ELA alumni from over the decades share their stories. Contact us if you'd like to tell us your ELA story - we'd love to hear from you!

Louise Glen (Germany, 1984-1985)

Senior Education Officer - Languages, Education Scotland

'Without my year in Germany, I wouldn’t be the same person. Not only did I hone my language skills and gain insight into some fascinating cultural norms, I also learned how to really look after myself. I look back at my time in Hanover with a great fondness for a time when I had the joy of being immersed in another language and culture and where I developed friendships and life skills that have stayed with me to this day. 

Thankfully the trend for permed hair had abated by the end of the 80s!'

Reeta Chakrabarti (France, 1986-87)

BBC newswoman and Chancellor of York St John University

'Being an ELA was for me an entirely happy and enriching experience. I was in a little town in the north-east called Montbéliard, around 50km from Besançon, and I taught in two local lycées there. I made good friends, found an undiscovered knack for teaching, and by the end of the year ended up speaking fluent French. I was given unbounded hospitality by the teachers and their families.

I would have no hesitation in urging anyone who has this opportunity to grasp it with both hands, and go!'

Ronan Malt (Spain, 2007-08)

Freelance football translator and interpreter

'My eight-month stint on the ELA programme saw my Spanish (and Andaluz) language skills improve greatly, and being able to operate successfully in another language and culture saw me develop a range of transferable skills.

Had it not been for the experiences I gained during this period of cultural and linguistic immersion in southern Spain, I doubt I would have acquired the level of language skills and cultural understanding that I’m able to call on every single day in my working life.'

Francis Gardener-Trejo (Spain, 2009-10)

British Council Azerbaijan Country Director

'Being an ELA is one of the most singularly impactful decisions a young person can make. My year away was an opportunity to be truly independent, think for myself, and create my own opportunities to succeed. It sparked a desire to work with and for other people, and to explore how the environment young people grow up in affects their future.

I would encourage anyone to apply – you have no idea where it could lead you, and that’s a unique, terrifying, but ultimately thrilling feeling.' 

Robert Stack (Argentina, 2009-10; Mexico, 2011-12)

Head of Business Change - IAG Cargo

'Being an ELA gives you the confidence to live and work abroad, providing an invaluable experience to immerse yourself in a language and culture that is completely different from your own. Quite often you are the only person local people have met from the UK and the way you act can mould another person’s impression of a whole country. I taught languages for two years before moving into the logistics industry based in Madrid.' 

Photo: Robert (pictured right) playing football in Buenos Aires 

Rachel Ashe (China, 2012-13)

Marketing lead for PwC's China Business Group

'I don't know what I would be doing now if I didn't apply to be an English Teacher back at university - but I know I wouldn't have lived abroad for six years, met my now-husband, learnt a new language, visited some incredible places and made some of my best friends! I went on to work at two universities and an international school. I now work in PwC's International Markets team with a focus on China.

I would genuinely recommend it to anyone!'