Modern Languages graduate profile: Sophie Murray

Sophie Murray BA (2016, French) crossed the Pennines to come to Liverpool and is another of our very recent graduates to take up employment in France. As a Single Honours French student, Sophie was able to take a wide range of different modules in the department, and enjoyed the literature and cultural topics in particular.

Sophie is one of the Department’s students who spent her year abroad working on an independent work placement. She was an intern in a real estate agency in Nice, and made such an impression on her employers that, at the end of her placement, the company offered her a post on graduation. The internship during the year abroad was devoted to sales training and building up her experience. In her spare time she travelled around the region, completely falling in love with Nice and the Côte d’Azur.

Liverpool for me was an amazing experience. The city is so full of life and culture – and proper nice restaurants – and I met some incredible people.

Back in Nice, Sophie’s job is, in her words, exciting, stressful and rewarding. She is an independent agent so there is a lot of pressure on a daily basis, but she finds it fulfilling to be able to find people their dream property. She meets a wide range of people, and she especially enjoys having British clients and being able to help them through the complicated French system.

In terms of using the skills she acquired in Liverpool, Sophie spends a lot of her working day on the telephone, making enquiries and negotiating between buyers and sellers. On some days, she visits properties, either with clients or to establish sales contracts. This includes photographing properties and preparing advertising texts. Sophie is increasingly becoming an expert in French administrative processes and procedures – but the perfect tonic is the ability to head to the beach and enjoy the Mediterranean.


Introducing… Federica Sturani


French and German are not the only two language sections to see the arrival of new members of staff this academic year. Today, we welcome Federica Sturani, who has returned to the University of Liverpool to teach Italian.

I am delighted to rejoin MLC, and to become part of such a dynamic team in Italian, which was awarded a 100% student satisfaction rate in the most recent NSS. I hope that my contribution to the team will help to maintain such a high standard!


Federica’s new publication, Italian Tutor: Grammar and Vocabulary Workbook

I am returning to the University of Liverpool after 3 years, during which I have been involved in different projects, including a collaboration with local primary and secondary schools on the teaching of Italian, and a new Italian workbook, published by Hodder & Stoughton and entitled Italian Tutor: Grammar and Vocabulary Workbook. The text was published in April 2016 and is a grammar workbook aimed at post-beginners and intermediate learners. The main idea behind the project was to fill a gap in current learning resources for intermediate students of Italian, a stage in language acquisition that is particularly difficult to target. This explains the relative paucity of textbooks building up on basic competencies, and I hope that Italian Tutor will be welcomed by all teachers as a stepping stone towards mastering Italian.


Benvenuto Federica!

I love teaching Italian, and this will be my main contribution to the team this year. However, I will also be involved in a number of events and projects aimed at providing extra-curricular opportunities for students of Italian. Language acquisition is central to what we do in the Department, but fluency in languages other than English allows our students to access culturally fascinating worlds which add novel perspectives on the human experience. I believe that a passion for other languages and cultures should be fostered early on in life and cultivated over the years, and so I am keen to use my experience to support activities such as liaising with schools and other outreach events.

Buon anno accademico a tutti!

Year Abroad experiences: Liam Beddall in Fécamp, France

The new academic year sees many of our students begin their Year Abroad. Today, we catch up with Liam Beddall, a student of Modern European Languages, who is splitting his Year Abroad between France and Germany.


The English Centre des Hautes Falaises – The Beatles are everywhere!

Whether you’re a prospective or current student of modern languages, the Year Abroad stands out as one of the most exciting aspects of your degree. A new country, culture, social life and working environment all piece together to immerse you into ‘the great unknown’. As part of my Year Abroad, I have moved to the coastal town of Fécamp, in France, where I am working at The English Centre des Hautes Falaises, which offers English language tuition for children and adults. I will be spending six months here, before moving to Göttingen, Germany in April 2017 to complete a university placement.


Fécamp town centre

Having been in Fécamp for just over a week, I have already had the opportunity to partake in a variety of activities that have put my language skills to the test. Working at The English Centre has thus far been a fantastic experience (and one I would wholeheartedly recommend for next year’s students). The family-like camaraderie that the centre promotes makes the work here extremely gratifying. On the first day, I felt like I had been thrown in at the deep end, but I have had the opportunity to work with children and adults with varying levels of English, all of whom have been very welcoming and willing to learn. Every day has been different and offered new challenges, both in the classroom and in the administration of the centre. I am having to use a plethora of skills, which I know will prove extremely valuable to prospective employers.

In my short time here so far, I have learnt that if there is a question, the answer is normally ‘yes’. Try the foods you don’t like, go to the places you wouldn’t normally go to and do the things you wouldn’t normally do – it’s all part of the experience.

Aside from working at the centre, I’ve been extremely lucky to be living with a very friendly French family of six. Not only has this helped improve my language skills immensely already, but it has also opened my eyes to new cultural experiences. I have been lucky enough to dine with people from different cultures, go on a guided tour of local stained glass windows, explore an abandoned WWII German hospital, sit in on a viva for a PhD on Astrophysics, and even meet the Mayoress of Fécamp!

Q+A: Veronika Koeper-Saul and Anke Bohm discuss European University Tandem project

From 8–10 September 2016, German language lecturers Veronika Koeper-Saul and Anke Bohm attended a meeting of the European University Tandem (EuniTa) Erasmus+ project in Florence. In this short Q+A, they tell us a bit about the project and the outcomes of the meeting.

So, what is EuniTa?

Basically, EuniTa is like our ‘Conversation Exchange’, where language learners are matched up with native speakers of the language they are learning so that each can learn from each other. This Erasmus+ project uses the concept to create an electronic exchange platform geared at university  students.

Who is creating this platform?

It’s a co-operation between seven European universities: the University of Liverpool, the University of Exeter, the Université de Poitiers, the Université Paris Sorbonne, the Universitat Blaquerna Ramon Lull Barcelona, the Università degli Studi Firenze, and the Goethe University Frankfurt.

How will the platform work?

Visually, imagine a cross between Facebook and Skype, with a timeline, video and messaging facilities, and the added bonus of language learning materials, support and even certification. To start an exchange, we’ll have an automatic matching system based on self-declared student details such as native and target languages and preferences such as whether the age or university subject is important to you.

What are your specific contributions to the project so far?

We have already created graded conversation guides on the topics of ‘Health and Sports’ and ‘Daily Life’, which will be uploaded to the platform. The language levels are labelled according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (A1 to C2), so if you are really into these topics you can have more and more advanced conversations about topics from the same categories and clearly see your progress. There will be lots of other topics, too, of course, created by our partners and sifted by ourselves.

What are the next steps?

Following discussions in Florence, we will now format our materials to a common design, add media such as pictures and videos, and prepare further specialist conversation guides for students of science and health subjects. The idea here is to help students of medicine or life sciences, for example, prepare for the kind of speaking required on a study abroad period or even give papers at conferences. Very soon we will also select some Liverpool students to test the platform and then help remedy any problems that might crop up.



Introducing… Melanie Staudinger



Having introduced our new French Language Assistants, Maxime and Estelle, earlier this week, today we meet Melanie Staudinger, who will be working with students of German in all years to improve their language and communciation skills.


Willkommen Melanie!

To introduce myself, I am 22 years old and grew up in the Salzkammergut area of Austria, which is famous for its 76 lakes. I studied in Vienna and graduated in June this year from the University College of Teacher Education, reading English, Geography and Economics. As English is my main subject, I chose to come and work in the UK for a while before I go back to Austria to teach at secondary level. I have never been to Liverpool before, but I am already starting to love this port city. I grew up close to Lake Attersee, so I’m pleased to be living close to the sea now. I look forward to getting to know the people of Liverpool and the city of The Beatles. I have a real love of music and I would like to give my students an insight into the contemporary music scene in Austria. There are some really popular bands and musicians at the moment, such as the DJ Parov Stelar, the singer Andreas Gabalier and groups like Bilderbuch and Wanda, who have all become famous in the German-speaking world and have enlivened the Austrian music scene.

In my view, the best way to learn a foreign language is by hearing it and using it as much as possible. I always use the chance to speak English when I’m in the company of English native speakers, and so I will be encouraging my students to take the opportunity to come by my office and chat with me when I’m there. I’m also looking forward to introducing them to the Austrian dialect!


Lake Attersee

Modern Languages graduate profile: Kirsty Hart



As the new term kicks into gear, we learn more about what our graduates are up to these days. Today, we catch up with Kirsty Hart, who graduated with a first-class degree in German and Hispanic Studies in June 2016.

Today, I find myself in my fourth month working as an Anti-Trafficking Outreach Case Worker at an organisation called City Hearts. This job may not be what people expect you to go into after a languages degree, but I was simply pursuing my passions and what interested me.

My job role is to support victims of human trafficking adapt to life in the UK, by means of connecting them to local health services, legal representation, local communities and colleges. This reduces their vulnerability and also the risk of them being re-trafficked. I believe that my degree in German and Hispanic studies taught me many invaluable skills, such as organization, time management, independence and cultural awareness and sensitivity, which I am certainly utilizing on a day-to-day basis.

As well as these skills, I believe that my year abroad played a vital role in preparing me for my current job. When planning my year abroad, I was very grateful for the freedom to pursue work placements in any which field, as long as we were practising the target language.


So, for the first half of the year, I went to Nicaragua and volunteered in a residency for teenage mothers in recovery from human trafficking. Following that, I interned with Mission Freedom in Germany, which consisted of working in a safe house for victims of human trafficking. Not only did these placements allow me to build my CV and develop in-depth knowledge of the field in which I work now, but living abroad also opened my eyes to new experiences.

I think one of the biggest frustrations when living abroad was negotiating with local authorities and services. As a foreigner, I found myself becoming easily confused and often doubting myself when trying to navigate the foreign systems- especially in a different language. This is something that I recognise in my clients as well. They will often come to dead ends when liaising with authorities, as, like I was on my year abroad, they find themselves lost in translation and doubting themselves.

I am not at all able to relate to my clients and the horrific suffering that they have endured: however, I do believe that my year abroad does allow me to understand the cultural challenges that they face on a daily basis. As a result, this has ignited a passion in me for helping these women to navigate the British systems, and encouraging them to believe that they are fully capable of building a successful, independent life in the UK.

Introducing… Maxime Malet & Estelle Jardon


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The new academic year brings with it the arrival of new academic staff across the department, and today we meet Maxime Malet and Estelle Jardon, who have come to Modern Languages and Cultures to work as lecteurs for this academic session. Maxime and Estelle are working with students in all years to improve different aspects of their spoken French, and here they tell us a little about themselves.


Bienvenue to Maxime and Estelle!


I have two degrees; a licence in English literature and civilization, and a degree in art. During my year in Liverpool, I want to explore the Walker Art Gallery and Tate Liverpool, as well as get to know more about British culture, and use this combined knowledge of art and British culture when I return to France. I see this year in Liverpool as an essential experience, since I have always wanted to teach in a university, and I eventually plan to take a PhD on Victorian pre-Raphaelite paintings and illustrations and their relationship with literature.

Even though my two favourite painters are the French classical artist Jean-Honoré Fragonard and the contemporary Japanese watercolourist Yoshitaka Amano, I am particularly interested in Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and Ford Madox Brown, whose work is exhibited in Liverpool. More than the pictorial quality of these pieces, my interest in these works lies in the multifaceted meanings and criticisms that they put forward. I look forward to exploring these in more detail during my year in Liverpool.

We’re looking forward to making the most of our year in Liverpool, not only to have this teaching experience but also to meet the students and get to know something of the city.


Having recently graduated with a BA in English from the Université de Lorraine (Nancy) in 2016, I am now pursuing my studies with an MA in Anglophone Studies alongside my work at the University of Liverpool. I have always been a passionate reader of detective novels and my research interests lie mainly in crime fiction. I am particularly interested in American hard-boiled detective novels and in the works of the author James Ellroy, who I had the pleasure to meet at the Nancy Literary Festival last September. I would like to devote my MA dissertation to a comparative study of the writing processes involved in different examples of crime fiction. I am looking forward to exploring the many resources in the Sydney Jones Library, which I am sure will quickly become my second home!

My enthusiasm for intercultural exchange naturally prompted me to apply for the position of lectrice in French in the department of Modern Languages & Cultures. Undertaking a year abroad in Liverpool is also a great opportunity for me to enhance my English and to get to know more about British culture. Even though Scouse is not always easy to understand, I am getting used to it and I have only met very friendly people here so far.

Modern Languages graduate profile: Becca Beynon



Becca Beynon BA (2016, French) came up to Liverpool from south Buckinghamshire and, within days of graduation, began work in Paris, the third job she has had in France since she started her degree. As a single honours French student, Becca sampled the wide range of modules available in French, and particularly enjoyed sociolinguistics in her final year. She was also a stalwart of Café français, the informal discussion group convened by the French section’s lecteurs.

Becca spent her year abroad in Toulouse as an English-language assistant, and in order to prepare for the transition from studying in Merseyside to working in France, Becca spent the summer at the end of her second year working as a sales assistant at Disneyland Paris. During the year in Toulouse, Becca realised that she did not want to become a teacher on graduation, but at the same time she particularly appreciated the opportunity to learn new professional skills as well as improve her spoken French.

I loved my time at the University of Liverpool because of its great atmosphere and learning environment. Despite living in Paris, I miss it a lot!

Becca now works for the reinsurance company SCOR, based in their offices in central Paris. Currently, she works in the marketing and services division, specializing in events. This means daily contact with SCOR’s international offices in Asia, Africa and the Americas, working on forthcoming publications and events. Drawing on skills acquired during final-year language classes, Becca edits and writes reports in English for the company, as well as proof-reading publications and organizing events.