Welcome to the first of this year’s In the Staffroom. Introducing you to the people behind the scenes of La Academia, Manchester’s award-winning language school.

Last month we spoke to our fabulous Gill. She told us how was beguiled by the Japanese language, after finding herself in the land of the rising sun by default. A lifelong passion that’s never faded. Here’s what she told us: –

Q: Great to catch up with you, Gill. We know you’ve lived in Japan. Tell us how that came about?

A: I ended up in Japan by chance in 1990. And I was having such a great time I ended up staying. It became my home, and I built a career there. It’s about as different as life in the UK as you can imagine, and then some! It still continues to surprise and fascinate me all these decades later.

Q: It sounds like a real experience. As a Brit abroad, how easy or difficult did you find the Japanese language in the early days?

A: Yes. As the foreigner I had almost celebrity status in a small village in the Chugoku mountains. I like to talk to people. And nobody else spoke English. I had no choice but to immerse myself. So, I became competent in the Japanese language very quickly.

Q: And what about your career over there? How did that develop?

A: I started off teaching English in a junior high school. Then I also taught English at Niigata University. I continued with my own studies at the same time, for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test level 1. And I’ve been teaching mainly Japanese, and some English, ever since.

Q: Fantastic. And your passion for everything Japanese goes on and on?

A: Absolutely. Since my return to the UK I’ve taught Japanese at Manchester University, MMU, Salford University, and a variety of secondary schools. And, of course, over the past 10 years or so I’ve been sharing my love of the Japanese language with La Academia students. Privately, and on a one-to-one basis, mainly taking students to GSCE standard, and sometimes beyond.

Q: We keep you very busy. What do you get up to outside of work in your leisure time?

A: You do. When I’m not teaching I volunteer on the National Breastfeeding Helpline. And, generally muddle my way through life.

Has Gill’s story sparked your interest in learning the Japanese language? Then get in touch. Here at la Academia, we’ll be delighted to answer all your questions about your learning options and prices.