Yesterday, our lecturers and language tutors did what they do best: inspiring young people to study languages.
We organised the ‘Opening Doors’ day of activities for school students in collaboration with CILT Cymru’s ‘Routes into Languages’ project. The project is funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales to encourage the study of languages in Welsh schools, and so increase enrolment in language degrees.
‘Opening Doors’ was aimed at pupils from Wales aged around 14-17. Nearly 240 students from 12 schools registered. Some minibuses drove well over an hour to get here. They came to get a taste of learning new languages, to get reinforcement for languages they are learning at school – which fewer and fewer of them are – and to hear what studying languages at university is like, and why they should consider it.
Nigel T. Packer (Business for Business Internet Marketing Ltd) gave an inspiring opening talk about the importance of language skills in the globalised economy. Pupils and teachers then sampled a selection of taster classes, sessions on the year abroad (with some of our newly returned students), and on subjects such as new language technologies, interpreting, European cinema, German Popmusik, and global varieties of French. Careers advisors and teachers met up with our recruitment and admissions staff.
There was a neat closing of the circle over lunch. A teacher from Neath Port Talbot College described one of her colleagues as a ‘beacon of light for German in south west Wales’. This colleague, it turns out, has a BA in German from Swansea University. A timely reminder for us of our department’s crucial role in producing language teachers for Wales, to help the next generation of Welsh linguists on its way.
Many thanks to the organisers and all involved. The day was a great success.