The Leeds-York German Connection

Dr Hilary Potter to give a talk at York College to students looking to take their language learning to the next level.

Some time ago, in a state secondary comprehensive school on the outskirts of York, there once was a bored 11-year-old girl. Up until that point school had been quite dull, but all that changed in Room 26 – the home of German.

Being taught German was an inspiration. From that first lesson, the love of the language blossomed, it led to exchanges, through to GCSE and to A-level, to friendship, to university, stints working and researching in Germany, to a PhD in German Studies, to publications and now a career in academia.

A little over a year ago, on an Erasmus trip to Rostock University on Germany’s Baltic coast, that once bored girl turned inspired German academic was engaged in a conversation with her Rostock colleague - over coffee and cake, naturally. The conversation turned to the importance of the early, positive influences on language learning, on how that carries you forward and shines through in your fluency and joy in speaking the language. “You must have had a very good first teacher”, her Rostock colleague remarked. “Yes,” she replied, “and we’re now the firmest of friends,” came the reply.

That once bored 11-year-old is none other than German at Leeds' Dr Hilary Potter, taught by York College’s Alison Armstrong. That spark, that inspiration back in Room 26 set Hilary on a path to success and fulfilment and to similarly seeking to inspire her own students. The York-Leeds German connection may begin here, but it certainly isn’t the last. In fact, many of Alison’s students have gone on to study German at Leeds, including York College graduate Jade Douglas, who having completed her BA and MA, is now working towards a PhD.

Will you be the next connection?

This coming Wednesday, Hilary will be giving back and enhancing that York-Leeds connection. She will be giving a talk at York College to students of French, German and Spanish, the focus of which will be on studying languages at the next level. She will then run a workshop for the students of German looking at translation and German at Leeds' fascinating Kriegsgefangenen in Skipton translation project.