Head of Department for Modern Foreign Languages & Director of Studies – Brigitte Grimshaw
Brigitte read French Literature and Italian at King’s College, London and completed her PGCE at Greenwich University. She has been a French tutor at MPW Cambridge for over 15 years and became the Head of Department for Modern Foreign Languages in 2018 as well as a Director of Studies in 2019. Brigitte also worked at the Open University as a French Tutor for 24 years and before that worked in comprehensive schools for several years as a French Teacher.
Tell us more about your role at MPW?
I am the Head of Department for Modern Foreign Languages, so I have a team of tutors teaching Chinese, Russian, Spanish, German and French. I tutor GCSE and A level French, as well as teaching French as part of the Extra Tuition and Easter Revision courses we offer at MPW Cambridge. I’ll be teaching on the Energise my Learning programme this summer too.
After all these years, I really, really enjoy teaching, I can’t see myself doing anything else.
As a Director of Studies, I have about 20 students who I help with progression from lower to upper sixth and their UCAS applications, I am also a Personal Tutor for Lower sixth students and help them to adjust to their brand new A level courses. I help my tutees with the academic side, but also with their well-being. I see how they are coping, especially for international students in Cambridge for the first time and studying abroad. It’s about building up a relationship with each student and getting to know them really well – I love this side of the job.
Once I find a happy place I stick to it, like a mussel on a rock. Having previously worked in various comprehensive schools having 30 students in a class and several classes, it’s the small class sizes that I like at MPW. We can give lots of attention to each individual, we know each other, they call us by our first names – it’s a lovely community and there’s a lovely atmosphere among the staff.
If you are in a large class, it’s so much more difficult. That’s why MPW students are very lucky because we can adjust to their needs for each particular course according to their strengths and weaknesses. Students can make their studying with us exactly what they want and need to learn. With a small group you have a trust element with each other.
Any tips for future MPW students looking to study French?
Learning a language is really hard work, because you’ve never finished. Launch yourself, don’t be afraid of making mistakes and just go for it. Keep at it: talk, read, listen. You must be really determined, and you’ve got to believe in yourself and your ability to learn a foreign language, plough on through mistakes. Communication of course is key.