Mrs Agnès Gower Maîtrise, MPhil

Photograph of Agnès Gower

Department of Modern Languages
Language Coordinator (French Studies)

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I first came to Birmingham as a Colloquial Assistant (lectrice), as part of the University’s long-standing exchange with The Université Lumière Lyon 2.  After a few months back in France, I decided to return to Birmingham and the Department of French Studies, again as a Colloquial Assistant.  I have not left since.  




  • Licence de Langue Vivante Etrangère: anglais (equivalent of a BA in English) : Université Lumière Lyon 2
  • Maîtrise de Langue Vivante Etrangère: anglais (equivalent of an MA in English) : Université Lumière Lyon 2
  • MPhil in History: University of Birmingham


Before coming to Birmingham, I did two years in the Classes Préparatoires aux Grandes Ecoles in Lyon, specialising in English in my second year, before joining The Université Lumière Lyon 2 where I obtained a Licence de Langue Vivante Etrangère: anglais (equivalent of a BA in English).  

Immediately after my Licence, I was sent by my home university to Birmingham as a lectrice.  At the same time I completed a Maîtrise de Langue Vivante Etrangère:anglais (equivalent of a MA in English) at Lyon 2 University.

In 1991-92, I assisted Henri Béjoint (maître de conférences at l'Université Lumière Lyon 2, France) in his work on the lexical notes and correspondence pages for the Oxford-Hachette French Dictionary which was published in 1994.

I came back to Birmingham to work as a Colloquial Assistant in September 1992, was appointed Language Tutor in 1996. 

 At the same time, I studied for an MPhil in the Department of History at the University of Birmingham, under the supervision of Professor Peter Jones.  I graduated in December 1997.  My MPhil was entitled A Comparative Study of the Development and Impact of Child Labour Legislation in Birmingham and the Stéphanois region of France from 1830 to 1900.

 I was promoted to Language Coordinator in the Department of French Studies in 2003.  

I became of a member of the Institute for Learning and Teaching in 2001 (subsequently the Higher Education Academy).  I have been a fellow of the HEA since 2007.


When I started teaching at the university I taught expression orale and language laboratory classes.  I taught not only Single Honours and Joint Honours students, but also Engineering, Science, Commerce, Law students who were on “with French” programmes, mostly but not exclusively post-A-level students. In 1991, I was one of the first tutors teaching for the newly created Modern Languages Unit, and subsequently taught Open Access classes for a couple of years for the Centre for Modern Languages.

I taught on Modern France 1 and 2 for a number of years before moving more exclusively into language teaching. 

I am responsible for overseeing language modules in the Department, and more particularly in charge of all the oral and aural teaching in French, as well as Final Year language, a Final Year interpreting option and the First Year Business French module. 

I have been involved right from the start in the development of online self-assessment language exercises, first on the intranet with the creation of the Self-Assessment Facility (SAF tests) in the early 1990s and then on WebCT and now on Canvas, the University’s new virtual learning environment. 


I have always been employed on a teaching only contract, so I concentrate on teaching and administration. 


Other activities

In the Department, I am in charge of the 3 Assistant Language Tutors that come to us each year from our 3 French partner universities (Université Lumière Lyon 2, Université Montpellier Paul-Valéry , and Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès) and take part in the training of new language assistants for the School.  I also take part in the selection of the 3 assistants Birmingham sends each year to each of our partner universities.


  •  'Case study 3: First-Year language course for (specialist) post-A-Level students of French',  in Heather Fry, Steve Ketteridge, Stephanie Marshall (eds), A Handbook for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Third Edition, Routledge, 2009, pp. 339-341.
  • 'Using the foreign language assistant', in James A. Coleman and John Klapper (eds), Effective Learning and Teaching in Modern Languages, chapter, Routledge, 2005, pp. 102-107