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Promoting the take-up of languages and student mobility

Yorkshire and the Humber

What about...? language taster series

Thursday, 1 October, 2015 - 01:00 to Sunday, 31 July, 2016 - 01:00
Yorkshire and the Humber
In schools

The ‘What about…?’ language series is designed to give Key Stage 3 and 4 students an introduction to languages and cultures which are less commonly studied in secondary schools.

The sessions are designed to broaden students’ awareness of the value of language studies in relation to a language they do not already study, in order to increase their enthusiasm towards language learning, and enable them to recognise the opportunities for language study beyond school.

It is hoped that by introducing students to a new language, their enthusiasm about languages they are already learning at KS3 or 4 will increase and promote the enjoyment of language and cultural studies more generally.

The sessions are designed to be independently accessible by the students, meaning the teacher is required to do no preparation and very little delivery. Their role is for set-up, facilitation and basic support where necessary. The teacher need have no previous knowledge of the language in question, nor be a languages teacher.

These sessions would be suitable for inclusion in programmes for in-school ‘international days’ or similar, for extension/after-school classes for able or less able students.

Some language sessions will be available from October/November and those interested in borrowing the resources should express their interest to Esther Harper

For further information, have a look at this link

Kirsty reflects on her time at Linguastars

Yorkshire and the Humber

Kirsty Giffen, a Year 12 French and Spanish student from a school in the West Midlands, thinks back on her visit to the university at the beginning of July. Here's what she said:

If I had to sum up Linguastars in one word, it would be ‘brilliant.’ The whole experience went above and beyond my expectations, from the engaging language taster sessions to the student accommodation – the university certainly took very good care of us! Esther and the Linguastars team made me feel so welcome – even the little things such as being met at the train station, booking taxis and being given a bottle of water on arrival, made all the difference after an early start on the 6am train!

My favourite aspect of Linguastars would have to be the Interpreting taster session. Through a series of multi-tasking challenges to start, we quickly learnt that being an interpreter was by no means an easy job. We were introduced to two different types of interpreting: consecutive, which involved listening to a whole speech, making notes and then delivering back what was said, and simultaneous, which, as the name suggests, involved interpreting over the top of the passage being read out. We were fortunate enough to have a go at both of these, using the facilities where students train for their Master’s degree.

Entering the sound proof booth was quite a surreal experience. Although I knew what to expect, it somehow still surprised me when I couldn’t hear what people were saying – despite being able to see them talking in the other room.  It was only when I put the head phones on that I could hear the teacher’s voice, who then read out a passage which I had to interpret back into the microphone for my teammate to listen to. Due to there being such a variety of languages being studied in the group, we did this activity in English, which although may sound easy for language students – was actually rather difficult! Having to listen to what was being said, whilst trying to understand it, summarise it and then deliver it back, really gave me a taste of not only the pressure interpreters are under, but also the feeling of adrenaline and excitement. One key thing I learnt from this session was that interpreting is not translating: it requires a certain skill to be able to summarise the key points and pick out the most important information being said, rather than translating every single word. This, combined with the session on subtitling, has really opened my mind to the wide variety of careers and opportunities available to linguists. But what’s more, it has further confirmed my love for languages and my desire to continue with my language studies for my university degree.

Another of my favourite parts of Linguastars was meeting so many students from all around the country. Being a two day course, I was surprised by how quickly friendships formed and felt rather sad when the time came to say goodbye. At one point, I even found myself even crying with laughter from a joke we shared – I already felt so comfortable around these people that I had only known for a matter of hours. Such an experience really gave me a flavour of what starting university might be like, finding yourself surrounded by such a rich mix of personalities and accents from different places.

A massive thankyou to the Linguastars team for giving me an experience I will never forget!


For more information on Linguastars, click here to visit the University of Leeds website.

Eurofest Selby College 2015

Yorkshire and the Humber

The competitive spirit was high on Thursday 25th June at Selby College as Year 8 students from Brayton High School, Holy Family School, Carlton, Snaith School and Selby High School descended on the campus juggling their trade stand props, decorations and products.

Clutching berets, strings of onions and garlic, Eiffel Tower models, chef hats, bunting and paper chains, the youngsters certainly came prepared for Eurofest! The annual languages event returned to top-performing Selby College for the eighth year, providing pupils from schools in the local area with the opportunity to test their skills and demonstrate creative ideas in a simulated trade fair that resembled an Apprentice-style selling task – but with the additional challenge of conversing in French and Spanish! Alan Sugar would be impressed!

Mayor of Selby, Gavin Harding MBE kindly opened the event for the college and cut the flag bunting! He wished the students an enjoyable day, and even tried out a few phrases himself, saying: “It is lovely to see so many young people taking part from local high schools and also for them to experience a day here at my old college”.

The students from the four schools worked in teams to design and create different stalls; using their language skills to sell everything from cupcakes, bags and fruit cocktails to personalised iphone cases and flavoured edible pens!! Each school also provided an eye-catching tourist information stand with some particularly impressive banners and decor, highlighting the wide variety of tourist experiences to be found in Yorkshire, Paris and Barcelona.

Staff and students from York University, including PGCE MFL students and course leader Suzi Bewell, as well as from Selby College and the local schools, judged the competing teams according to their ability to communicate in French or Spanish. Claire Barber from event sponsor Routes into Languages at the University of Hull was also in attendance to see the students test out their skills.

After taking part in a hectic trade fair to generate the most sales from the customers visiting their stalls, the pupils has a short break before participating in 15-minute round-robin language workshops including Russian, Mandarin, Latin and British Sign Language (BSL). They also took part in a European-themed general knowledge quiz, before taking the opportunity to take a tour with our student ambassadors to look around the college’s impressive Abbot’s Road campus and extensive language lab facilities; available to them when they come to college in a few years’ time.

The event concluded with a special awards ceremony, which included an entertaining dance performance from the college’s Tourism & Travel students, before Deputy Principal Janet Meenaghan announced that Holy Family School, Carlton had won the overall Eurofest 2015 award for their enthusiastic selling techniques and conversation.

Holy Family MFL teacher Natalie Kirk said: “The students were delighted with their win at Eurofest and it has given them an amazing boost in confidence. They worked really hard to prepare for the event, by focusing on their pronunciation of French and Spanish and ensuring they had prepared their products and decorations well in advance. The students had a fantastic experience, they just wish they could do it all again next year!”

Each of the four schools had winning stands, which were declared as Selby High School’s Rizado Rizado, Holy Family School’s Petits Fours stand, Brayton High School’s La Boutique Bon Bons, and Snaith School’s Escargots. Individual star performers were also given a certificate of merit for their commendable efforts. 

Everyone that took part was given a goody bag and certificate to take home. Thanks go to Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Heaven & Home in Selby and the British Council for their kind contributions and help, as well as our sponsors Routes into Languages (University of Hull) and Leeds-based Language Lab provider Sanako.

Heather Lister, Language Lecturer at Selby College said: “Eurofest is a great opportunity for local schools and the college to work together. The event allows young people to practise their language skills in a fun but equally educationally relevant way whilst also helping them recognise the value of being able to speak a foreign language.” 

Report by Laura Carless, Marketing & Press Officer, Selby College, email or Tel 01757 211048.

Careers Using Languages Conference

Yorkshire and the Humber
On Friday 3rd July the Languages team at York St John University ran their fourth annual Careers using Languages conference, funded by Routes into Languages, welcoming a group from local school Millthorpe and some VI formers from Joseph Rowntree School as well as schools from further afield: Lady Lumley’s from Pickering, Brigshaw High School, Castleford and Don Valley Academy, Doncaster.
Numbers were low compared to last year as some schools dropped out very near the event, and it was too short notice for other schools to attend, but with a total of 68 students it was still a respectable showing.
Our Keynote speaker this year was ‘Hugh’, a linguist from GCHQ. We had not been able to advertise his presence in advance for security reasons, but our select audience heard how language skills are vital to the intelligence work that GCHQ does.
For the rest of the day the students had the opportunity to attend workshops on the value of language and cultural knowledge in different sectors.
Hugh ran taster sessions in Arabic, entitled Titkallam ‘arabee? while there was also The Orient Express, a taster in Japanese language and culture run by Mizumi Nango and BSL in the workplace – signs for success run by Dai O’Brien.
Due to their popularity in previous years, we had invited back Sally Fagan of Business Language Champions who ran a session entitled How to train your international dragon which got students creating an ice-breaker activity in either French, German or Spanish, and Ben Dobbs, a trainer in interpersonal and intercultural skills whose session Communicating Internationally – Languages, Cultures and Personalities had students thinking about all the ways in which we communicate – not just using language!
Students also got an opportunity to have a go at interpreting with the always-popular Could you be an interpreter? run by Tamara Muroiwa and Nathaniel Elcock from the National Network of Interpreters, and Marion Martinez asked students Study Abroad – Why take the plunge?
New for this year was The importance of languages in the hospitality industry run by Christophe Ughetto from York Novotel explaining how languages are vital for communicating not just with tourists but with an international staff. Christophe proved to be a big hit with the students!
The majority of students gave positive feedback (all but three thought it excellent or good) and there were many enthusiastic comments: “All lectures and taster sessions were well planned and well delivered. Found the opening lecture interesting as to the roles in industry having a language can benefit,” said one teacher.
Comments from students include: “Motivated my thinking about languages and my future.” “It was good to find out what languages achieve in life.” “The event overall was very good and I learnt many skills.” “On behalf of all the students your event is spectacular.” “I really like the event it gave us an insight of what you can do with languages.” Students also provided us with constructive suggestions such as: “I would like it if there were more interactive events,” and “I would like more opportunities in the future to do events like this.”
For further information about events for schools at York St John University, please see our website or contact

Language & Culture Day in Hull

Yorkshire and the Humber

On 30th June, students from Thomas Ferens Academy and Sirius Academy visited the University of Hull for a Language & Culture Day.

During the course of the day, the pupils learned about Paris and Madrid, finding out some of the sights that tourists can visit, as well as broadening their vocabulary so that they could describe these cities.

All of the new adjectives learned in the morning proved useful for the afternoon. task. Students were given an hour to produce a stand to promote either Paris or Madrid at a tourist fair. There was some great creativity on show and the teachers attending were really impressed that their pupils were able to use some of the language from the morning sessions, hopefully reinforcing this for their future studies.

El Mundo Hispano Celebration Event

Yorkshire and the Humber

On the 2nd of July, the Spanish team at the University of York celebrated the end of the online quiz El Mundo Hispano with a day of Spanish language activities.

They welcomed 50 pupils from 9 schools from all over Yorkshire onto campus. During the day, pupils learnt about (and broke) Mexican piñatas, played Mexican loteria and explored the famous El Camino de Santiago before celebrating their achievements in the quiz at the prize-giving ceremony.

A special felicitaciones to the overall winners of the quiz: ‘Los Vengadores’ from Bradford Grammar (1st prize), ‘Las Llamas afortunadas’ from Driffield School (2nd prize) and ‘La Armada de Solihull’ from Tudor Grange Academy (3rd prize) and a big thanks to all the pupils and teachers involved in the quiz for making it such a fun celebration of the Spanish language and the Spanish-speaking world.

¡Hasta la próxima!

Looking forward to Linguastars

Yorkshire and the Humber

In advance of this year's Linguastars event at the University of Leeds, some of the delegates wrote about what they hope to get out of their experience.


2015 is the fifth edition of Linguastars. Delegates come a range of schools regionally and nationally onto campus for a two-day programme during which they will discover something of what it is like to study at languages at University. The event is co-funded by Routes into Language and the University of Leeds.

Spanish Drama Day – Leeds Beckett University

Yorkshire and the Humber

Wed 10th June saw year 8 pupils from Corpus Christi Catholic College High school meet at the Perform One studio, Leeds Beckett University to try out their acting skills and practice their Spanish. The activity was organised as part of the Routes into Languages Project, a HEFCE funded initiative, which aims to show the benefits and fun in learning languages and encourage young people to study them further and was supported by the Access and Widening Participation team.

The pupils arrived with their enthusiasm and their language skills and throughout the day worked in groups to write their own version of Don Quixote. The activities encouraged students to use vocabulary related to the drama, to communicate with each other and try out some acting techniques, assisted by Leeds Beckett Language Ambassadors and tutors.

Having known nothing of the play when they arrived, the day culminated in the pupils producing a fantastic performance of their very own Don Quixote, impressing both their own teachers and the Leeds Beckett staff!

Eurofest York 2015

Yorkshire and the Humber

York St John Business School was delighted to host the first Eurofest York event on Wednesday 10 June 2015.

Developed by the Selby Modern Languages Forum, Eurofest is a simulated international trade fair for year 8 pupils. Its purpose is to encourage the active use of modern foreign languages and an understanding of the value of having language skills in a business.

This is the first time that York St John University has run a York-based version of the event. Having attended the Selby event and experienced the buzz in the hall, we were keen to offer a York version. It is very exciting to see how pupils meet the challenge of answering questions from people they have never met, with accents they are not used to, in an ‘alien’ environment. The trade fair scenario also shows them how the language skills they are learning in the classroom can be put to use in the real world.

Schools from all over Yorkshire registered an interest, but finally three schools attended: Queen Ethelburga’s College (York), Saint Augustine’s RC School (Scarborough) and Canon Lee School (York). Each school provided teams of pupils who manned trade stands in French, German or Spanish, promoting either a town or a product that they had devised.

Volunteer judges interviewed the teams and scored them on their use of language, response to questioning, selling power, creativity and customer service. There were also extra points available for ‘wow’ factor. At the end of the event, certificates were awarded to winning teams in a range of categories. Luckily, each school won at least one certificate!

In the afternoon, pupils took part in a carousel of activities including language tasters in Japanese
and BSL, a general language quiz, and a campus tour with York St John student ambassadors.

A big thank you to everyone who helped to organise the event, and to Selby Modern Languages Forum for devising the concept.

Alison Organ, June 2015

For more information, including pictures, take a look at the attachment!