Partnership working encourages pupils to learn languages

Learning foreign languages opens up jobs and travel opportunities around the world: that’s the message being given to school pupils across south west Wales by a new partnership between the education consortium ERW and Swansea University.

Student mentoring schemes and a pupil conference are amongst the activities which the new partnership is delivering.  

The work is timely as the Welsh Government has recently set out new plans to get more people studying languages, which Education Minister Huw Lewis described as “one of the most important skills a young person can acquire to compete for jobs in the global economy”.

Swansea University is working alongside ERW.   The University’s languages department offers opportunities to study French, German, Spanish, Italian, Mandarin and Catalan.

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Picture:  over 200 pupils from over 40 schools attended a recent conference about languages

Conference for over 200 pupils:

A Pupil Language Ambassador conference, organised in collaboration between ERW and Swansea University, was held at the Swansea Bay campus, where more than 230 pupils from 44 schools across ERW (Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire, Powys and Swansea) attended.

Discussions are now under way for pupils from these schools to visit the University for a taste of further study and future opportunities.

See more pictures from the conference

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Picture:  Pupils speaking at the conference - more pictures

Student mentoring of school pupils

Four languages undergraduates from Swansea University have been trained in Cardiff University to coach and mentor year 8 and 9 pupils in schools across Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Carmarthenshire with the aim of raising aspirations about their future and increasing their confidence to study a modern language to GCSE level.  It is part of the Welsh Government’s Student Mentoring Initiative.

Dr Greg Herman from the languages department at Swansea University said:

“This is a fantastic opportunity, not only for Swansea students looking to gain classroom experience, but especially for Welsh school pupils. Projects such as this are essential to provide pupils with the motivation to continue their language studies on a longer-term basis. More importantly the confidence gained from such projects will bring significant wider benefits to the pupils’ studies and development. ”

Student Language Ambassador project

‌ERW’s Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) Regional Co-ordinator, Anna Vivian Jones, has also been working with the Swansea Employability Academy and the University's International Development Office to train students to become language ambassadors in schools – with students ranging from a French-speaking aerospace engineer to an African business undergraduate.

Anna Vivian Jones of ERW said:

“The aim of this project is to inform pupils and parents about enhanced career opportunities gained by learning a language and also about the increased employability of young people having spent a period of time in another country,”.

 The students are being recruited from the University’s Employability Academy, who together with the International Development Office, will participate in the training led by ERW.  Students will be accredited for their work placements in schools.

Selfie at Berlin Wall Picture:  selfies at the Berlin Wall.  Languages students at Swansea go abroad for a year to improve their language skills and learn about another culture

Lucy Williams of the University’s Swansea Employability Academy said:

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Swansea’s International Development Office and ERW to deliver the Ambassador project.

It enables us to not only further boost Swansea students’ employability skills in terms of working in education but also to showcase to school pupils - potential University students - the benefit to students who learn a modern foreign language and gain work experience within different countries.”

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Study languages at Swansea University