The aptly named ‘Routes into the Future’ event at Newcastle University on Thursday 12th June brought together the full Routes into Languages North East consortium team, senior representatives of the partner universities, teachers, school pupils and the many and varied individuals across the region who have supported their work in recent years.
The consortium, whilst based at Newcastle University, also brings together Durham University, Northumbria University, the University of Sunderland and Teesside University. It forms part of the nationwide Routes into Languages initiative funded by HEFCE to tackle the current language-learning crisis in England and Wales. In all, nine regional consortia are currently working with young people to increase uptake of language study at GCSE level and beyond. Led by Dr Elizabeth Andersen, the North East consortium has established firm ties with key organisations regionally and nationally, including the British Council, Europe Direct and Théâtre Sans Frontières, as well as with local European consuls.
Following a stirring welcome from Newcastle University PVC Charles Harvey to the 100 guests in attendance, honoured speaker Baroness Joyce Quin - herself a former languages student of Newcastle University - shared her personal experiences of language learning and her hopes for the future of modern languages in the UK, drawing upon both her vast political experience and her strong ties to the region. Guests also heard from the inspirational team of Student Language Ambassadors at the very heart of the programme, who outlined the impressive scope of activity taking place throughout the region.
The work of the consortium stretches far and wide, from schools in Berwick upon Tweed through to Yarm. Regular activities include Roadshows, Masterclasses and Film Days, whilst exciting online resources for young language learners are also offered in the form of Linguacast and Universed. Regional contests such as the Foreign Language Spelling Bee are proving increasingly popular whilst pupils come together in their hundreds at the annual Beat the Rat Race and Festival of International Culture events. All activities are supported by a team of Student Language Ambassadors from across the partner universities who serve as genuine role models for pupils while themselves developing new skills to enhance their employability as graduates.
With over 300 schools and 35000 pupils involved in 700 events since 2007 and all of the activities above set to continue and develop even further over the coming years, the Routes into the Future event now paves the way for an ever growing emphasis on language learning for young people across the North East in a shining example of the collaborative power of the region’s universities.
For further details about the work of Routes into Languages North East or the Routes into the Future event, please contact Project Manager Sophie Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org.