This week we meet Angela Cooper, Teaching Fellow at the UCL Centre for Languages & International Education. Here, Angela - who recently won the Student Choice Award for Excellent Personal Tutoring - chats to us about running an eight-week summer course for students.
What is your role and what does it involve?
I’m a Teaching Fellow at the UCL Centre for Languages & International Education (CLIE), and I teach Academic Reading and Writing to students on the Undergraduate Preparatory Certificate (UPC), UCL’s International Foundation course.
I have about 14 personal tutees over the year who I meet every week to monitor their studies, assist with UCAS applications, give advice on their research projects and life in general in London. At the same time, I am in charge of Thesis Writing Option B, which offers one-hour personal tutorials to help PhD students across all UCL departments with the overall structure, organisation, academic conventions and grammatical accuracy of their theses.
I also organise and teach the eight-week online summer preparation course for potential LNAT (National Admissions Test in Law) students and then teach these students in a UPC class every week in Term 1.
How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?
I joined CLIE in 2005, initially on the pre-sessional course, before moving to the UPC. Prior to 2005, I worked overseas for about 15 years teaching English at universities in China, Turkey and the Gulf countries.
What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
I think my top initiative would have to be setting up and running the summer eight-week online preparation course for the LNAT exam (National Admissions Test in Law) over the past few years. Admission to the Laws faculty is extremely competitive and by the time students arrive in London in October, there is little time to prepare and practise for this very challenging exam. Working over the summer has provided students with a stronger base.
Of course, winning the Student Choice Award for Excellent Personal Tutoring must now be the greatest and most welcome achievement! It is really the ’cherry on the cake’ and a wonderful way to end the academic year.
Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list.
Right now, that is running this summer’s LNAT course which started on 6 July and also mastering the complexities of Microsoft Teams and Blackboard Collaborate! As for the LNAT summer course, the students practice in speed reading (twice or three times per week), essay writing (once per week) and group discussions, as well as taking part in a personal tutorial every week. I’m quite busy doing all of this right now and negotiating time differences and connectivity issues with Vietnam, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia.
What is your favourite album, film and novel?
My favourite album is Inspiration by Sheku Kanneh-Mason. I have many films I really enjoy, but I think Parasite is my current favourite - the last one I saw in a cinema before lockdown! As for a novel, again it is very tough to narrow down, but East West Street by Philippe Sands is a real gem of a story.
What is your favourite joke?
I’m not good at remembering the punch lines but I can remember an old Tommy Cooper gag:
I said to the gym teacher: "Can you teach me to do the splits?"
He replied: "How flexible are you?"
To which I replied "I can’t make Tuesdays".
Who would be your dream dinner guests?
Once again, very difficult to narrow down but I think these would make a good mix: Nadiya Hussain; Sir David Attenborough; Miranda Hart; Hillary Clinton; Barack Obama; Omar Sharif; Clive James; my daughter.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be kind to people and always treat others as you would like to be treated. Don’t ever stop learning and growing as a person.
What would it surprise people to know about you?
I was once Captain of the Ladies Hockey Team at university.
What is your favourite place?
I think the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna would take a lot of beating.