7th January 2020

By Melanie Oakes - 2nd Year BA TESOL & Linguistics Student

After having my son this course is the best thing I’ve done, it’s made me feel a lot better about who I am.

I never really had a huge interest in education while I was at school, I missed almost a year due to illness, and even after I returned I struggled to engage with my subjects due to a real lack of confidence. The end result was that I left school with only 3 O Levels.

Despite my family attempting to support me by claiming I was artistic rather than academic I ended up feeling like the one member of my family who wasn’t clever with both my sisters gaining 10 O Levels and going on to careers in Law and Healthcare.

I carried this stigma for years until my son started Primary School and I noticed he was struggling with similar issues to my own. When he was later diagnosed as dyslexic it spurred me on to find out if that could be affecting me too. With the aid of the Nottingham Dyslexia Association I was able to finally obtain some evidence of both my dyslexia and, for the first time, my own intelligence. With their encouragement I began to explore the possibilities of a future at university.

I already had an interest in languages and could speak basic Swedish so I decided to look into TEFL short courses. While undertaking a learning session for one in Lincoln I met a BGU student who praised the university and offered to put me in touch with the course lecturers. The next thing I knew I was being offered a place on the undergraduate course.

I came to an open day for mature students and had a brilliant time, all the lecturers were great and really easy to connect with. They clearly understood that everyone had their own unique motivations for joining higher education and they wanted to help support them.

I felt like a fraud at first due to my age and previous academic struggles, but as I’ve gone through the course my belief and confidence in myself has grown immeasurably.

It’s taken a lot of hard work and meant I’ve had to learn a whole new set of skills, including how to use PowerPoint, but I’ve loved studying historical linguistics and the spread of English globally, they’ve been fascinating subjects that have answered a number of lifelong questions. In fact, I’ve found the whole subject so stimulating, except for referencing!

Even with my Dyslexia, ADD and Fibromyalgia I’ve been able to succeed at BGU and I’m now beginning to explore the potential of a master’s degree.

It’s all been a lot to balance at points, particularly being a single mother, but what I’ve gained from the course both mentally and in terms of my self-esteem has been so worth it.

I would totally encourage anyone who was thinking of going on this course to do it. You won’t regret it. It’s highly interesting, you learn and experience things you never thought you would and it ultimately opens up so many doors to you; for example, I’m now doing 1:1 teaching with a lady from Hong Kong to help improve her English.

You should never think you’re too old to go for something, it can be hard to get to grips with new technology but there are lots of avenues for support including CELT and Student Advice along with many opportunities to broaden your mind.

Give it a go.

If you’re interested in following in Melanie’s footsteps you can find more information on our BA TESOL & Linguistics course by visiting our website, talking to our Enquiries Team or joining us on one of our Open Days.