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Meet Ms Sanitt

We were thrilled to speak to Meet Ms Julia Sanitt, Head of German. We spoke with Ms Sanitt to learn more about her and her role.  

How long have you worked at the school?   

I can’t believe that I am already in my sixth year here!   

What does your role involve?   

As Head of German, I do my best to enthuse our pupils to learn German. For the last few years, my colleague Mrs Knowles-Barron (Teacher of German) and I have visited Belmont to talk to the Year 8s about learning German and it’s very satisfying to see our numbers steadily grow. I do find that many of our pupils really take to German. They enjoy the logical grammar rules and the fact that it is a very phonetic language. Once you’ve learned the system of sounds, it’s pretty easy to write it, not to mention all the words that English and German share. I could carry on evangelising about the benefits of learning German, but I will stop there.    

What is your favourite thing at the school?   

The Languages Department is a fabulous department to work in, and I feel very lucky to be working so closely with such great colleagues. I love listening to all the different languages spoken around me in the office, and when I hear my Spanish colleagues chat, I try desperately hard to understand the gist. I really enjoy the challenge of picking out some keywords. I definitely know how our pupils can feel when they do a Listening activity.   

I have to mention our Mill Hill pupils, of course. They are always willing to have a go, an admirable trait when learning languages. I love it when they greet me in the corridor with a ‘Wie geht’s Frau Sanitt?’ Learning a language is about being brave enough to use it, so even a short interaction like that makes me very happy. Something else which struck me when I first joined the school was how many pupils thanked the teacher at the end of the lesson. Teaching can be pretty tiring and full on, so a little ‘Danke’ really means a lot.   

Finally, the food! I am definitely a person who likes to eat, so thank you to the catering team for always providing such appetising lunches.    

Do you have any advice for our pupils which could help them to get the most out of their time at the school?   

My advice is never to take for granted how lucky we all are to be working in such beautiful and spacious grounds. Make the most of your time here. It will go very fast. I’ve already completed a full five years, the time that most of you will be here for, and I remember my interview like it was yesterday. Try out lots of different clubs. Push yourself out of your comfort zone occasionally. I am doing that even now by agreeing to do this interview.   

What is your favourite book and film for our pupils and why? Can you share an inspirational quote with us? How does it inspire you?   

That’s a very difficult question, but a book I have read fairly recently and really loved was ‘The Dictionary of Lost Words’ by Pip Williams. It’s historical fiction and encompasses two big chapters in history: the suffragette movement and the First World War. If you love words and thinking about language, I would definitely recommend this book.    

Regarding films, there are so many I love, but I have to mention the brilliant film we studied for A level, ‘Das Leben der Anderen’. It’s set in East Berlin in the 1980s. It gives you a real insight into what life was like living under a communist regime and the ever-present secret police, the Stasi. The film poses many questions to the viewer, but one quote I particularly like is ‘ Irgendwann muss man Position beziehen, sonst ist man kein Mensch’(at some point, one has to take a stand. Otherwise, one is not a human). The protagonist in this film, a playwright, is being urged to take a stand against the dictatorial regime. I think none of us really know how we would act under such a regime and in the face of tyranny and how much courage we would actually have. I find this quote inspiring as it makes me think about our own actions in our everyday lives, too. Taking a position could be as simple as standing up for a victim in school or speaking out about something you believe is right when everyone else remains silent.    

Can you tell us something that we might not know about you?   

When I was 18, I spent my gap year working as a shop assistant at Marks and Spencer in Boulevard Haussmann, the flagship store in the centre of Paris. One day, it was announced that Prince Charles and Princess Diana would visit the shop. Everyone was super excited, and elaborate preparations were made. On the day itself, all the shop assistants lined up at the main entrance walkway and, being rather small; I managed to wriggle my way right to the front with excellent views of our visitors. They arrived, surrounded by bodyguards and M&S Head Office people, and Charles walked straight over and started talking to us in French, asking us lots of questions. It felt quite surreal speaking to Prince Charles in French, but I didn’t have the heart to reply in English. So, my claim to fame is that I have met King Charles and had a conversation with him in French!