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Promoting the take-up of languages and student mobility

Yorkshire and the Humber

The Italian Job!

Yorkshire and the Humber

Routes into Languages Yorkshire and the Humber welcomed Year 9 pupils from across the region to “The Italian Job” at the University of Hull on 11th December 2013.

The pupils, from Beverley Grammar School and Balby Carr Community Academy, Doncaster, had the chance to have a go at speaking some basic Italian, before examining some of the stereotypes often associated with Italy and Italians to see if these are really true of the country today.

There were some raised eyebrows when the students heard that the third session would involve “speed dating”. In fact, this “Languages at University” activity involved small groups moving around to interview Routes into Languages Student Language Ambassadors, giving those attending an in-depth insight into the opportunities and challenges of studying languages at a higher level. They then completed a “treasure hunt” around the university’s Language Learning Centre, giving them a taste of the facilities on offer to languages students.

The Student Language Ambassadors clearly demonstrated the different subject combinations that are possible with languages. They included students studying Single Honours Italian, Italian with another language, languages in combination with non-language subjects, as well as some learning Italian through the Languages for All Passport programme. This encouraged some pupils to consider languages as part of their future plans, even if they intend to focus on different areas.

Rachel Haworth, Lecturer in Italian at the University of Hull, commented: “It’s great to hear that some of the pupils are now considering languages as a result of today’s event. I hope that we have opened their eyes to a few possibilities that they would never previously have considered.”



Mother Tongue Other Tongue

Yorkshire and the Humber

Sheffield Hallam University recently hosted the ‘Mother Tongue Other Tongue’ Yorkshire & Humber Regional Poetry celebration event. The event attracted over 300 entrants from across the region and Sheffield Hallam welcomed 78 winners and guests for the celebration on October 16th.


‘Mother Tongue Other Tongue’ is a multilingual poetry competition that celebrates cultural diversity and the many languages currently spoken and studied across the Yorkshire and Humber region.

The competition was a real success and Languages Sheffield would like to thank everyone who took part and supported the event.

York St John Celebrate the European Day of Languages

Yorkshire and the Humber

York St John University were delighted to host another celebration of language and culture to mark the European Day of Languages, attended by YSJ staff, home and international students, and pupils from local schools Lady Lumley's and Canon Lee.


Participants were given the opportunity to sample numbers, the alphabet, greetings and other useful phrases in seven different languages: British Sign Language, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Spanish and Welsh. They were also given insights into aspects of each foreign culture. The language tables were hosted by YSJ staff, students and guest tutors.


The evening finished with a spectacular performance by York Kaminari Taiko drummers, who encouraged audience participation on the drums and various other percussion instruments and vocals.


Many thanks to everyone who played a part in the success of the event, particularly the staff, student and guest hosts and helpers, Kaminari Taiko drummers, Betsy Whitwam-Kirkup, the Languages administrator, and the Student Union for inviting us to use their venue.


Read the full report and view pictures from the day by clicking on the link below.

Yorkshire Spelling Bee National Winners

Yorkshire and the Humber

Double Yorkshire Success!


The Routes into Languages Yorkshire and The Humber team would like to congratulate Emilia Corkery from St Mary’s Catholic High School, Menston for coming 4th place in the Spelling Bee National Final in the French competition and also Josephine Stone from Beverley High School for coming 4th in the German competition. The final took place in Cambirdge on Friday 5th July 2013.

Both girls did exceptionally well to get a place in the National Final as the competition was very stiff! They have worked very hard to get this result and we are so pleased to have some Yorkshire winners this year! Well done and congratulations to all the teachers involved also.

Spelling Bee Regional Final

Yorkshire and the Humber

30 schools and 110 Year 7 pupils from across the region competed for a place

in the national final in July.                

The Yorkshire and Humber regional Spelling Bee final took place at the University of Hull, with 30 schools and 110 Year 7 pupils from across the region competing for a place in the national final in July.

Those competing in the regional final had been selected from heats that had taken place in their schools, which tested their spelling ability in French, German or Spanish.

The pressure was on in the regional final as only 4 winners from each language can go through to the national final.


The winning schools in the Spanish Competition were:


1st place - primer lugar

Beverley High School

2nd place - segundo lugar Woodkirk Academy
3rd place - tercer lugar St Mary's Catholic High School Menston
4th place - cuarto lugar Beverley High School


The winning schools in the German Competition were:


1st place - den ersten Stelle Beverley High School
2nd place - den zweiten Stelle Bradford Grammar School
3rd place - den dritten Stelle Beverley High School
4th place - vierten Stelle Harrogate Grammar School


And finally the winning schools in the French Competition were:


1st place - première place Hymers College
2nd place - deuxième place Beverley High School
3rd place - troisième place St. Wilfrids Catholic High School
4th place - quatrième place The North Halifax Grammar


Well done to all those Year 7 pupils who did so well in competing in this year’s competition and to those who managed to get to the regional final!

Big congratulations also to those pupils who have made it through to the National Final in July. We wish you all the best of luck and we hope you get to bring some trophies back to Yorkshire!

Media and Music Day 2013

Yorkshire and the Humber

Music, Media and Languages? Is it really a match made in Heaven or a recipe for disaster? Two groups of Year 10 students from Cottingham High School put the idea to the test on the 12th of July 2012. The cross-curricular day was led by Daniela Schwark and Dominique Esnault from the Department of Modern Languages, and funded by Routes into Languages Yorkshire and The Humber. It introduced and explored the idea that music, media and languages go hand in hand and have very strong links, more so than you might initially think.

The French groups’ day kicked off with a session focusing on Film, TV and Adverts and then it went on to explore French contemporary music. The German group did the reverse diving into the world of music to begin with by exploring current bands and then it looked at German films and TV channels before the students had to create their own advert in the target language.

After a sunny lunch on the grass and a campus tour, both groups finished the day with a light-hearted session which included a quiz and a summary of the themes and topics touched upon during the morning. The German group did a final performance of their acapela musical ensemble which was mightily impressive and included some excellent beat-boxing. It was caught on camera! All groups worked really well together and the end results were really very impressive.

The event was an excellent opportunity for the pupils to develop their language skills in a different arena and to bring out other related skills through the medium of media and music. Evaluations were completed at the end of each day and pupils had these comments to make about the days as a whole:

 “It was a different experience and I learnt a lot.”

 “I really enjoyed it, it was brilliant!”

“I enjoyed the singing in another language and taking part.”

 “I thoroughly enjoyed it!”

 “The performances of the songs were fantastic!!”

So there’s the proof – music, media and languages really are a great combination! If you are interested in attending a similar event at the University of Hull and discovering something new, please contact Routes by emailing:



Careers Using Languages Conference

Yorkshire and the Humber

Careers using Languages conference YSJU July 2013


‘You work for an export company and a lorry driver turns up who speaks no English – what are you going to do?’ Sally Fagan from Business Language Champions, an East Midlands-based company which promotes the importance to schools and businesses of having language skills, brilliantly encapsulated in her keynote address the main theme of our Careers using Languages conference. We want to convince school students of the importance of keeping up their language skills whatever their future career might be.


The local schools who arrived on foot (Joseph Rowntree School, Millthorpe School and All Saints’ School) could not have been blessed with more perfect weather on the day of the conference. Other groups came from further afield: Morley Academy in Leeds, Wilberforce Sixth Form College, Hull, Fir Vale School, Sheffield, Lady Lumley’s School, Pickering.


The conference opened with a brief welcome from Mairead Kelly, Head of International Operations, YorkSJ International, who spoke enthusiastically about the benefit to them of studying abroad even before they consider their career. 


Then came Sally Fagan’s inspiring keynote address, Exploiting the Difference you Offer, in which she spoke of how she had used her language skills while working for a manufacturing company, having convinced them it was easier to train her in engineering than to train an engineer in languages. She also played a clip of herself speaking live on TV in Tahiti with no more than A level French.


Students then dispersed to the six different parallel sessions, of which they experienced three. Sally Fagan ran a Languages and Selling session in which students were encouraged to think about how you would market a product you wanted a large international supermarket to stock – an electric toothbrush or a toilet brush! – and to match, in French, Spanish or German, the various qualities of the product to statements explaining how those USPs made it indispensable to the buyer. They then created and acted out a rôle-play as if they were at their stand at an international trade-fair. Sally was hugely impressed by the quality of the students’ language ability.


Another session involved a presentation by Gillian Cruddas, MBE, Chief Executive of Visit York, on the range and diversity of tourists who visit York each year and how important they are to the local economy. She then conducted a quiz to see how much the students had remembered with York sweatshirts as the prize.

Dawn Leggott from Leeds Metropolitan University’s session ‘Why do employers like language students?’ reiterated the idea that having a language gives potential employees the edge over their monolingual rivals – linguists can demonstrate that they are confident, adaptable, good at going beyond their comfort zone.


Jenny Zobel and Maria Muñoz del Valle from the Centre for Global Education here at YSJU, ran a session entitled ‘Engaging with the Wider World’ in which participants threw inhibitions to the wind and learnt songs in French and Spanish to experience cultures from more exotic parts of the world.



Dr Svetlana Carsten and Nathaniel Elcock from the National Network of Interpreters ran an informative and interactive session in which they explained the difference between translating and interpreting and invited discussion about the skills needed to be an interpreter. Several students were then chosen as guinea pigs to try out an interpreting exercise, and some even had the courage to perform it in a foreign language.


Julie Harrington from International Service, a York-based charity which coordinates volunteers in South America, Palestine, Ghana and elsewhere, introduced students to the many exciting opportunities open to them and emphasised how her languages enabled her to build relationships with local people.


Mizumi Nango, Visiting Lecturer from YSJ, introduced participants to Japanese language and culture. They learnt about Japanese traditions and festivals, basic greetings and how to write their name in Japanese characters.


The feedback from staff and students alike was very positive: “Fantastic event!  Definitely want to return next year,” said one member of staff, “Really good day.  Perfectly targeted and would alter attitudes,” said another. Selected comments from the students include: “It was really good, made me realise that I would like to take languages for A level.” “I really enjoyed the experience that I was given.  It has given me opportunities to find out what jobs use languages.  It has motivated me to carry on learning languages.” “This event has cleared up any of my questions that I’ve had about taking languages.  I’m definitely going to take as many languages as I can.” “I think the event has been very inspirational, and has definitely made me put more importance on learning more languages and pursuing a career linked with languages.” “No amount of timetabled lessons at school can inspire and imbue students with the enthusiasm afforded by real-world multi-linguals.”

There is clearly enthusiasm for an event like this and we look forward to organising next year’s Careers using Languages conference.



St John Fisher Catholic High School visit to York St John University

Yorkshire and the Humber


St John Fisher Catholic High School visit to York St John University

26 June 2013

York St John University were delighted to welcome a group of able linguists from Years 10 and 11, from St John Fisher Catholic High School in Harrogate. After a brief talk on ‘why study languages?’ and a contribution from a YSJ Languages student, they participated in three language taster activities and finished the day with a campus tour.

The first activity was Japanese, led by Mizumi Nango of York St John Languages department. The students learned the numbers 1-10 and practised them in a very unusual way, by throwing balloons to each other and counting each time they caught them.

They then made jumping frogs in origami and learned a little bit about Japanese characters.

Stuart Gilliland, of York St John Languages department, kept the students on their toes in the BSL session by communicating by sign only for the first half hour, before revealing that he was a hearing person. The students then learned the alphabet and a how to exchange simple facts about themselves.

We took the unusual step of including a Latin session, because the students had been studying Latin at school as an extra-curricular activity. We were delighted that James Harrison of Bootham School was able to spare the time to run this session, and it was a real eye-opener to many of the pupils. Having given them a quiz on Latin words and names which are still used in English today, Mr Harrison gave them a whistle-stop tour through the essential points of Latin grammar, which the students picked up very quickly.

They showed their interest by asking questions about tenses and pronunciation, and were thrilled to be given an extract of Harry Potter in Latin to read.

Feedback from staff and students was very positive, and we plan to repeat the event next year.

Suggestions for improvements included:

  • Timing good – perhaps just a short DVD of some kind would have added a bit of ‘je ne sais quoi’. (staff)
  • Would have liked to have more time on the different languages and also be given ways to continue them after the day. (student)

Student comments included:

  • It was nice to learn more unusual languages. It made me want to learn the languages, particularly BSL.
  • Latin was my favourite.
  • An informative event, with a captivating range of languages and activities included, as well as being an insightful look into university life.
  • Great campus tour! I thought the student ambassadors were very friendly and helpful. I also found the Latin really interesting.
  • Really liked learning BSL and Japanese.
  • I am interested in learning Latin after this language day.
  • Really interesting – I learnt so much! Student ambassadors were funny! Latin was amazing.
  • It has encouraged me to pursue languages such as Latin and Japanese.
  • Informative and entertaining.
  • I learnt a lot, very interested in attending university when I finish school.

Staff comments included:

  • The Latin input was the driving force behind any languages attitude change among the students (this is a reference to the question “Is the event likely to change students’ attitudes to language learning?”) The sign language was inspirational – wonderful presentation.
  • The variety, and opportunity for students to ask questions at all levels, were very useful.
  • A huge thanks to YSJ – our students have had an excellent day!


Alison Organ, June 2013

Revision Days 2013

Yorkshire and the Humber

Revision Days 2013

Over 160 secondary pupils and A-Level students from all over Yorkshire and the Humber descended on the Modern Languages Department at the University of Hull to take part in GCSE and AS/A2 level revision session on 19th, 20th and 21st March 2013.

The event, organised by Routes into Languages, included sessions in French, German and Spanish.

Claire Barber, Project Manager of Routes into Languages Yorkshire and the Humber, welcomed students and then it was straight on to the vital aim of the day – to revise as much of the target language as possible on key topics in preparation for the final exams in May and June this year.

Students were divided into groups and went into language sessions with a university tutor and Student Ambassadors. There were 8 ambassadors on hand each day to help the pupils and students in their revision sessions and interacted well with them. The ambassadors were international – a vital mixture of native German, French, Spanish and also 4th year English students.

During the lunch break pupils were shown the campus, including the Student Union, library and the Language Learning Centre by the Student Ambassadors and provided a good opportunity for the pupils to get a better feel for the University and campus life. In the afternoon there were further revision sessions in the three languages and these were taken up with vigour.

Comments by pupils and teachers at the end of the day were enthusiastic and many expressed the hope that there would be further sessions of this type. After the events, one teacher said: “It gave our students a different kind of learning experience and was a chance from them to compare their own skills with those of pupils from other schools, which boosted their confidence.”


The students were equally enthusiastic about the revision sessions. Of the GCSE day one pupil said:

“I learned lots of new vocab which will help me with my upcoming German exam.” Another pupil on the AS day commented: “Very informative and I would like to do this again.” And another said: “It was a good chance to practise speaking and build confidence.” Overall the event was a success, so thanks to all those involved.

AS/A2 Oral exam confidence booster

Yorkshire and the Humber

AS/A2 Oral exam confidence booster

Monday March 25th 2013

York St John University were very pleased to host 150 AS and A2 students of French, German and Spanish from all over Yorkshire for an event designed to boost their confidence in preparation for their oral exam.

The day started with a lively Keynote speech from Elaine Armstrong, associate headteacher at Joseph Rowntree School, AQA examiner and author of AQA French AS and A2 books. She combined advice about performing well in the oral exam, whichever exam board the students were following, with general tips on language learning and speaking. She spoke with humour and the students found the talk entertaining as well as informative.

We then broke into groups for language sessions. Depending on numbers in the various languages, AS and A2 students were taught together or separately. Sessions focussed mainly on skills and strategies (how to defend and justify your arguments, agreeing and contradicting, speaking at length and using connectors) as well as fluency and pronunciation.

Students were also given the opportunity to tour the campus with current York St John students, to get a flavour of life at university.

Comments from students included:

  • the German language session was the most helpful / relevant part of the day and could have been longer
  • very helpful, thanks!
  • would have preferred more exam advice in other parts such as the writing and the listening / reading paper, but I feel more confident on the speaking from this [YSJ comment: we had decided to focus on the oral exam as other universities offer more general revision days]
  • advice from an examiner was very useful
  • the classes to help boost oral confidence and the talk at the start was brilliant