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Languages in schools mentoring scheme honoured

8 November 2017

Threlford Cup
Professor Claire Gorrara, Academic Lead (right) and Lucy Jenkins, National Coordinator of the MFL Mentoring Project (left)

A unique mentoring scheme, designed to encourage language learning amongst young people in Wales, has been awarded the prestigious Threlford Cup by the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL).

The Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) Mentoring Scheme, which is led by Cardiff University’s School of Modern Languages, is funded by Welsh Government as part of its Global Futures plan which aims to improve and promote the take up of modern foreign languages in schools. 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.

The CIOL awards the Threlford Cup annually to an individual, organisation or project that has encouraged language learning in others.

This year, after nominations from external evaluator, Teresa Tinsley and South East Wales MFL consortium coordinator, Sioned Harold, the MFL Mentoring scheme was presented with the Threlford Cup by CIOL’s Royal Patron HRH Prince Michael of Kent GCVO at an award ceremony which took place at The Law Society in London.

Kirsty Williams AM

"We want all learners to have the ability to speak to people in other languages and to understand and appreciate their own and other cultures."

Kirsty Williams, Cabinet Secretary for Education

The scheme has achieved much success since it began in 2015, working with over a quarter of all secondary schools in Wales. MFL students from Cardiff, Swansea, Bangor and Aberystwyth Universities are trained as mentors and coaches. The student mentors are then partnered with schools in their respective areas and matched with Key Stage 3 mentees. Student mentors undertake weekly mentoring and coaching sessions for their pupil mentees in small groups across the academic year.

Over the last two years the mentoring scheme has had a significant impact on partner schools who have reported a marked increase in pupils choosing languages at GCSE as well as improved motivation to continue learning languages and to consider university.

Teresa Tinsley, who nominated the scheme, said: "This has been a win-win project. It has broadened horizons and built ambition in pupils and at the same time has provided university students with employability skills and experience to take into their working lives. It is always good to see universities working with schools and this project has been particularly well targeted and well organised. I am delighted to see this recognised nationally."

Professor Claire Gorrara, Professor of French in the University's School of Modern Languages and academic lead for the project, said: "To be honoured by the Chartered Institute of Linguists is a huge achievement for the MFL mentoring scheme..."

Claire Gorrara

"Welsh Government has been steadfast in their support that language learning should be supported at a key point in student choice when they choose their GCSEs here in Wales but to see our approach recognised on a national level is praise indeed."

Professor Claire Gorrara, Professor of French Studies

"Achieving recognition like this is fantastic but we are always developing new ways to improve the project so that it reaches more pupils across the country. We’re currently working on a digital platform to extend the project’s reach to pupils in more remote areas which is an exciting development and venture."

The Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams said: "We want all learners to have the ability to speak to people in other languages and to understand and appreciate their own and other cultures. The Modern Foreign Languages Mentoring Scheme is an excellent way of achieving this and I am pleased that Cardiff University has had the recognition it deserves for leading on this project as part of our Global Futures Plan."