Tag: European Day of Languages

French at Stirling Language Ambassadors at Wallace High

Every year, French at Stirling students are invited out into local schools to act as Language Ambassadors, to talk to school pupils about the benefits (and challenges) of studying languages at University and the opportunities it offers. This year is no different and a group of our Year 3 and 4 students (Stefano, Heatherlea, Natalie, Meg and Eilidh) were invited to Wallace High in September for their annual activities organised around the European Day of Languages. As ever, it was a fantastic experience for both our students and the pupils at Wallace High, as the students themselves can explain for better than I can. As Stefano says:

‘Studying languages is not only very useful nowadays, but it can also entail a lot of fun! This was certainly the main message we all tried (and perhaps even managed) to convey for this year’s Languages Day at Wallace High School, in Stirling. So, what was it exactly all about?

On Friday 21 September, a group of five students from our University, myself included, acted as Language Ambassadors at one of the key events organised by the Wallace High School in Stirling, not far at all from our beautiful campus; we were there to show, talk about and share our experiences in relation to the study of languages in order to encourage S3 pupils to undertake this amazing multilingual learning path. Our main role was indeed to promote how beautiful, rewarding and mind-opening studying one or two extra languages can be.

From the moment we arrived at the school, we could really feel the enthusiasm of teachers and pupils alike and the excitement for the activities to come over the afternoon. Before the main workshops started, we all had the chance to attend the welcome reception in the main hall where one former pupil has delighted the audience with his passionate stories of learning, travelling and teaching across most Asian countries thanks to his commitment to languages.

As Language Ambassadors, we were then asked to run a series of quick workshops with eight different groups of 18-20 pupils at a time, each lasting around 10 minutes. In this way we managed to talk to a significant number of S3 pupils, being able to both present our stories and answer any questions they might have. Since the five of us represented a cohort of university students who had either just come back from a semester abroad (to a French and/or Spanish-speaking country) or are preparing to go for next semester, we were all able to share our first-hand experiences on how empowering the study of languages can be; by covering topics from great perspective career options to exotic journey destinations, all the workshops gave us the possibility to encourage students to pursue a multilingual curriculum both at the secondary and university levels.

We all had something to share: a story to tell, an experience to present or even some fun-facts about the different idioms we could speak. And this resulted in a very pleasant afternoon for all the people involved.

So, it is true; studying languages does open doors in ways sometimes we are not even able to foresee. As I said during the workshops, being Italian myself and knowing different languages has made my presence and my contribution at Wallace High possible and I certainly had a lot of fun there; once you start studying a language, where is no limit to where you could end up being, trust me!’

Heatherlea adds: ‘For me, it was really enriching to share my experience of learning a language and all of its benefits with the future generation. To know that I, and my peers, may have had an impact on just one person is truly touching. It was also really great for me to learn about the fourth years’ various experiences whilst studying abroad as my own semester in France is fast approaching!’

And Natalie explains: ‘As a Student Language Ambassador, I recently had the opportunity to participate in the S3 Languages Day at Wallace High School. The event which takes place every year aims to promote both the importance and fun of language learning. Throughout the afternoon, we conducted a series of short workshops aimed at third year pupils to discuss the advantages of learning a new language, our personal experiences of living abroad and we even had the opportunity to test their language skills! Furthermore, we were also able to learn about their own experiences abroad and their hopes for the future after high school.

We found that the pupils were extremely interested to hear about language learning from a different perspective that included real life experiences. In addition, they asked many questions and they were also surprised to find out that learning a language has allowed us to travel to a wide range of places. Moreover, I was thrilled to hear that so many pupils at Wallace High School are already thinking about studying another language beyond high school and for those who had not yet considered it, we hope that our presentative has given them some food for thought.

Overall, the European Languages Day at Wallace High School was an excellent afternoon and I would love to take part in this experience again!’

Many thanks to Stefano, Natalie, Heatherlea, Meg and Eilidh for their help with this and to Mrs Bell and her pupils at Wallace High for the warm welcome.

 

 

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Happy European Day of Languages!

Once again, the annual European Day of Languages has given us a fantastic excuse to paint a picture of the multilingual student community we have across our modules in French at Stirling, from Semester 1 (Beginners and Advanced) all the way through to final year. Our students come from many, many different places and it’s always fascinating to get a sense of just how many languages they speak. This year, as well as French (obviously), we also have speakers of: Scots Gaelic and Irish Gaelic, Spanish, German, Russian, Catalan, Basque, Arabic, Dutch, Italian, Chinese, Finnish, Swedish, Japanese, (modern) Greek, Latin, Romanian, Croatian, Polish, Portuguese, Farsi…

Tapadh Leat, Go raibh maith agat, gracias, merci, Danke, Спасибо большое, gràcies, eskerrikasko, شكرا, Dank je wel, grazie, 谢谢,kiitos, tack, ありがとう, Ευχαριστώ, Gratias ago, mulțumesc, hvala, dziękuję, obrigado, مرسی… to all those who got in touch to let me know which languages they speak and a very Happy European Day of Languages to everyone!

(And, of course, if you’re reading this as a French at Stirling student and your language isn’t yet on the list, get in touch…)

Language Ambassadors: ‘A great experience I’d love to do again!’

Time for a mid-semester blog catch-up… As was mentioned in an earlier blog post, a number of our students have been out in local schools acting as Language Ambassadors again this semester. Rhiannon Quinn who is in the 2nd year of a BA Hons in French was part of a small group of students who spent an afternoon at a local high school at the end of September and she has sent us this great account of the day.

“I recently went to Wallace High School, located right next to the university, to take part in their European Languages Day and to talk to them about my experiences in studying modern languages. When I was at school, European Languages Day was well celebrated with all different kinds of activities and fun things to do and I wanted the third-year kids to have the same experiences I did. As there was a few of us from the university we managed to split the classes into small groups of about five, so that each pupil could have the chance to be heard and have a real personal chat with us.

It was very interesting to see how many of the children were interested in studying languages and they seemed to be very relaxed when talking to us and were very confident in giving us their opinions. They seemed to be very intrigued when I told them that I would have the opportunity to go abroad and live in a foreign country as part of my degree to which I informed them that if they gave languages a chance, they could definitely have that experience too. A few of the children even knew people in their own families who did semesters abroad and they were able to tell me about it.

Even though there were kids who weren’t that keen on languages, they still gave their input and even told me what they wanted to be when they were older. One thing in particular I noticed was that every single one of the kids were able to tell me multiple French and Spanish films they had seen, which I told them was a good thing and doing things like that will help you improve and that you can have fun while learning languages and it’s not just all work and memorising.

Everyone at Wallace High School was really nice, teachers and pupils, and they made us feel extremely welcome. They even gave us a card and a box of chocolates at the end as a thank you gift. They were extremely complimentary and overall, it was a great experience which I would love to do again.”

Apologies to Rhiannon for the delay in getting this post online but thank you very much for taking the time to send it to us and for your work as a Language Ambassador.

European Day of Languages: Student Ambassadors at Wallace High

As part of our activities to celebrate the European Day of Languages, three of our current final year students (Ellen Ingram, Charlotte Cavanagh and David Vescio) went along to local secondary school Wallace High to talk to pupils and teachers there about studying languages at University. Here’s their account of the day:

“To commemorate European Languages Day 2016, we went along to Wallace High School to promote the benefits of language learning to the pupils. Having all had a ball working and studying abroad, we were keen to talk to the pupils and encourage them to stick in with their modern language studies.

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The school organised many different workshops, speakers and activities throughout the building across different departments, including a French cuisine sample session arranged by the Home Economics department. Our workshop was designed to work with small groups of students and tell them about the opportunities that learning a language have opened for us. Working in small groups allowed the students to ask us questions and also tell us their ideas about their future and if learning a language would be part of their plan.

For Ellen, it was particularly good to “hear the thoughts of the different pupils and it was interesting to hear how many of them felt that language learning might enhance their job opportunities in the future. Many pupils told me that they would like to be able to speak another language but they find their language classes very difficult. Having studied French since high school, I have been through (and I am still going through) the struggle of language classes and the difficulty in grasping certain concepts, so I hope that I encouraged them to be tenacious and power through. In my opinion, the biggest piece of encouragement that I gave the students was that language allows you to travel. I told them about my experience working as a language assistant in France and my study abroad semester in Quebec and how I would not have been able to do those things without studying French. We talked about all the places that you can go if you have a basic understanding or even a few words of French and Spanish to show that there is more to learning these languages than just visiting France and Spain.

I really hope that I have inspired some of the pupils to continue learning a modern language and that they can see the benefits that I have gotten out of learning French and the experiences that I have had. To this day I still find learning French very difficult but it is my love for the language and my interest in experiencing other cultures that make it worthwhile.”

For Charlotte, “as a subject that means a lot to me, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to talk to the pupils of Wallace High School to promote the study of languages. What struck me the most was that although many pupils liked the idea of learning another language, they were put off by the idea that it takes a lot of time and effort to master and that they found learning languages extremely challenging. I really enjoyed discussing these thoughts and concerns with pupils, and I hope that by sharing my own stories I have reassured them that although learning a language is not easy, there are so many advantages to studying languages and that it can provide them with so many opportunities.”

David is planning a career in secondary teaching when he graduates so, for him, “it was fascinating both to talk with individual teachers and prospective language students, as well as to try to engage with pupils with no interest in languages whatsoever. Although they were quiet at first, some eventually started asking questions and I could see that they knew there was something to gain. I loved trying to explain to the pupils how languages gave me the opportunity to travel as well as meet new people. Although I thought that speaking of my own experience would not captivate the pupils’ attentions at first, I eventually noticed a spark of interest and one question led to many more. I think what it really showed me was that the pupils see a language only as an academic subject rather than a way to communicate. This truly opened my eyes as to how teachers not only have to teach a language but also have to engage the students. I left the school more determined than ever to become a teacher!”

Thanks to Ellen, Charlotte and David for having given up their afternoon to meet with the Wallace High pupils and staff and for this blog post. We’re hoping to continue to develop our connections with schools in the local area and beyond over the weeks and months ahead so, if you happen to be reading this as a secondary or primary Languages teacher, do feel free to get in touch!

What languages do our students speak?

Following on from the earlier Happy European Day of Languages post, I was curious to find out how many different languages are spoken by French at Stirling students so, earlier this afternoon, I sent out an email asking just that question. I’ll update the list as the day goes on but, so far, as well as English and French, we have: Spanish, German, Swedish, Afrikaans, Hungarian, Romanian, Italian, Arabic, Danish, Croatian, Polish, Russian, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean plus other students currently learning combinations of all those languages… I look forward to expanding the list over the rest of the day! Thanks to all those who have already replied (merci, gracias, Danke, tack, dankie, kösz, mersi, grazie, tak, shukran/شكر, hvala, dzięki, благодаря, ありがとう, cảm ơn, 감사…).

[Just a quick follow-up to the multilingual picture that emerged through the responses from students to add this link to an article about the top languages for the highest-paid jobs in the UK. Thanks to Aedín for passing it on!]

Happy European Day of Languages!

Lots of things happening already in this new semester: meetings with local Modern Languages teachers, buddying schemes being set up, French Film Festival screenings coming to the MacRobert, more tales of the experiences of our current students and recent graduates… More on all of this and much more to come over the next day or two but, in the meantime, a very Happy European Day of Languages to you all!

First Day Back

Today is the first day of the new academic session at Stirling. To those starting out on our Semester 1 modules, whether in our ‘Advanced’ stream or as a Beginner, welcome to French at Stirling and we’re looking forward to getting to know you over the semesters ahead.

To those returning to Years 2, 3 or 4, welcome back. We hope you’ve had a good Summer and, for those just back from English Language Assistantships or Semester 6 Abroad, we’re looking forward to hearing all about it.

As ever, we’re also welcoming visiting students from a range of different places so whether you’re a Francophone Erasmus student or a non-Francophone exchange student taking some of our modules, we hope you enjoy your time with us. We’d also like to welcome this year’s cohort of students from Passau on our International Management and Intercultural Studies integrated Master’s programme and, this year, we’re also welcoming our first group of students on our Translation and Interpreting double degree with Hebei Normal University in China.

Alongside our undergraduate students, it’s also the start of the new academic year for students taking our Translation TPG programmes with French and for some new PhD students, working under the supervision of French at Stirling colleagues. More about them very soon but, in the first instance, welcome (back!) to Stirling.

Plenty more news to share about events coming up this semester, from French Film Festival screenings in partnership with the MacRobert to European Day of Languages celebrations and much else besides but we wanted to post a rentrée message before the day is out! More blog posts to follow soon…