for international students and academic departments and this is something I am beginning to work on. This will also allow for tracking students after they have completed our academic English courses. 

How do you like to relax outside work?

I am currently studying part time for an EdD in Education so this takes up a lot of spare time.  However, I’ve recently taking up skiff rowing (a small boat with 4 rowers & a cox) on the Moray coast and have had a go at paddle boarding there as well.  If I’m not teaching, most of my week is spent sitting at the computer so I just want to get out into the fresh air.  I try to go to the gym and have a swim once a week but that’s not always successful.