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Promoting the take-up of languages and student mobility

Going Global!

Yorkshire and the Humber

Going Global was the subject of a languages conference attended by 73 young people at the University of Hull on March 24.

The Conference had been organised by the Excellence Hub and included taster sessions in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese and Russian. It was aimed at GCSE and As level students from schools in this region, with a view to allowing them to experience languages which they had not accessed at school as yet.

Director of Reach-out, Mrs Kerry Dobson of the Department of Languages at the University of Hull opened the event with a talk about how vital languages and cultural understanding are in today’s global economy. Kerry explained how studying languages increases employment prospects and also explained how studying a language can develop intercultural understanding.

“Learning a language allows us to gain a better understanding of the people themselves, their culture and humour for example. The more we understand a different culture, the more we understand our own, and we can then laugh at some of our idiosyncrasies” Kerry said.

Humour helps us to understand others; it can lower barriers, overcome prejudice and open up a bigger world. However, rather than trying to 'sell' language study, various humorous scenarios were featured to try and raise a laugh from the students and get them thinking about languages from a slightly different angle. The point was also made that the UK has the worst language skills in Europe, and that most Europeans speak their own language, plus English and another one. Whilst English may be the language of business and is used as the lingua-franca, paradoxically monolingual students (English speakers) are disadvantaged as many international companies want an additional language, as well as English. In this regard our European peers and beyond leave us standing. Their English skills match ours, and they have one or two additional languages!

For over half of the students attending, this was their first Excellence Hub event. Over two thirds of them were highly enthusiastic about the event and hoped there would be more. The Excellence Hub is run through York University and consists of 4 Yorkshire universities, (Sheffield, Leeds, York and Hull) who collaborate with the coordinating centre in York to run events in their universities for Gifted and Talented students (G & T students), in a variety of subjects. This event was co-badged with the Excellence Hub and Routes into Languages Y & H and the University of Hull. The Excellence Hub has replaced the Gifted and Talented scheme.

The next event is planned for November 2010 at the University of Hull