From education to employment

UK Projects Showing Benefits of Language Engagement and Thinking Outside the Box

Communication can be through the angle of the body, the tilt of the head, the gesture of the hand, or (as football has learnt very publicly this weekend just passed) the butt of a head.

Using some, but not all, of these means for communication often proves to be the recipe for breaking down barriers between countries and between communities. At the European Award for Languages, announced this week, several award – winning UK projects have demonstrated that providing the background to the language being used can lead to a group of motivated and energetic learners eager to improve their understanding. The winners include amongst their programmes students re-enacting the Norman occupation of a local castle; taking part in a multilingual debate with university students acting as interpreters; studying RE or Geography in French; and using ICT and drama to boost learning.

The Winners Are”¦

At the Primary level, one winner is “A world of books” from Oughtrington Community Primary School, Cheshire, providing translations of well-known children’s books working with French, Italian, German and Spanish. Another winner in this category is “Around the world in 80 minutes”, provided by Théâtre sans frontiers in Northumberland who use drama, technology, music and language to introduce primary school children to the experiences of francophone countries around the world.

At the Primary and Secondary level, the winners included: the e ““ learning project “Where we live” through the International Learning and Research Centre, South Gloucestershire; “Enhancing community languages” at Aveling Park School, London, during the borough-wide Multilingual Month featuring 21 different languages; “Litterhitters!” at the Shawlands Academy in Glasgow that links a litter campaign by educating on environmental issues in French; “Inter@action” at Ringwood School in Hampshire where a residential team building element takes place; and “Invade Orford!” at Debenham High School, Stowmarket, Suffolk, re-enacting the occupation of Orford Castle and involving a mock trial with French and English students.

Vocational Learning and the Secondary ““ Higher Partnerships

Learning languages can be a crucial tool for success in business. With this in mind, one winner ““ the Vocational International Project Sheffield (VIPS) run by the Sheffield Local Authority – promotes a vocational approach to learning various European languages, in a business context. This provision benefits from independent learning facilities through the use of ICT and the opportunity to engage with the local businesses to establish the difference that language skills can make in the workplace.

Further winners include “Immersion Teaching” at Tile Hill Wood School and Language College, in Coventry, which has recently been designated a High Performing Specialist School by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), a content and language integrated leaning (CLIL) project allowing the delivery of other subjects in new languages (French in this instance); “Junior CULP” at the Language Centre, University of Cambridge which blends online learning with face to face classes; the “Able linguist day” at the School of education and continuing studies, University of Portsmouth, with university trainee teachers offering language classes for talented pupils in local schools; and the “Multilingual Debate” at the department of languages and intercultural studies, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, with prominent local figures taking part in a debate in front of more than 500 secondary students from across Scotland.

The Chair of the panel who judged the entrants, Brian Page, was clearly impressed with the quality of the entrants. He said: “These twelve projects, with learners from primary through to university, are fantastic examples of how exciting and relevant language learning can be. All the activities are totally engaging and an inspiration to students and teachers alike.”

The winners will be given their awards at a prize-giving ceremony at the Scottish Parliament on the European Day of Languages on the 26th of September. CILT, the National Centre for Languages, will be represented at the ceremony by celebrity patron Sir Trevor McDonald and the Right Honourable George Reid MP. The Director of CILT, Isabella Moore, said: “These projects show language learning at its best: vibrant, enjoyable and totally relevant to young people’s education and interests.”

Jethro Marsh

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