From education to employment

Isabella Moore, director of CILT, writes her exclusive monthly column for FE News.

It is around seven months now since I initially wrote about what a positive step it was to include languages as an option in the Additional/Specialist component of the new 14-19 Diplomas (“Including languages in the Diplomas is a positive step”). Since then there has been frenetic activity within approved consortia, schools and colleges and among all stakeholders responsible for delivering the first pilots from this September. There has also been excitement about the decision last October to create three new subject-based Diplomas to add to the new qualifications from 2011, one of which will be a Languages Diploma. There has been a flurry of comment on the new qualifications both in the national and educational press, some positive and some expressing concern. However, from the languages point of view, both the new Diplomas linked to the fourteen lines of learning and the distinct Languages Diploma herald good news.

Awareness of the opportunities for languages in the Diplomas has been quite slow in developing, probably due to a need to raise awareness of the concept of Diplomas in general, and to consolidate the content of the mandatory sections. However, it is evident from speaking to teachers around the country that awareness of languages in the Diplomas is growing and institutions are now beginning to think about how they might use this new development to expand languages within the curriculum.

In my previous article on Diplomas I spoke about how important languages and intercultural skills are in order for young people to flourish in our globally competitive market. In addition, I talked about the added benefits that the process of language learning offers, such as confidence-building, problem-solving, and developing a broader outlook, all of which help young people to develop the essential skills which employers are looking for.

The College of North East London (CONEL) is a firm believer in the benefits of language learning, and is one of the institutions blazing a trail in terms of developing languages for the new Diplomas. As leader of a consortium, they are planning to offer Polish within the Construction Diploma,which will be taught from September 2008 and offered to all of the schools in Haringey. Polish was chosen as the language which would best meet employers” needs because of the many Polish-speaking workers engaged in the industry both locally and nationally. The students will not be native speakers of Polish, but will study the language from scratch. The college intends to teach the language in an intensive block and link it to an overseas trip, thus enabling young people to broaden their horizons and see the value of what they are learning. It is believed that this will give the learners the edge in terms of future employment in the industry as it will enable them to communicate better with the workforce if employed, for example, as supervisors.

Clearly the Diploma consortium has high aspirations for its learners and is not marketing the Diploma as an easy option for low-achievers, a common misconception in relation to the new qualifications. They believe that including a language will be an important part of offering the innovative Diploma curriculum which young people deserve.

Content for the new discrete Languages Diploma has not yet been written, although a meeting of the expert group, comprising of specialists from all three areas of the new subject-based Diplomas, Languages, Science and Humanities, has already taken place. CILT, among others, will be part of the Diploma Development Partnership but, as for the other Diplomas, the partnership will be employer-led. The development of this new qualification will be a fascinating innovation indeed.

In the meantime, CILT is supporting teachers in developing and delivering languages within the Diplomas linked to the fourteen lines of learning by offering free advice and resources. For further information see:

CILT’s 14-19


CILT’s Vocational Languages Resource

Isabella Moore, director, CILT

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