Sunday, 10 July 2011


This session was led by Rachel Hawkes, Jane Driver and Sarah Schechter and gave me so many ideas, my head was buzzing.
Routes into Languages promotes universities working with schools to enthuse and encourage young people to study languages from KS3 onwards.Sarah talked about the Supporter to reporter scheme, where the university has trained up journalists for the Olympics in the 3 languages. This made me think about doing something similar but on a much smaller scale, with our own Media Studies department.

We also learnt about Student language ambassadors and Language Leader awards within Rachel and Jane's school, Comberton Village College. Pupils learn how to teach primary pupils over the course of the academic year, although you could do it with younger pupils within your own school. This is something that we are definitely going to look at within our department in Septemberm most likely with Fifth Years and Sixth Years. As Rachel pointed out, the scheme is practical, it rewards language learning, it develops general communication and leadership skills and it teaches pupils empathy, self-esteem and confidence. The pupils practise their skills in peer groups in weekly lessons, develop lessons, create resources, trialling them with peers then they teach finally. At CVC, there are 3 visits – Autumn, Spring, Summer. Pupils plan in pairs or trios for a 1 hour lesson in the primary school, divided into 3 x 20mins, each pupil teaching their own 20 minute slot.
The following are the practicalities:
o Launch assembly
o Parent letter
o Completion/submission of application form
o Selection for September
o Carousel activity for younger LLs

Foreign Language Spelling Beeo
Jane talked us through the phenomenon that is the Foreign Language Spelling Bee, with the following as the basics:
o 1 minute competition
o Stage 1- Class competition
o Stage 2- School competition
o Stage 3 Regional competition
o Stage 4 National competition

The benefits of the the spelling bee are in terms of memory, phonics, pronunciation, alphabet and awareness of articles. In terms of the actual format on the day, the pupil stands with their back to the board, where the words are displayed. The teacher says the word in English, the pupil says it in the TL and then spells it in the TL alphabet. They spell as many possible in 1 minute. CVC's ML department runs it weekly with language student leaders (Year 9 pupils). They run training sessions, help organise the event and produce and manage the website.

Language on Film/Language from Film
This film-making project is another extra-curricular activity that the staff run for pupils at CVC. Expertise is brought in from the university with a group of teachers being trained up. Pupils need to approach this task exactly as the professionals would:
o Proposal and pitch
o Pre-production
o Production
o Post production
o Exhibition
In terms of other schools adapting this, it was suggested that it could take many different formats, eg collapsed curriculum, exchange day (in one language with subtitles in other language, making it periods 1-4 then watch them after lunch), with a lower ability group. I wonder if we could tie in to the Belfast Film Festival, maybe ask the A level Media Studies pupils to mentor re the technical side. Sarah has a DVD to show how to do it all and was happy to share with all.

This was one of the most inspiring yet most exhausting sessions I attended over the course of the two days. There were so many ideas here, yet it would be difficult to run them on a large scale without the support of an organisation such as Routes into Languages. I already knew how hard-working Rachel was, but to spend time in the company of these three ladies, as I had the opportunity to do on Friday, was to be awed, inspired and a little bit overcome. I asked Jane when she ate lunch, and she laughed..

I am unsure what we will take on board, I so want to do it all, yet bear in mind that my head was already buzzing from Rachel's previous talks and how we want to change our schemes of work. And there are other changes I want to make too, from other inspirational speakers. I'll keep you posted...

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