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Victoria Bentata

MA, PGCE

Subject: French and Spanish

Welcome to Wolsey Hall! I look forward to helping you learn French and/or Spanish.

When I was 8 years old. I started learning French at school, and I’ve loved it ever since. Being very keen on guinea pigs, I was particularly fascinated to discover that in French these were ‘cochons d’lnde’ – Indian pigs – so called because Christopher Columbus thought he had arrived in India when he reached South America. For French people, they were not ‘guinea’ pigs at all.

As I made progress, it was great fun to find I could understand another language. I enjoyed reading comic books in French, watching French films, going into shops in France and talking to people – and impressing my parents and friends! I was excited by the idea that speaking someone
else’s language helps you to understand how they think as well as what they say. So I took up German and Russian as well.

After school, I went to Oxford University to study Modern Languages. I studied German and Russian and spent time living in Russia. Then I worked with several publishing companies and travelled around Eastern Europe selling books to bookshops and distributors and learning a few words of languages like Bulgarian, Polish, Serbo-Croat and Hungarian.

Travelling was fun, but I wanted to stay in one place for a while. I had already spent several years teaching Hebrew at a Sunday school and I knew I loved teaching, so I did a PGCE qualification (Primary with French specialism) and taught in two schools before deciding to become a French and Spanish tutor.

I then gained a degree (first class) in French and Spanish with the Open University, which made me realise how great distance learning is, because it means you can work at your own pace. I also passed a Chartered Institute of Linguists Diploma in French Translation and the Institute of Tourist Guiding’s French guiding exam. Now I give guided tours of Oxford in French to French school groups and teach French and Spanish to English children aged 9-18.

Languages are central to my work but also my greatest hobby – I regularly listen to the news in different languages and I am constantly learning new things. Unfortunately. I can’t yet understand what our guinea pig is saying, though I am still trying!

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