Meet Academic Director Oxford House Barcelona

We recently introduced you to our new Academic Director – Jane in our back to school blog. Now it’s time to get to know her a little better.

She joined the team in September and brings with her a wealth of experience in education, management and languages, making her perfect for the new role.

Academic Director is a new title for us here at Oxford House so we thought we’d give Jane the chance to introduce herself properly and explain a little about her role within the school. We also find out what she likes doing when she’s not at Oxford House, plus her favourite hotspot in Barcelona. There’s even some exciting news about what to expect this academic year!

So without any further delay, let’s give a very warm welcome to Jane…

You have lots of experience in education, can you tell us a little about what you were doing before you came to work at Oxford House?

I’ve done lots of things really, I’ve worked in international education and in EFL (English as a foreign language) for many, many years, more than I care to remember! I taught for a long time – for twelve years. I’ve worked as Director of Studies in a very large school and in a very small school. I’ve also been a School Principal in two different schools. Now I’m excited to be the new Academic Director at Oxford House!

You’ve lived in lots of different places! How long have you been in Barcelona? Where else have you lived and do you have a favourite?

I’ve lived in Barcelona for about seventeen years altogether. I lived in China for a while, I was there for about eighteen months and I also lived in Poland for two years and they were both fantastic experiences, absolutely loved them.

I think it’s very difficult to talk about having a favourite place because everywhere has something that’s wonderful about it. Obviously, I love Barcelona because I’m still here but I love Poland and China too, and I have to say that Chinese food is out of this world, the best bar none for me.

What attracted you to working at Oxford House?

Well, Oxford House is very well established. I’d heard of it a long time ago, and it’s a big school as well, which is always interesting. Basically, it had a good reputation and the Academic Director opportunity sounded really interesting so that was why I went for it.

Academic Director is a new job title at OH. Can you tell us what your job entails and how is it different from a Director of Studies?

Yes, Academic Director is a new job title, so it represents a kind of restructuring within the school up to a point. There are certain similarities with being a Director of Studies because I am still overseeing academic quality, which is vital for us, but it’s a slightly broader role. I’m looking after all languages, so it’s bringing things together  under one umbrella. And it’s looking both at the academic side, the student experience and also at the business side, so it ties lots of things I’ve been doing in the past together.

How do you think you can help students at Oxford House?

I hope with all the experience I’ve had, that puts me in a good position to give support to students where needed. I want to be available for students so if you want to come and have a chat then you’re very welcome and you can always make an appointment at reception.

What are you looking forward to this year? Any exciting plans for Oxford House?

Well, one thing we are really looking forward to is the InnovateELT conference which takes place in May. It’s going to be focusing on green schools and green technology – and other related themes. It’ll be really interesting and really useful as well, looking ahead to the future, so that’s exciting.

What do you like doing when you aren’t at work?

I love food – I love cooking it, eating it, talking about it doing pretty much anything with it. I’m also really interested in photography, I love walks in the countryside, the sea, the sun, the beach, travelling, socialising, lots of things really. And I love reading, I have a passion for reading, and I love animals too.

Any favourite hot spots in Barcelona?

I’m probably quite out of touch with Barcelona to be honest because I don’t actually live in the city now, I live on the coast. One of my favourite places in Barcelona though has always been the patio in the Escola Massana which I’ve always found is a peaceful spot, and it hadn’t, at least a few years ago, been discovered by the masses. It’s a peaceful place where you can sit down and read a book, maybe have a drink or something.

Do you have any advice for students learning English?

I think the main thing I would say to students learning English is practise as much as you can, and don’t be scared. It’s really easy to think that people are going to be laughing at you but they’re not.

Another important thing is to think about what you want to do. Whatever you’re interested in, you can do it in English as well. So if you’re interested in reading, okay well, read books in English, if you’re interested in football, well, look up sports papers.

You’ve got so many things on the internet right at your fingertips. There are all sorts of things that you can do, and as I say, above all – practise, practise, practise. That’s the way you progress.

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Thank you very much to Jane for the chat – it’s great to have you on board and we look forward to getting to know you more over the next few months.

If you’d like to find out about other changes this year, take a look at our Back to School News for more updates about Oxford House.

Glossary for Language Learners

Find the following words in the article and then write down any new ones you didn’t know.

a wealth (n): a large amount of something good

hot spot (n): a popular place in a city.

bar none (exp): to emphasise something is the best, with no exceptions.

to go for something (v):to attempt something

under one umbrella (exp): to be part of the same category.

to tie (v): to bring together

out of touch (exp): to not be informed about new things

at your fingertips (exp) : easy access to information.

to have someone on board (exp):to have someone as part of a team .

Key

n = noun

v = verb

exp = expression