Eva shared some of the secrets that led the Languages Department at her school, King Edward VII School in Sheffield, to be central to all school developments:
Faculty and whole-school systems:
Good systems for monitoring and evaluation
Strong development planning
Importance of ethos
Real commitment from the leadership team: option choices discussed individually and every student is interviewed
The strategy is that to opt out of languages, students need to be interviewed by the Headteacher with their parents. Students do not opt in, they are expected to study languages unless they are willing to explain why they should not.
What can we do as a department/Faculty:
Providing a stimulating learning experience at KS3
Offer courses that cater for different interests, needs and encourage participation
Raise the profile by taking part in a wide range of activities
School management will be convinced by “The Vision”: how does the Faculty’s vision support the ethos of the school?
Taking an active part in developing the International dimension across the curriculum
Promote a prestigious image
Languages as a way to promote Social inclusion: class and gender
Languages support the development of Citizenship
Languages contribute to employability, indirectly by the qualities and attributes developed by language learners and directly by offering students opportunities to work abroad and within international organisations.
The Action at Faculty level consists of monitoring the uptake within the option blocks, offering new courses, proving and/or supporting career guidance, providing students incentives like visits and enrichment activities.
Counteract negative comments
Use “Engrish websites” like this one to show that not everybody speaks English as we know it. “What they are trying to say does not come across as what you hear” and you only know that if you speak another language…
Join up with the coolest departments in school and get the coolest teachers to promote languages.
Remember that Languages are a medium so we can join up with any subjects…
A Visit programme can be a strong incentive for non-specialists to support languages, with cross-curricular links being developed.
Comenius project are a great opportunity to develop cross-curricular links. E.g. graphic design as a political tool (historical/ propaganda posters)
Languages can help raise achievement in other subjects too through CLIL.
Parents should be kept informed and involved as much as possible e.g. judging competition
To finish with, Eva showed us the “Football, the Universal Language” video. Inspirational!