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New language report celebrates success of pioneering school projects

27 January 2020

Two successful initiatives pioneered at the School of Modern Languages have been cited as examples of best practice in a new report on language learning.

Cardiff University’s Languages for All and Modern Foreign Languages Mentoring schemes are two initiatives highlighted in the Higher Education Policy Institute’s (HEPI) January report entitled A Languages Crisis?

The report explores the current landscape for language learning in the UK and discusses what must be done to increase uptake of languages in schools and universities. It discusses the measures that are being taken across all regions of the UK to improve the issue and highlights those that are already proving fruitful in encouraging young people to be multilingual.

In the section of the report on Wales, the Modern Foreign Languages Mentoring scheme, which began in 2015, is discussed as an example of a higher education institute supporting schools by supplying language expertise from students and academics.

In partnership with Swansea, Bangor and Aberystwyth Universities, the project undertakes a nationwide approach to increasing inter-cultural understanding and promoting language learning at key stages. Student mentors undertake weekly mentoring and coaching sessions for their pupil mentees in small groups across the academic year. The team has achieved great success, working with nearly half of all secondary schools in Wales and partner schools have reported on average a doubling in the number of pupils choosing languages at GCSE, as well as improved motivation to continue studying and go to university.

The report also mentions the Languages for All programme which is based within the School of Modern Languages but is offered to all students across the university. Innovative in its design and modes of delivery, it is free and students can take weekly lessons or crash courses in languages, such as Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. The scheme has been offered at the university since 2014 and is open to all undergraduates and postgraduates.

Speaking of the report, Head of School, Professor Kate Griffiths said, “The inclusion of two of our projects in the HEPI report cements the School’s status as a leader in language learning in the UK. We are at the forefront of thinking to ensure that learning languages can happen at all stages of education for all young people regardless of social background or geographical location. Here at Cardiff, we value all languages and all language learners. We promote the enriching experiences and opportunities that learning languages brings.”

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