On Wednesday 14th February 2018, 90 students from 5 of our Wirral Priority Schools (Bebington High Sports College, St John Plessington Catholic College, Ridgeway High, Prenton High School for Girls and Woodchurch High School) attended our first Shaping Futures Languages Day.
The day, held in honor of UNESCO International Mother Languages Day and hosted at the University of Liverpool, was designed to show students the benefits of learning languages and what opportunities can come from studying languages in higher education.
After disembarking from coaches into a snow flurry, students warmed up whilst watching a presentation delivered by our multilingual Project Assistants Aimee and Anthony. They outlined the transferrable skills that can be obtained by learning languages, shared their experiences of living abroad and gave some examples of careers available to language graduates.
The Year 9 and 10 students then had the chance to experience language taster sessions. First of all, there was an engaging Spanish session lead by lecturer Jordi Sanchez, who encouraged students to think about how Spanish is spoken globally, for example in Latin America, not only in Spain.
Next was a taster of life ‘à la française’, led by French lecturers Prof. Kate Marsh and Dr Rebecca Dixon. Here, students were able to consider stereotypes of French and how the country is perceived by the rest of the world, as well as a masterclass in analyzing French dress throughout the Second World War.
Finally students were able to learn about a language few have had the chance to study before: Chinese. Staff from the Confucius Institute taught students some basic phrases in Mandarin, as well as how to draw Chinese calligraphy on rice paper.
During a pause for lunch, we watched a show-stopping performing by the Salsa Society whose moves even convinced some of our students up to dance. It was a fantastic way to demonstrate some of the extra-curricular activities available in higher education.
We also had a languages activity zone where students had the opportunity to match foreign idioms, find out about celebrity language learners and guess Italian cultural references. A particular highlight of the day was having members of the Modern Foreign Languages Society and the British Sign Language (BSL) Society interacting with students so they could find out about language learning outside of the lecture theatre. Ellie, the hearing dog belonging to the president of the BSL society, was extremely impressed with how quickly our students learned to sign their names and greet each other in sign language!
After a jam-packed day of language learning, students left with a great insight into studying languages at higher education level and the different pathways and providers available. Given the success of the day, we are already planning how we can deliver the activity to more schools in partnership with other Shaping Futures partner institutions.
Blog post by Aimee Rigby, Shaping Futures Project Assistant
If you’d like to find out more, or would like Shaping Futures to provide a language event at your school/college please contact us!