Ruth Payne

I studied my undergraduate degree here in my late 30s, completed my PGCE in the School of Education and then I became a secondary school teacher and an A-level examiner. During my career I became interested in the language

used by teachers in relation to behaviour in the classroom and decided I wanted to do a PhD. I returned to Leeds on a PhD scholarship and have taught here ever since.

My specialism is sociolinguistics but one of my key interests focuses on developing students’ academic and study skills to help them understand what to expect from academic life. I enjoy teaching because I like the idea that I’ve managed to take a concept and convey it to somebody else in a way that makes it exciting for them, makes them want to understand it and retain it because it interests them. The smaller teaching groups at postgraduate level mean there’s the potential for a much deeper discussion which is very rewarding. In particular, I like that I can make sure that academic thought doesn’t end up being seen as something that happens separately from real life, and that’s really where my work with the M&S Company Archive comes in.

Using Archive resources, including newspaper cuttings, staff magazines and advertising material, I developed teaching material for A-level English language teachers, to help with the linguistic components of the curriculum. The resources demonstrate how language has changed over time and the material I’ve put together has been well received by teachers.

As part of my University Student Education Fellowship, I’ve been awarded project funding and have used this to develop the scheme further. We are employing a previous postgraduate student to help deliver the project and introduce an undergraduate module that will allow students to produce their own packs and lesson plans to deliver in schools.

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