HND BilSec(Cowcaddens) MA(Hons)(Aberdeen) PGCE(Northern College)
She joined the School in 2005 as a German teacher in the Prep School and then moved into teaching German and French in the Senior School.
Born in Germany to Scottish and German parents, Elisabeth attended a French school in Germany, up until her final year when she moved to Scotland. After completing school and studying at university, she worked as a teacher in Aberdeen, Scotland.
When Elisabeth moved to Australia nine years ago, she worked as a relief German and French teacher throughout Perth, during which time she was also bringing up her three children, two of whom attend Christ Church in Years 8 and 11.
Christ Church is one of only a few schools in Perth to offer four languages – French, German, Japanese and Chinese. As Head of Languages, Elisabeth looks after the promotion and running of the languages courses, as well as the coordination of six permanent staff and up to four language assistants at any one time. As the only upper school French teacher, Elisabeth teaches French to boys in Years 9 to 12. She said she couldn’t ask for a better bunch of boys.
Elisabeth co-ordinates participation in external competitions, in which Christ Church is traditionally extremely successful. “These competitions are important because they establish our position as the top boys’ school in terms of language teaching in Perth,” Elisabeth said. “The competitions also promote the importance of languages in the 21st century.”
At Christ Church, boys start languages in Year 5 and for two years they study European and Asian studies, giving them a taste of all four languages. Then in Year 7 they choose which language they want to study until the end of Year 8. It is not compulsory for students to study a language beyond Year 8, but it is certainly encouraged and Elisabeth said numbers were increasing.
Universities are now offering bonuses for students who study a language up to the end of Year 12, which Elisabeth said could partly account for the increase in students studying a language. “But the increase is also about us being pro-active in our promotion of the importance of languages,” Elisabeth said. “Parents are becoming more aware of the importance of their child having as many skills as possible.
“As English speakers living on an island, we can’t expect the world to come to us. We have to go out into the world, and to find opportunities we must have a language other than English,” Elisabeth explained. “Really, it doesn’t matter what language. It’s more about the skills that are learnt, such as improved study skills, improved English skills and improved cognitive skills.”
Elisabeth said she loved teaching boys. “I like that they are straight forward, they don’t hold grudges and they accept that there are good and bad days.” She said she also loved being a part of the Christ Church community. “There’s a great atmosphere in the School. It’s like a second family, especially for me because I am so far away from my family. Christ Church is a very caring and compassionate place. And I also love teaching at a school where my sons attend.”
And in terms of teaching languages, Elisabeth said she loved the fact that she could teach something to a boy that they had never done before. “Over time when they start to speak the language they get a great sense of satisfaction, and they get a huge sense of achievement out of that, and so do I.”
Elisabeth believes languages are a ticket to the world. “If I didn’t have my languages I wouldn’t have had the experiences and opportunities I’ve had during my life.”