Third year French and Spanish student Amy Shimmin is currently interning on-campus with the English for Academic Study department.
Since May, I’ve been one of nine Social Programme Interns for the University’s English for Academic Study department. Along with permanent staff, we run the social programme for students, giving them the opportunity to learn about local culture and practise their English skills. Around 800 students undertake pre-sessional English courses to meet requirements for academic programmes, which most students continue to the next academic year. Summer is the busiest time of year, and each week of the internship has been different. Here’s an insight to one week:
Monday – Induction day
It’s the last intake of the year, and we have a beautiful day for it! There are multiple events throughout the day to make arrival as smooth as possible – registering at university, delivering campus tours, and advising to other services when necessary. Responsibilities are split through the intern team: my tasks included guiding students across campus, making sure students were in the right place, some admin tasks, and taking campus tours. It can be a daunting day, with lots of information to take in. At least the weather was nice, for once…
Tuesday and Thursday – Chat club
Each lunchtime we run an informal English chat club – this allows students the chance to meet classmates, practise speaking English, and to learn about others’ backgrounds and cultures. This week I worked Tuesday and Thursday, which were busier than usual – probably due to the new intake of students. Three or four interns run chat club each day, and we make tea and coffee, facilitate chat between students, and make the environment friendly and welcoming.
Thursday – Film night
We often have some evening events, and this week we had two (more on the second in a moment.) Film night was an idea I suggested, and for this event, I was the ‘trip leader’. This means I had a little bit more responsibility for the event. Luckily, this was a fairly smooth-running evening – students arrived, we watched The King’s Speech together, and then went home. I’ll later write a report detailing the event, and any suggestions for the future.
Friday – Pot luck
To celebrate the end of the first week, we met at Murano Street Village for a ‘pot luck’ dinner. If you’ve not heard of this before, it’s basically a dinner where each person brings a dish, and then everybody shares the food! I made a dish from my hometown, and we ended up with a wide range of dishes – Chinese meat, Italian pastries, and of course, haggis. The main responsibilities here were to make sure the event ran well, that students were engaged, and to eat food. Not a bad night at the office…
Saturday – Linlithgow Palace and the Kelpies
Each Saturday, the programme co-ordinates at least one trip to a site of cultural relevance. This week students could choose between Loch Lomond or Linlithgow Palace. As staff, we attend each trip to ensure the itinerary runs as planned, to coordinate the transport and any booked events during the trip, and to deal with any problems should they arise. We arrived at Linlithgow Palace for a tour of the site, where students learned a little about Scottish history, too. There was time after to explore the town – we even saw a wedding! – and then we headed to the Kelpies on the way back home. While the trips are a great chance to unwind after an intense week in class, they also encourage the students to use their English skills further, to learn about local culture and history, and to explore the country.
My internship only lasts four more weeks, which is the only downside! It’s definitely been a highlight of my summer, as it’s been a great way to earn money, develop new and old skills, and visit some wonderful places. It’d be easy to say the best part is the tea and biscuits, but it’s great to see the students develop their confidence and skills throughout the programme. It’s been a valuable insight into the ‘behind the scenes’ in a busy university department, as well as events planning and organisation, and teaching English as a second language.
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