This podcast comes in both French and Spanish versions. It features stories told in both languages which aim to help learners. The real life stories use simple words and are told by native speakers. They’re billed not as language lessons, but as life lessons told through language. podcast.duolingo.com
Coffee Break Languages
Not sure whether you’ve got time to learn a new language? This podcast says you can do it in your coffee break, while walking the dog, or during your visit to the gym. It currently offers podcasts in five languages – French, Spanish, Italian, German and Chinese – and each language has four settings: beginner, intermediate, upper intermediate, and advanced. radiolingua.com
The Fluent Show
Hosts and linguists Kerstin and Lindsay have studied 15 different languages between them, including Portuguese, Japanese, Dutch, Mandarin, Russian, Welsh and Korean. The podcast is less about specific languages and more about learning as a whole, plus tips and ideas that will help language learners become fluent. fluent.show
This podcast from the people behind language-learning app Babbel explores how language connects the world. It doesn’t focus on a specific language, instead covering a variety, but it looks at everything from whether language affects our world view to which accents are sexiest. podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/multilinguish/id1451340179
Host Kris Broholm is fascinated by language and wants to share his passion. Again, this podcast doesn’t focus on a specific lingo; instead students and experts in the field join Broholm to share their tips on what it actually takes to learn a language. actualfluency.com
This podcast is all about finding work/life balance. Career experts Liz Dolan and Rico Gagliano offer advice on topics from avoiding burnout to how to fake illness when calling in sick, as well as helpful tips on how to progress in your career healthily and happily. wondery.com
How to Be Awesome at Your Job
Having worked with organisations from Google to Goldman Sachs, the United Nations to Amazon, American “trainer-in-chief” Pete Mockaitis here interviews life coaches, such as Pamela McLean of the Hudson Institute, about subjects including how to improve your leadership, and productivity experts such as Erik Fisher on how to avoid distractions in the workplace. awesomeatyourjob.com
Hiding in the Bathroom
Host Morra Aarons-Mele talks to women from the worlds of politics, business and psychology, and asks them how they created the careers they wanted. Guests have included Lisa Sugar, who turned her personal blog into global lifestyle media company PopSugar, and Fertility IQ founder Deborah Anderson-Bialis. forbes.com
Grant Baldwin – who quit his job as a youth pastor when his wife was five months pregnant with the first of their three children, with little idea of what to do next – asks people from all walks of life about how they got into their careers, from small business owners and musicians to photographers and teachers. stitcher.com
The Broad Experience
Tackles some of the biggest problems facing women in the workplace, from race and class to the menopause and ageism, incompetent bosses and sexual harassment to the hell of networking and the power of negotiation. Enlightening – not just for women. thebroadexperience.com
The UK’s oldest surviving hedge maze was commissioned in around 1700 by William III. The trapezoid-shaped puzzle takes about 20 minutes to reach the centre. Maze-only ticket £4.50 adults, £2.80 children, rp.org.uk
Hever Castle Kent
Choose from the 80ft x 80ft yew maze, built by William Waldorf Astor 100 years ago (takes half an hour), or a water maze featuring stepping stones and hidden water jets. Gardens from £14.15 adults, £8.90 children, hevercastle.co.uk
Comprising 16,000 yew trees, the hedge maze is the biggest in Britain. With two miles of paths and plenty of dead ends, it can take 20 to 90 minutes to find the centre. Day pass from £29,70 adults, £22.27 children, longleat.co.uk
This cherry laurel puzzle was planted in 1833 by the estate’s owners. Palm trees mark the four corners and a thatched summer house sits in the middle, waiting to be found. From £10 adults, £5 children, nationaltrust.org.uk/glendurgan-garden
Blenheim Palace Oxfordshire
A 10-minute walk from the palace, this two-mile maze is made from 3,000 yew hedges. Two wooden bridges let you assess your progress. Park & gardens from £17 adults, £14 children, blenheimpalace.com
Leeds Castle Kent
When this 2,400-yew tree maze opened in 1988, it was so complex that even its creator couldn’t find his way out. When viewed from the centre, its shape mirrors a crown. Castle admission from £25 adults, £16.50 children, leeds-castle.com
Minotaur Maze Northumberland
Inspired by the Greek myth, this maze at Kielder Castle is made from basalt stones held together by a steel-wire mesh. The goal is a small, glittering room made of rocks of recycled glass. Free admission, forestryengland.uk/kielder-castle
Traquair House Borders
This maze, planted with beech trees in 1981, has no dead ends, but visitors must reach four “sub centres” to come to the true centre. The house dates back to 1107 and has been lived in by the Stuart family since 1491 Grounds from £4.50 adults, £3.50 children, traquair.co.uk
The Amazing Cornish Maize Maze Cornwall
This three-mile maze near Saltash, which features two look-out towers, changes theme each year; this time, it is “Crops & Robbers”. From £7.50 adults, £5.50 children amazingcornishmaizemaze.co.uk
Peace Maze Co Down
This 6,000-tree maze in Castlewellan Forest Park was built to represent the path to a peaceful future for Northern Ireland. In the centre is a “peace bell” to ring. £5 parking per car, covers admission to forest, discovernorthernireland.com
Dragonfly Maze Gloucestershire
This yew hedge features half a mile of paths, with 14 clues dotted along the way to help you find the golden dragonfly hidden in the centre. Takes 20-30 minutes. £3 adults, £2.50 under-12s, under-fours free, bourtoninfo.com
In Castlewellan Forest Park, the Animal Wood is designed for kids age 4-11. It features wooden animals including a badger, a red squirrel and a giant spider, as well as a wooden tower with a climbing wall, a fireman’s pole and rope bridge.
I’m standing at the front of a classroom, my heart beating madly. I feel ever so slightly light-headed. A couple of metres away, six Year Eight students are facing me, waiting for me to speak. I take a deep breath, and say, for the first time: “Hello, I’m Ms Hamilton.”
I’m in a micro-lesson, which forms part of my teacher-training interview. Every future trainee is asked to prepare a 15-minute session which they then deliver in front of a small group of students and an interviewer. For someone who hasn’t been in a classroom since the last bell rang on my secondary school education 10 years ago, it’s a daunting task – a bit like finding yourself on the start line of the Olympic 100m final. Wearing flippers.
It has seldom been more important that people are persuaded to retrain as teachers. With new trainees leaving the profession in their droves (the National Education Union warned earlier this year that one-fifth of newly qualified teachers plan to leave within the first two years), the Department for Education is doing everything it can to coax career-changers into the classroom. Large, tax-free bursaries, funded subject knowledge-refresher courses, and some canny adverts that claim teachers earn “more than you think” are all being used to persuade professionals to retrain.
Schemes such as Now Teach, set up by former journalist Lucy Kellaway, who had been at the Financial Times for 31 years when she decided to become a maths teacher, are designed to help those with years of work experience in other fields make the move into teaching. Kellaway herself is a big advocate of the patchwork career. “The finishing line is being stretched outwards, too, because we’re all living so much longer and because people’s pensions are rubbish,” she says, “so it makes it even more imperative that we have at least two if not three or four completely different careers in the course of our lives.”
Why I decided to embark on a second career
The decision to embark on my second career was one that crept up on me. I started work as a journalist straight out of university and the newsroom felt like the most glamorous place in the world. I loved the thrill of an approaching deadline and the adrenaline rush that comes with watching live news break. I once spent a day on the trail of a man who had spent five years dodging train fares worth £43,000. I slept in a portaledge, dangling from a cliff-face; was drawn naked for a feature; met and interviewed A-list celebrities; and covered election nights.
But then I started to get the seven-year itch. It scary, admitting that you might not be entirely happy with a job many would scramble over hot coals for. But I found myself longing to immerse myself in real life, rather than peer at it from the outside with a notebook and pen in hand. A move out of London and a new long and expensive daily commute (no fare dodging for me), nudged me closer to my decision.
I looked into teaching while on my commute, almost daring myself to imagine another career. As a profession, it wasn’t completely unknown: my mum is a teacher and so was my grandmother. A good friend had left a job in marketing the previous year to retrain as a primary school teacher and she raved about it – although, crucially, without sugarcoating the very real challenges the job presents. Her reason for retraining was that she wanted to do something proactive.
‘Before I was a teacher I made zero difference to anyone’s life’
“I was struggling to reconcile receiving my wage at the end of the month knowing I’ve made zero difference to anyone’s life while working myself into the ground,” she told me. “I was fine with working in a stressful environment but I wasn’t fine with knowing things wouldn’t be any different if I didn’t turn up to work.”
I also wanted to feel useful. Kellaway agrees, saying: “Even after a day when lessons haven’t gone very well, I’ve been scrambling to keep up all day, and I walk home feeling really tired, I still think I’ve done an honest day’s work. Which I don’t think you ever feel as a journalist, particularly.”
So earlier this year, I applied to do School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT). This is designed to give new teachers the chance to learn on the job. At the end of the academic year I will, all being well, gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) as well as a PGCE.
What if people at dinner parties aren’t interested in my job?
Some things worry me about my new career. What if I can’t control a classroom or keep on top of the marking? What if I’m asked a question I don’t know the answer to? I worry disproportionately about being called “Miss” by students when I’ve always been a “Ms”. I don’t know what shoes to wear or how to handle staff-room politics. And for almost a decade, being a journalist has defined me. What if, in giving that up, I lose a part of myself? What if people at dinner parties aren’t as interested in my job? Vain, I know, but I’ve always relished telling strangers what I do for a living.
According to Lara Agnew, who left a career as a documentary film-maker two years ago to train as an English teacher with Now Teach, I needn’t worry. Agnew explains that people are actually much more interested in what she does now that she is a teacher. “It’s a bit like saying ‘I jumped out of an aeroplane aged 50’,” she says. “I think it’s the glamour of the unknown and probably the daring element [of retraining to teach] that people are quite curious about.”
The most common response to my career change has been people telling me, in hushed tones, how brave I am. Brave not only to step into the classroom in front of 30 unruly teenagers but to step out of the newsroom. I don’t feel brave at all, although maybe ask me again in a couple of weeks when I suspect I will be summoning up every ounce of courage before setting foot in my new school.
More people are building up a compilation of careers
The biggest thing I’ve realised during this process is that careers are not fixed. When I first started working, I thought a person had to choose a job and stick to it, for ever. In reality, more and more people are building up a compilation of careers, using their experiences in one field to propel them into another. In this way, I hope I can bring my journalism into my teaching – even if only by instilling in my students an interest in news and narratives. I hope to still write, but there’s a real thrill in adding another string to my bow.
More than anything, though, I can’t wait to learn again. Next month I will become both a student and a teacher, roles that I suspect I will play throughout my teaching career. Because I’m not sure you ever stop learning in the classroom, no matter which way you’re facing.