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Elisabeth Lazarus, 1956 – 2017

Elisabeth Lazarus

23 August 2017

Former Senior Lecturer in Education and Modern Languages Elisabeth Lazarus has passed away. Her colleague Professor Ros Sutherland offers a remembrance.

Deeply held convictions about teaching and learning guided the professional life of our friend and colleague Elisabeth Lazarus, who has died aged 61 of cancer. Elisabeth was a passionate and brilliant teacher who was recognised by the University of Bristol’s ‘Excellence in Teaching’ award in 2009. She will be remembered as a teacher, leader and scholar who always prioritised the student experience.

When Elisabeth joined the University of Bristol in 1992 she brought her gift of teaching French and German in schools to her work as a trainer of future modern foreign language teachers. On reflecting back on her work as a teacher educator she said: “
I tell young teachers to keep true to their principles – policies and trends can change so rapidly in education, it can be hard to remember why we are in this field”. In order to remain significantly grounded in the realities of the changing teaching world, Elisabeth returned to management, teaching and mentoring duties in a local secondary school in Bristol from 2001 until 2004 and became an Advanced Skills Teacher in 2003.

Elisabeth had trained as a modern foreign languages teacher at the University of Bristol in 1980/81 and previously studied at Bristol for an MA in Modern German Drama. Her first degree was in European Studies from the University of East Anglia. Her secondary school education was at an international school in Switzerland. Elisabeth was a European and a linguist who specialised in French and German, with a mother tongue of Swedish. With such an international background it was hardly surprising that Elisabeth loved teaching international students. She often said that working with Arlene Gilpin and Eric Hoyle and the students at the Institute Aminuddin Baki in Malaysia was one of the highlights of her career. Another area of Elisabeth’s work that was very important to her was teaching on the MSc (formerly MEd) programme in Hong Kong. As Sheila Trahar says “Elisabeth loved working with the students in Hong Kong – and they loved her – valuing her professionalism and her care of them. When she started to teach on this programme in 2011 our colleagues at City University were very pleased to welcome another dedicated member of the team and valued Elisabeth's warmth and support of the students”.

Colleagues at the University of Bristol very quickly recognised Elisabeth’s superb leadership and management skills. She ran the PGCE Modern Foreign Languages team from 1994 to 2001, and subsequently led the PGCE programme from 2004 to 2008. From 2011 to 2014 she was Codirector of the Graduate School of Education’s Masters’ Programmes. In 2015, she was the Programme Director for the Hong Kong MSc in Education Management. Leadership and Management in Education became one of Elisabeth’s academic areas of expertise and she taught on the MSc Education (Leadership and Policy) programme and the Doctor of Education programme.

Elisabeth’s research interests and publications were shaped by her professional background and international experience. In 2000, she published the paper “The role of intuition in mentoring and supporting beginning teachers”, in The Intuitive Practitioner, edited by Terry Atkinson and Guy Claxton. She recognised the potential of digital video in the training of teachers and published “Videopapers as a tool for reflection on practice in initial teacher education” in Learning in the Network Society and Digitized School. More recently she published "Internationalising a Transnational Higher Education Programme" with Sheila Trahar, in Critical Perspectives on Internationalising the Curriculum.

When in 2013 after 17 years of training hundreds of modern foreign language teachers Elisabeth stepped down from this role in order to focus more on her Masters and doctoral level teaching, her legacy to the PGCE Modern Foreign Languages course at the University of Bristol was recognised by former students:

“Many thanks for being such an amazing tutor and inspiring me with your enthusiasm during my PGCE studies. The PGCE was one of the most positive things I ever did for myself after decades of bringing up my four children.”

“Es war definitiv eines meiner besten Jahre. Als meine Tutorin hast du in mir immer wieder neue Ideen entflammt, warst mit deinem Feedback unglaublich wertschätzend und hast auch einmal Tränen getrocknet, als ich in deinem Büro saß. Du hast mein Leben wirklich bereichert.”

“The warmth of your guidance and impeccable insight into teaching MFL made the PGCE course more fulfilling than I ever thought it would be.” 

“Merci d’être une aussi belle personne, autant de l’intérieur que de l’extérieur.”

Building on the last message, “Thank you Elisabeth for being such a beautiful person, both inside and outside” we would like to add: Thank you Elisabeth for being a colourful, sunny, optimistic, entertaining and warm human being. Thank you for being an exceptional academic at the University of Bristol, first and foremost an outstanding teacher and reflective practitioner.

Further information

The School of Education is hosting a book of condolences for Elisabeth, to allow students, staff and alumni to record their memories – please contact Mary O’Connell at with your contributions. 

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