Languages make you smarter and more cultured, says new MFL teacher Charbel Ackermann

New French and German teacher Charbel Ackermann who joined the Academy at the start of this term


Bolingbroke’s newly appointed bi-lingual Languages teacher Charbel Ackermann who speaks English, Spanish, German, Italian and French, firmly believes that mastering a foreign language widens horizons and provides a passport to many interesting jobs and opportunities.


Are languages something that have always interested you?


Yes – I grew up in Switzerland in a bilingual household speaking Italian and German, and studied a third language at university. I then travelled and worked around the world using my languages. I not only love language[s], but think that mastery of them makes you smarter, cultured, and even more mobile, i.e. worldly in the true sense.


What did you study at university?


I studied law in Switzerland and fine art at Goldsmiths. Throughout my teenage years I was mainly interested in art, but became increasingly interested in the workings of society, hence my law and business education (I later did an MBA). After a stint in academia I travelled the world advising governments and businesses in Europe, Latin America and Asia. I never gave up on my interest in art and languages and am active in both.


What school were you at previously and what was your role there?


I got the MFL PGCE at UCL, trained at two outstanding schools in Hackney, and worked mainly at Latymer School Edmonton last year, teaching French.


What attracted you to working at Bolingbroke?


I was attracted by the fact the Bolingbroke is part of the Ark schools with their incredible track record of raising attainment. The school was looking for my combination of languages, and meeting the team and the students was a delight - I very much liked the people, their values and especially their passion.


What is your approach to teaching and how are you going to engage pupils in your subject?


I like to push classes as far as possible, this means working at pace and students are often asked for quick responses. I believe in the importance of individual feedback, which helps students master the subject and builds confidence. Intellectual excitement is absolutely key: the curriculum provides exciting material including literature and film and students should understand where the course is going and make connections between topics.

Inside -out knowledge of the exam is obviously vital, and it’s my role to help students get to know the requirements for the highest levels on each paper. Lastly, I believe in the importance of learner independence. My own experience is that increased responsibility encourages excellence and means you are having more fun in learning languages.

What would you say to pupils who are considering choosing languages for A-levels?

I did three languages for my school leaving degree.  Not only was I thrilled about getting on top of the languages, I deeply enjoyed reading great authors in French, Italian and English. Later I was able to use these languages professionally and go places with them.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I am a keen amateur musician, and was deeply impressed with the music performance on speech day. – fabulous! Other interests? I am a film aficionado, and also like to relax by playing tennis at the weekends and hiking in summer. I love excellent food, mainly produced in my own kitchen.