Spotlight shone on language talent in Welsh Routes into Languages event
22 June 2015
Routes into Languages Cymru held a showcase event this month to highlight the variety of support available in Wales to encourage young people to learn new languages.
Routes into Languages Cymru is a collaborative outreach project that aims to increase the number of pupils choosing languages in University by offering a fun, pupil focussed programme of activities across the country. Cardiff University funds the project (together with Bangor, Aberystwyth and Cardiff Metropolitan universities and the British Council Wales) and its Academic Director is Professor Claire Gorrara, Head of the School of Modern Language.
The interactive showcase took place on 2 June 2015 at Cardiff University's Optometry Building and what better way to highlight the initiatives on offer than to hear from those who have been directly involved. The audience of over 80 invited guests were treated to a Spelling Bee session (from Welsh into French) by Millie James of Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Edern and a poetry reading from Emyr Davies of Llandrindod High School who had written a poem in French as part of the Routes into Languages Mother Tongue Other Tongue multi lingual poetry competition.
Former Cardiff University student Kate Samways then took to the stage to talk about her time as a Student Language Ambassador (SLA). Kate, who now works as a researcher for the BBC on The One Show, studied French and Italian in Cardiff and after her year abroad (which was part of her degree) decided to become a SLA for Routes into Languages Cymru.
Kate explained that SLAs are undergraduate students who are studying modern languages but want to share their passion for languages with others. As part of her ambassadorial role, Kate would speak about the benefits of languages at conferences, in schools and career fairs. She said, "I maybe working in the media but I still use languages now when I can. Just last week one of my colleagues asked me to speak to an Italian company to check some facts and figures for an item and I could pick up the phone and do that."
Kate also explained that without the SLA experience she would not have the confidence that she now has. Speaking to hundreds of Year 9 pupils about languages was a daunting experience but she now recalls it as "invaluable".
Looking to the year ahead, Routes into Languages Cymru will continue to deliver their flagship activities such as Student Language Ambassadors, Pupil Language Ambassadors, Adopt a Class (which links SLAs on their year abroad with classes back in Wales) and the Spelling Bee.
The Routes into Languages Cymru event coincided with the launch of the British Council and CfBT Education Trust's first national survey of modern foreign language (MFL) teaching in Welsh secondary schools – Language Trends Wales.
To find out more about the report please visit the British Council website.