Three Nottingham schools have been trialling a new way of getting pupils as young as 14 and 15 hooked on studying languages through to A Level and University.
Rushcliffe School, The Farnborough Academy and Arnold Hill Academy – which together make up The Trent Academies Group – have paired up with the University of Nottingham to give Year 10 students a flavour of what studying languages to degree level can offer them.
The three academies took 60 of their aspiring linguists, currently in their first year of GCSEs, on a visit to the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies at the university. These types of visits do not usually happen until Year 12 when students are close to making their university applications.
Maria Collins, Executive Assistant Head at Rushcliffe School, said: “The earlier we can get the pupils in our schools thinking about where their talents can lead them the better. This visit really opened their eyes to what languages can offer.”
The students were given taster sessions in Italian and Russian, a tour of campus, and they also heard first hand from undergraduates what it’s like to study languages at university and where that can take you in the future.
22-year-old Evie Ross, who has just completed her finals in Spanish and Portuguese, spoke to the students about her languages path; about how she was a beginner in Portuguese when she started university and about her year abroad working in Barcelona and then Brazil.
She said: “People always think languages are just for jobs in teaching or translation but they set you up for many different careers. I’m moving to Rio de Janeiro in September to be an operations manager for a charity. Other languages students I know have got jobs in marketing, insurance, finance, all sorts.”
Pupils from the three schools were impressed with what they heard. 15-year-old Noel Chamberlain from The Farnborough Academy said: “The trip really let us know what you can do with languages and what opportunities they can give you.”
Jacob Simpson, also aged 15, from Rushcliffe School, said: “It taught me that languages can take us down many career paths, not solely language- based careers and that speaking other languages gives us an ‘edge’ in the employment world. I will definitely be considering it in the future.”
Elodie Cavill, from Arnold Hill Academy, added: “I learnt what a year abroad entails and that it is possible to add languages to most degrees.”
Tara Webster-Deakin, Widening Participation and Outreach Manager at the University of Nottingham, said: “There is a national picture of decline in the take up of languages from 14 upwards and I hope that this visit has demonstrated not only how important languages are for careers but also how much fun languages are to study.”