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The new Routes into Languages website is currently in development and will be launching in the new year!


Promoting the take-up of languages and student mobility

West Midlands

Celebrating Active Languages with an Olympics themed day!

West Midlands

We have been working closely with 10 schools in the region who are involved in our Active Languages project. Each school has designed and developed their own activities combining language learning with sport – some examples include orienteering in German and handball in Spanish. Many of the schools are using students in Year 10 and above as Language and Sport leaders to lead younger students in various activities.

As a celebration for the hard work students and teachers have undertaken so far we welcomed schools back to University of Birmingham’s beautiful Edgbaston campus for an Olympics themed sports day. Pupils took part in Judo in Japanese and had a go at Tag Rugby in Italian during the morning sessions and worked in teams in the afternoon to produce Olympic bids for various French speaking cities around the world.

Routes into Languages Assistant Programme Manager Jess Hawkins was on hand to judge the bids and award bronze, silver and gold medals and other prizes to the top three teams. She said:

“The day I spent in the West Midlands was just brilliant. The young people obviously really enjoyed both the day and learning new languages. Connecting the languages with sports played in those countries was such an effective way of bringing languages to life. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and so much effort went into the fantastic presentations that picking a winner was really tough!”

With the London 2012 Olympics just around the corner, and right on our doorstep, Routes into Languages West Midlands is committed to promoting the link between sport and languages to ensure our students are well equipped for life in an increasingly international world.


Promoting Languages and Business Entrepreneurship in the Dragon’s Den

West Midlands

Coventry University’s Product Design Day in Japanese and Chinese.

On Tuesday 23 June 2009, Year 9 and 10 pupils from three West Midlands secondary schools visited Coventry University for an action packed Product Design Day of Languages and Business.

The pupils used their entrepreneurial skills to develop and market a product suitable for either the Japanese or the Chinese market. In the morning, the pupils spent time with their native-speaker teacher. They acquired some useful business language in either Japanese or Chinese. Most importantly, they learned about ‘how to do business’ successfully in their chosen country. In the afternoon, they worked in small groups to apply their new knowledge and cultural awareness to the design of their product. Finally, each group had to put together a presentation that - at the very end of the day – had to be delivered “Dragons Den style” to an invited business expert. A prize was awarded for the best presentation.

This was one of a series of schools events – fully funded by hefce’s Routes into Languages programme – designed to promote the take-up of Languages in HE, by supporting close collaboration between universities and local schools. At Coventry University, our work with schools has a major focus on enterprise: we have been able to give employment opportunities to many Coventry University language students and many of our schools events have had a strong business/enterprise focus.

The programme for this Product Design Day was jointly developed and delivered by staff from Languages and the Employability and Placements Unit (EPU):

Mie Hayakawa (Japanese teacher)
Tracey Holker (EPU);
Fei Li (Final Year Chinese student; BA English and Economics);
Janet Lewis (Routes into Languages at CU);
Kayleigh Blackstock (undergraduate on placement in the EPU);
Ken McWilliam (Languages Centre);
Hannah Steeples and Jade McGowan (undergraduates studying languages).

New developments in the West Midlands for 2009-2010!

West Midlands

We are now entering the third year of Routes into Languages and here in the West Midlands we are eager to get going! As well as a full calendar of events and activities taking place as in previous years we have also developed some new initiatives starting this year!


For Sixth Form students and teachers we have developed a new Language Shadow scheme which will allow students to spend half a day with a current language undergraduate attending lectures and finding out what life as a language student is really like. Teachers can apply to spend half a day with a language academic attending lectures and discussing current standards, practices and issues. We expect this scheme will be very popular and will help the often difficult transition between school or college and university. We are also currently developing a Guide to Language Learning Opportunities at HE for Students and Parents to help students who are unsure of whether to continue with language study after school or college and to ensure they are well informed about the wide variety of options available to them if they are thinking of keeping up languages but do not wish to study a straight language degree. This guide will be sent to all schools and colleges with a Sixth Form very soon and will be available for download under the Resources section of the Routes West Midlands website.


We are also currently working on an exciting new DVD project which has already received rave reviews in test screenings with Year 9 - 11 classes.


The drama features a teenage boy and girl who dropped languages after GCSE but now have the chance to win a summer Work Experience placement in Paris, Barcelona or Berlin. While the message is familiar – languages are fun, they help you get a job, working at languages brings rewards - the approach is new, and bang up-to-date. There will also be an opportunity to find out ‘what happens next’ and interact with the story on Facebook by viewing more episodes online at home, as the winner takes up their placement abroad.


Copies of the film on DVD and a resource pack for teachers will be sent to schools in the West Midlands soon and will be available for download on the website.


To read more about our exciting developments, have a look at our latest newsletter!

Languages in HE - Cross Consortium Sixth Form Conference

West Midlands

15th June saw over 120 Sixth Form students attend a languages in Higher Education awareness day at Aston University.

Representatives from all seven Routes partners took part in the day which included a talk on the many different options for studying languages and a series of lectures and seminars to give the students a taste of what their future studies could be. Students from each university came along to give a student perspective of studying languages and the day ended with a choice of taster sessions in several languages and translation and interpreting. An exhibition at lunchtime took place allowing students the opportunity to speak top staff and collect information from each Routes university.

The event was a great success with excellent feedback from students and teachers alike.

West Midlands Consortium Curriculum Mapping Research

West Midlands

Networks for Excellence, part of Education Partnerships at the University of Wolverhampton, is a partner in the
Routes into Languages West Midlands Consortium. A key objective in the bid from the West
Midlands Consortium was to map and monitor progression routes within the
14-19 sector in support of initiatives to encourage increased take-up in Higher
Education (HE), and to inform and facilitate appropriate adjustments to HE
curricula. To inform and underpin this
understanding curriculum mapping research was carried out by Language Networks
for Excellence to produce a generic curriculum map of language provision in the
West Midlands.

A summary of the report can be downloaded below, or to order the full report please email

Design a Display competition winners!

West Midlands

Following the success of four cultural days held at Aston University, pupils in attendance have been busy making displays back at school for our "Design a Display" competition.

We are happy to announce the winners, who produced some outstanding work, were The International School, Coleshill School and Yardleys School. They are proud winners of £100 European Schoolbooks vouchers and a framed certificate.

 Well done!

Grants for CPD courses in Spain

West Midlands

El Ministerio de Educación, Política Social y
is offering grants for teachers to attend CPD at various Spanish Universities during the Summer holidays.

The grant covers the cost of the course, learning materials provided, health insurance, accomodation and meals. Participants must cover their own travel costs.

For further information and details on how to apply please visit


Celebrating Culture at Aston University

West Midlands

Throughout February and March, over 200 Year 8 pupils have
been to Aston University to take part in a series of cultural events aimed at broadening their
horizons and showing languages in the real world. Pupils attending the Chinese day were able to try out tai chi, calligraphy and language workshops as well as
joining in with Aston students to celebrate Chinese New Year. The Spanish,
French and German sessions were led by native speakers of countries as far and
wide as Mexico, Guadeloupe, Congo
and Austria
and pupils learnt about languages in a global context. Aston was also delighted to
have been able to showcase the Routes into Languages programme and the
University to a number of distinguished guests from the Goethe Institut, DAAD,
the Cervantes Institute and the Spanish and French Embassies.

International Flavour for Flexible Learning Day

West Midlands

Cardinal Wiseman School, Coventry University and local Businesses teamed up to provide international activities for the Year 7 and Year 10 Flexible Learning Day on 25th November.

Coventry University Student Ambassadors from Romania, Japan, China, Italy, Germany and Brazil came along to Cardinal Wiseman to work with Groups of Year 10 students to design and market a cracker. Throughout the day the students were given a "whistlestop" tour of their country, looking particularly at its language, culture and customs.

Using all that new knowledge, the students' task was to design a cracker which would appeal to a target market in the country they had been studying. Each group then put together a poster presentation - including a prototype cracker. The students then had to pitch their product in a "Dragons Den" style, explaining how their product would be launched during a national festival, such as Chinese New Year, or carnival time in Rio or Venice, and showcasing their understanding of the business culture, as well as their new language skills.

We were very lucky to have "Dragons" in the form of local businessmen and women. Giving up their time to help out were Coventry Chamber of Commerce Staff: Malcolm Vaughan, Chistabell Amoakoh, Sue Woolnough, Emma Rynberk and Amrik Bhabra of (Adecs Profita) and Russ Pacey of Coventry CWCDA.

Mary Middleton (Director of Languages) said "I really enjoyed the day. The Coventry University Student Ambassadors were very well prepared and the Year 10 students worked hard to produce their crackers. Having the music and musical instruments was a bonus".

The students enjoyed the day commenting "It was very good, doing the presentations was very challenging, which I found interesting".


Meanwhile, Year 7 students took part in "Microville". In the first half of the activity students visited an imaginary French Town and acted out every day situations such as buying a postcard, visiting a museum, ordering food at a French café, booking a hotel room and even a visit to the zoo! As well as Cardinal Wiseman Teachers, native French speaking Coventry University Student Ambassadors acted out the role of hoteliers, shopkeepers and police officers. The second half of the activity involved the Year 7 students building and decorating their own mini French town out of cardboard. The towns were all labelled in French.

The aim of the activity was to encourage Year 7 students to participate in day to day conversation, as they would in everyday life in France.

Gayle Kimberley (Language Teacher) commented "It was a pleasure to work with the Year 7 students and our visiting students from Coventry University. We had a fantastic day and it was encouraging to hear our students really trying their best to make themselves understood in French".