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Promoting the take-up of languages and student mobility

Yorkshire and the Humber

“Visitez le Yorkshire!”

Yorkshire and the Humber

Year 9 pupils from George Pindar School, Scarborough, used their language skills to promote Yorkshire, by holding a virtual tourist fair for French visitors coming to watch the Tour de France.


To celebrate the arrival of the Tour de France in July 2014, 26 Year 9 pupils came to the University of Hull to see how they could use the French language in a day based around the tourism industry.


The pupils spent the morning creating voiceovers to see how French can be used to promote tourist destinations, whilst also learning about the vocabulary of cycling and the Tour de France. They then had a short “taster” session in Chinese, an opportunity to learn a language they’d never spoken before!


After a lunchtime tour of the campus, pupils were surprised to hear that some visitors would shortly be arriving from France to find out all about Yorkshire. Small groups were set the task of creating an exhibition to showcase the county. They certainly rose to the challenge, producing extremely creative displays highlighting the major cities, seaside towns, national parks, historical attractions and typical Yorkshire cuisine.


Frances Simpson, MFL teacher at George Pindar, was delighted with her pupils’ efforts: “It was great to observe the tourism activity; it really captured their imagination! What’s more, visiting a large university campus really opens their eyes to the possibilities open to them, especially if they continue with languages into higher education.”


This was a Routes into Languages event, forming part of the “Languages in Context” theme running through Routes activities this year. Generous additional funding was provided by The Ferens Education Trust.


Could a Student Language Ambassador help your school?

Yorkshire and the Humber

Several schools in Yorkshire and the Humber have benefited from regular visits from Student Language Ambassadors.


The ambassadors, some native speakers, others UK languages students have been able to help out in language classes by giving extra support to pupils.


They have also been well-placed to talk about their experiences in the countries where the language is spoken. Native speakers can provide invaluable input into topics such as the school system in their home country and can be a more flexible alternative to pre-recorded listening, or pronunciation exercises.


Languages students from the UK, on the other hand, can be great role models for pupils unsure of the benefits of studying languages. It can be an inspiration to hear how someone with a very similar background to them has been able to spend a year living in a foreign country.


Many of the ambassadors taking part in the scheme do so because they are interested in finding out more about teaching as a profession. As such, they are usually eager to make a good impression and to find out as much as possible about life in the classroom. Schools have commented that the ambassadors they have hosted have been motivated, well-prepared and positive role-models for their students.


If your school would be interested in having some support from a Student Language Ambassador, please contact, or contact any of our partner institutions in the region.

Routes into Languages Revision Days 2014

Yorkshire and the Humber

Routes into Languages held its ever-popular Revision Days on the 8th, 9th and 10th April 2014, welcoming students from a total of 11 different schools and colleges across the region to the University of Hull.


Revision sessions were held in German, Spanish and French at AS and GCSE level and were taught by experienced tutors, all of whom were native speakers of the respective languages.


Each group revised three different topics from the exam syllabus during their visit, in groups ranging in size from 5 to 17 students. Each group was also accompanied by a Student Language Ambassador throughout the day, enabling participants to get some 1:1 help with the exercises.


As the sessions took place in the University of Hull’s language labs, this was also a chance to get a taste of what it is like to study languages at a university.


The students who attended the event commented that they felt much more confident prior to their exams as a result. Some fed back that they appreciated the chance to use the target language with someone other than their normal teacher and that they really enjoyed working with the friendly Student Ambassadors and tutors. Others said that they might now consider studying languages to a higher level, which is great news!

Spanish Drama fun!

Yorkshire and the Humber

Wed 2nd April saw year 8 and 9 pupils from Brigshaw High and Halifax High schools meet at the Perform One studio, Leeds Metropolitan University to try out their acting skills and use 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 excitement in learning languages and encourage young people to study them further.


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 Metropolitan Language Ambassadors.


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 Met staff!


A pupil commented: “I really enjoyed myself. I thought it was really fun and I would come and do it again!” A teacher mentioned that it gave pupils “the chance to use Spanish in a creative and imaginative way. More workshops would be great!


At the end of the day Spanish tutor, Sebastián Rodríguez commented: “This workshop was about learning and practising Spanish in an effective way with creative and unconventional approaches. This session shows that Drama is a great way to boost students’ Spanish. According to Richard Courtney (1974) ‘Play, acting and thought are interrelated.’ I have used this to introduce one of the most important Spanish writers, Miguel de Cervantes, and his most known novel, Don Quixote, to the students. It is important for them to get know, not just the language but the Spanish culture too as part of their learning.


Drama can take several forms, but above all it should be a communicative activity where the learners can speak Spanish using the level they are working at. The students created their own dialogue with the language they learnt in school. It was great to see young people very motivated and working in a team to produce a play and very rewarding to see them helping and encouraging each other.”

Leeds Loves Languages Festival 7th and 21st March 2014

Yorkshire and the Humber

School pupils from across the region gathered to fuel their love of languages at the Leeds Loves Languages Festival on 7th March. Due to high demand a further date was added on the 21st March 2014. The Leeds Loves Languages Festival, a joint venture between the University of Leeds and Leeds Metropolitan University, is now in its fourth year and aims to show the benefits and excitement in learning languages and exploring foreign cultures. The event forms part of the nationwide Speak to the Future campaign which aims to promote the learning of foreign languages in the UK from primary school to university level and is supported by Routes into Languages 2, a HEFCE funded initiative, aiming to enthuse and encourage people to study languages.


120 pupils from year 12 had the opportunity to engage with speakers of other languages as well as students and tutors from both universities. As well as taking part in conversation classes in languages they are already learning, students participated in taster sessions in lesser-taught languages such as Japanese, Arabic, Greek, Thai and Russian. During the day pupils learnt about the experiences of current modern language students, the benefits of a year abroad and also found out about the value of languages in the workplace and for future careers.


Comments from the event included:


‘The ambassadors talking about their experiences… made me want to do languages’ (pupil)


‘The event has shown me the importance of languages in everyday life, and how useful they can be in various situations’ (pupil)


‘Student leaders were fantastic, a very nice atmosphere and the timing of the day was exceptional’ (teacher)




Cultural and Linguistic Diversity Day

Yorkshire and the Humber


Routes into Languages helped Winterton Community Academy to run their Cultural and Linguistic Diversity Day.


Routes provided four Student Language Ambassadors for the event. The ambassadors came from Spain, Italy, Peru and Austria and presented a variety of interesting facts about their respective countries. The Year 7 pupils who took part were particularly excited about Austrian food and the pictures of Carnival in Italy!


Student Language Ambassadors play a key role in the work of Routes into Languages. Whether UK students studying foreign languages, or international students spending time in this country, they are uniquely placed to inspire young people and to show them how studying languages can be beneficial to them.


The event at Winterton showed clearly how Student Language Ambassadors can make a big impact. “Our pupils are now more curious about going to visit the different countries to be able to experience the life, language and culture on a first-hand experience,” said Eleanor Elliot, Subject Leader of Modern Foreign Languages at Winterton.

Foreign Language Spelling Bee Yorkshire and the Humber Spelling Bee Regional Final 2014

Yorkshire and the Humber


114 Year 7 pupils from 29 schools across Yorkshire and the Humber made their way to the Regional Final of the Routes into Languages Foreign Language Spelling Bee on 13th March 2014.


The event was hosted at the University of Hull and was a fantastic celebration of language learning. Stuart Whittingham, Acting Project Manager for Routes into Languages Yorkshire and the Humber commented: “it is amazing to see such enthusiasm and excitement for languages from these children!”


Gaining a place in the Regional Final had already taken a lot of commitment and hard work. Heats had been held within individual classes, followed by a competition to find the best four spellers in each school. One teacher remarked that “It has been great for raising the profile of languages within school and motivating all our Year 7s who took part in the earlier rounds, particularly the boys.”


The top four participants in each language qualified for the National Final later in the year. Everyone in the Yorkshire and the Humber region wishes the best of luck to all those who have made it through to the next stage!



Chinese New Year Celebrations

Yorkshire and the Humber

School children from across the region celebrated the Year of the Horse at Leeds Metropolitan University as they learnt about Chinese culture and language.


Around 60 year nine pupils, aged between 13 and 14, from Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School in Leeds, David Young Community Academy in Seacroft, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe High School in Halifax and St Aidan's C of E School in Harrogate, spent a day at the University's Headingley Campus, where they had the chance to try out kung fu and paper cutting, whilst getting a taste of the Mandarin language. They also met with current Leeds Metropolitan language students, who shared their experiences of university.


The pupils learnt about Chinese culture throughout the day, whilst finding out why learning a language is so important. All schools involved are engaged in the University's Routes into Languages project which was set up four years ago to promote languages in secondary schools and is funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).


Dr Théophile Munyangeyo, Senior Lecturer in Languages, said: "In a world that is increasingly being shaped by interdependent partnerships through which former developing countries are taking the lead in economic growth, the importance of foreign language and intercultural communication skills is now self-evident. Within this context of globalised and competitive markets, ignoring the role that countries with thriving world economies like China are already playing in remodelling the world order would lead to regrettable consequences.


"The celebration of Chinese New Year through the showcase and the development of language skills in Chinese, coupled with learning about the Chinese way of life, allows pupils to reflect on how language skills and intercultural awareness are becoming core skills that current generations have to develop for a brighter future."


Read the full story here.

Languages and Careers – Tandem Learning Event at University of Hull

Yorkshire and the Humber

5th February 2014 saw 22 AS and A Level students exploring languages and careers at the latest Routes into Languages Yorkshire and the Humber event, held at the University of Hull.


The students spent the day investigating different career options for languages students, whilst also gaining valuable speaking practice with native speakers, acting as Student Language Ambassadors.


Many of the attendees had taken part in the award-winning Online Tandem Learning scheme earlier in the year. This project, run jointly by the University of Hull and Routes into Languages, matches sixth form students with Student Language Ambassadors who are native speakers in the language that they are learning. They then exchange emails over a six-week period, via the university’s virtual learning environment, giving them lots of reading and writing practice in a safe, supervised setting.


This was the first time that the scheme had been followed up with a face-to-face event. Participants were invited onto campus to meet their partners, along with other native speakers. This time, the focus was on speaking and listening skills.


As well as exploring career options for linguists, the students discussed the transferable skills that are gained through studying languages, such as teamwork, adaptability and analytical skills.


These ideas were incorporated into target language presentations on the subject of Languages and Careers. They also took inspiration from watching clips on Third Year Abroad’s Language Launchpad website, which showcases a number of languages graduates and how their studies have helped them progress their careers.


The event proved extremely popular with the students who attended. One student said: "I learnt many new things and it was a good experience to talk to native French speakers," whilst another commented: "It was a really good experience for helping both my language and my confidence."


Many of the Student Language Ambassadors also found the experience very beneficial. Theresa, from Germany, commented: “I really enjoyed the day working with these students. I am now keen to find more opportunities to work in schools and with young people, helping them to improve their German.”