World of Work - at the University of Surrey on 18 June 2012
Thursday 2 August 2012
On Monday 18 June, the School of English and Languages at the University of Surrey welcomed 124 Year 8/9 pupils and accompanying teachers for a day of talks, activities and language taster sessions. The event was sponsored by Routes into Languages and followed the tried and tested format of previous Languages Days. Registration for the event was, however, slightly different this year, as nearly all school registration came from interest via the Routes website. This meant that schools came from a much wider area than has previously been the case. In fact, registration was as high as 220 pupils at one stage, although we expected a number of schools would drop out which they did. This year we were pleased that the 8 schools expected on the day turned up (one school with a journey that took 2 hours to get to the University!) Schools were invited to bring up to 15 pupils and the following attended:
Harris Acadamy, Falconwood
St Edmund’s Girls’ School, Laverstock
Jubilee International High School, Addlestone
Desborough School, Maidenhead
Bishop Bell Cofe School, Eastbourne
Ifield Community College, Crawley
Rodborough Technology College, Milford
Guildford County School, Guildford
At registration, pupils were allocated a number to assist dividing into groups although as it worked out, we were neatly able to put 2 schools in each of the 4 language talks and one each in the language tasters.
In the initial morning session, everyone was welcomed by Dr Dawn Marley, Director of Learning and Teaching who gave an overview of language study at the University. This was followed by our popular language quiz using electronic voting buttons which is a useful tool to put languages in a global context.
Next up was the morning break with drinks and biscuits, also a highlight of our languages day. Student ambassadors helping at the event had artfully arranged platefuls of chocolate biscuits which disappeared within minutes.
After the break, pupils attended 2 talks out of a selection of four, with each speaker delivering their presentation twice. Talks were on the subject of Languages and the World of Work by
• Alex Pickering (Goethe Institute) with his Interactive International Language game showing how many international companies there are in our world today
• John Evans (European Commission) talking about Europe and the importance of languages for the working world
• Isabelle Esser (freelance translator) talking about opportunities for working with languages
• Catherine Slater (freelance translator) with a user-friendly talk referring to translation issues with Harry Potter books as well as exemplifying a football manager’s skills resulting from his interpreting work
A sandwich lunch was provided after the talks and we were fortunate that it was dry, despite the recent wet weather, so most groups were able to go outside for the lunch break with only one school opting to eat in the classroom. Unfortunately, the area near the Teaching Block offered little in the way of seating or views (with building work taking place nearby) so we will try to schedule sufficient time to move to somewhere more suitable for next year’s event (weather willing).
The lunch break is a good opportunity for teachers to talk with the organisers and other teachers as well as time to relax and take on sustenance.
After lunch, half the group was able to see our new facilities in the Learning Centre for taster language sessions, whilst the other half remained in the Teaching Block. Pupils attended 2 taster sessions from the following:
Chinese; Greek; Italian; Persian; Polish; Portuguese; Russian; Turkish
We ensured that each pupil had two contrasting sessions (eg Chinese and Italian). Three of the taster sessions (Persian, Polish and Turkish) were taken this year by postgraduate students from the Centre of Translation Studies and were very well received. Of particular interest was one pupil from Guildford County School whose father was Iranian. He was very keen to participate in the Persian taster and was looking forward to sharing what he had learned with his father. This was reflected in the “thank you card” from the school where the teacher said:
“Thank you very much for organising the World of Work event… The children had an extremely positive experience of languages in the “Real World” and they are still talking about it with their friends. My particular highlight of the day was seeing Tom, who is of Iranian heritage, having the opportunity to have a taster in Farsi and how kind the teacher was in offering to send him additional worksheets. Thank you once again!”
The language tasters always prove popular with the pupils and at the end of the two sessions, everyone re-grouped for a final session. By request from one of the schools, the student ambassadors were available to give brief descriptions of what they were studying, why they had chosen languages and a little about university life. It was pointed out that they were all post-graduate students from overseas as the British undergraduate students had finished for the term and left.
As part of the discussion and feedback at the end, it was heartening to hear that when pupils were asked what they had learned from the day, the first response was “How languages can help you with jobs”. Further feedback from the forms collected has also been very positive about the event, which we hope to repeat in summer 2013.
The World of Work Languages Day funded by Routes into Languages