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Promoting the take-up of languages and student mobility

West Midlands

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".

University of Warwick "Why Study Languages" presentations

West Midlands

We have been very busy at the University of Warwick
delivering ‘Why study languages?' presentations to Year 9 and Year 11 pupils in
eight local schools so far. Many more
visits are planed for next year. The presentations have been a great success.
Schools and teachers alike have given very positive feedback.


one tutor: "
The students were lovely,
participated quite well and asked questions. I think that overall it was a
positive experience. The school inquired about having another presentation for
years 10 & 11".


From a head of languages: "The presentation was very good and Alicia (tutor
from the University
of Warwick) delivered it
well. It has certainly got students thinking about the importance of choosing
languages for GCSE. They particularly enjoyed the Gary Linekar clip when he is
speaking in Spanish. As Head of Languages I was very pleased that this was
being offered by the University as some students will have listened more and
taken more note of what was said because it came from
an outside speaker."


Our team of tutors have also enjoyed talking to
students and they feel that the participants have responded well and are
realising the importance of learning another language. We hope to continue with
our work during 2009 and to reach out to more schools.


We are currently preparing for our 3-day immersion
into Oriental languages event. It will take place on 14, 15 and 16 April. We
have many informative and entertaining activities planned and hope that 30
pupils from local schools will benefit from this. Warwick volunteers have started already visiting local schools
to help in language lessons. They also have some one-off events planned for this
term, including a day of learning Italian through drama.

Warwickshire Language Days

West Midlands

Student volunteers from the University of Warwick worked with Arden School in Solihull to organise two language days on the University campus, on 6th and 20th February.  These days involved about 25 Year 10 and 11 pupils, and aimed to focus on strategies and tactics to improve their language results at GCSE and also to raise awareness of the opportunities and skills obtained by studying languages.

The pupils worked in small groups, each with a volunteer 'mentor' who was a current undergraduate studying languages at Warwick.  The mentors were able to discuss issues around the study of languages and to relay some of their own personal experiences of learning a new language.  The mentors then supported the groups in working through some exercises around language learning.  The days also included short workshops, given by University staff, on languages which the pupils may not have come across before.

Languages Tutors

West Midlands

Language Tutors are student volunteers who visit a school once a week, to help classroom teachers to deliver language classes or after-school clubs. The Language Tutors might be studying languages at University, or might be native speakers of that language. Having fluent and interesting speakers of different languages can help to make the classes more exciting, and hopefully inspire more people to continue studying languages at a higher level, maybe even on to University.

This year, the Language Tutors project has supported 9 secondary schools in Coventry, Kenilworth and Leamington Spa, covering French, German, Spanish and Mandarin.

Jour de la Francophonie

West Midlands

Around 60 Year 8 pupils visited Aston University
on 15th May to discover the French speaking nations of the world.

University staff and language assistants ran lively
workshops on their native countries and introduced pupils to the culture and
traditions of Quebec, Senegal,
the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tunisia
and South East Asia. The pupils then put what
they had learnt to the test by delivering their own presentations to the other

A handful of lucky participants took home prizes after
showing how much they knew about France
in an interactive voting quiz and Dr Graeme Hayes, of Aston
University, got the pupils thinking
about their perceptions of France
through his film focussed lecture.

One teacher from Moseley
School said: "The pupils
had to think, listen and analyse in ways which they might not have been used to
but they managed this and the feedback I received from the pupils was 100%

Staffordshire Pupils Get a Taste of Languages

West Midlands

Keele University, in conjunction with the Staffordshire Languages
Group, organised a two-phase awareness-raising event. The first phase of our
event at Keele University consisted in an informal
introduction to the importance of languages for more than 100 Year 8 pupils (12
to 13 year olds) from Stoke and Staffordshire schools, their parents and
teachers. On Tuesday 6th of November 2007, an evening for pupils
from 14 different local schools, their families and teachers took place at Keele University.
The programme included talks by businesspeople and former Keele graduates, and a
PowerPoint presentation highlighting the importance of foreign languages in
today's world. This was followed by a buffet of German food to be enjoyed by

second phase of the event, in April 2008, took the form of a themed supper for
parents and the pupils who had visited Keele in November, followed by an
overnight stay for pupils only, and language taster sessions the following day.
All pupils attended German sessions in small groups in the morning, and after
lunch there were ten languages on offer: Chinese, Dutch, Italian, Japanese,
Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tamil and Turkish. The idea was to give
the pupils some idea of the culture of the different countries and engage them
in some simple and fun learning activities, led by enthusiastic native

total, 100 pupils from 14 schools were involved in the project, one school from
Stoke-on-Trent, and the others from Staffordshire (e.g. Stafford, Rugeley, Newcastle, Cannock,
Uttoxeter, Leek). The organisation of our event was supported by a number of
people: Keele Widening Participation supplied student mentors to guide the
groups of children around campus, German tutors from Keele University undertook
the German sessions in the morning, and the afternoon language taster sessions
were staffed by visiting international students from Keele University, staff
from the Modern Languages Department at Keele, and students / proctors from
Coventry University.

taster sessions were a great success, and the pupils enjoyed the variety
offered to them by enthusiastic native speakers. The tutors engaged the pupils
with songs, visual material, tongue-twisters and interactive games that
enthused the young people for learning a foreign language.

school teachers took part in the afternoon language taster sessions, but in the
morning they had their very own programme: a PowerPoint presentation as a guide
to on-line languages teaching resources, conversation sessions in French and
German, and a wine-tasting session which was very popular with staff.

event was a great success, and we have had very positive feedback from pupils
and staff, as well as from the tutors involved in the language sessions. The pupil
questionnaires show a marked increase in the number of pupils who said that
they were "more" or "a lot more likely to study a language" - an increase of
22.5% compared to the November event. We are following up this positive and
motivating experience for the pupils with visits to the schools involved,
strengthening links and monitoring the uptake of languages in the groups of
pupils involved.


Birmingham Pupils Say “Ni hao” and “Konnichiwa”

West Midlands

40 keen Y9 pupils from schools across the West Midlands spent three days of their Easter Holidays attending an intensive course in Mandarin Chinese and Japanese at the University of Birmingham. Part of the West Midlands Routes into Languages Project and organized by the University's Centre for Modern Languages, the courses saw the young linguists learning the basics of the language and trying their hand at calligraphy, origami and other cultural activities.

Parents were invited on campus on the last day and were treated to an exhibition of pupils' work and a performance of role plays, tongue twisters and Chinese and Japanese songs.

A similar Y12 event is planned for 28-30 July. For further information, contact Sonja Bernhard at the University of Birmingham , Tel. 0121 414 2564

Mapping Progression

West Midlands

Language Networks for Excellence, previously the Black Country
Pathfinder, is part of the West Midlands Consortium for Routes into Languages
and is focusing on the mapping of progression routes into HE.

To facilitate progression routes into languages in HE, universities need
to be familiar with the changing face of language learning and accreditation
within the 14-19 sector, where a wide range of language courses and
accreditation is available including ‘traditional’ qualifications and

To inform and extend HEI awareness of the current situation and specific trends
within the West Midlands, Networks for
Languages will audit provision and produce a generic curriculum map for the
area. This will draw primarily on
secondary data from sources such as QCA and awarding bodies, and will involve
collection of specific details from a number of schools and colleges in the

The second step in this project will be the design of relevant bridging
curricula that will allow smooth transition for students who have followed a
variety of language progression routes in order to support them appropriately
as they proceed to HE.

Primary data will be collected through semi-structured telephone
interviews with, where possible, language department heads during the 07/08
Autumn term. Interviews should take no longer than half an hour.

If you would like to be involved in the research please contact Helen
Sargeant on 01902 518966 or

Celebrating China

West Midlands

On Friday 8th
February, 85 youngsters from 5 West Midlands schools celebrated the start of
the Chinese New Year with Aston University’s first Routes into Languages
cultural day.

The event was part of the
West Midlands Routes into Languages Consortium activities.

The Year 7 and 8 pupils took
part in a series of 'hands-on' workshops looking at Chinese language, culture,
traditions, arts and the New Year celebrations.

They also experienced a
practical Tai Chi session led by professional instructor Mark Peters of the
West Midlands based Kai Ming Association.

The event was the first in a
series of four themed cultural events led by Aston University this year.