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Promoting the take-up of languages and student mobility

West Midlands

Staffordshire Pupils Get a Taste of Languages

Region: 
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
all.

The
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
speakers.

In
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.

The
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.

The
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.

The
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”

Region: 
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 S.Bernhard@bham.ac.uk , Tel. 0121 414 2564

Mapping Progression

Region: 
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
‘alternatives’.

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
region.

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 H.Sargeant@wlv.ac.uk

Celebrating China

Region: 
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.

West Midlands Consortium Launch

Region: 
West Midlands

Off to a Flying Start
Friday 30th November 2007

Local primary and secondary school
pupils celebrated their success at the West Midlands Routes into Languages
launch at Birmingham
Airport on 30th November. The
pupils took part in a European Day of Languages competition (organised by Comenius
West Midlands) in September by illustrating how their language learning will
help them to become global citizens of the future.

Waterstone’s donated book
tokens for all the winners and their schools. Before receiving their prizes the
pupils took part in a trail exploring the airport to find out about the
importance of languages in the workplace. Lorna McClelland from Aston Villa
Football Club spoke about how she uses languages in her role as Players’
Personnel, Welfare and Liaison Officer.

The event was part of the
West Midlands Consortium Routes into Languages launch which marked the
beginning of a three-year programme of activities designed to encourage the
take-up of languages at GCSE level and beyond. Aston
University is leading the consortium
with its partners the University of Birmingham, Coventry
University, Keele
University, the University
of Warwick, the University of Wolverhampton
and the Language Networks for Excellence. This collaboration will deliver
e-mentoring projects, GCSE revision sessions, language buddy schemes, tutoring,
residential events, oriental language emersion classes and cultural days to
secondary schools across the West Midlands.

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