By Gavin Mackintosh-
The University of York has been selected to run the British government’s new “centre of excellence” for modern foreign languages.
The highly respected institution will be the U.k’s national language centre, becoming a base for raising the quality of language teaching. It follows an announcement by The Department for Education last summer that £4.8m will be spent on a language centre of excellence with 9 hubs set up to spread best practise.
Cardiff University has been chosen to run a mentoring project to encourage pupils to take up languages at G.C.S.E across 10 schools. The announcement will be welcomed by the Teaching Schools Council’s modern foreign language pedagogy review led by head teacher and linguist Ian Bauckham, and a flurry of activity by the government to try to boost MFL uptake in schools. The Department Of Education expects the new Centre for Excellence for Languages Pedagogy to raise the standard of teaching in languages based on the Latin alphabet, like French, Spanish and Germ
Schools minister Nick Gibb said York had demonstrated it “had the vision and expertise to be at the forefront of the work to improve the way foreign languages are taught in schools, and increase the take-up of languages at GCSE”. Last September, the Department Of Education offered a £100,000 contract for a company to run the language mentoring project as part of a fresh drive to encourage pupils to think globally. That drive is truly on its way to expanding the learning and cosmopolitan skills of British pupils for the first time in many decades.
Research shows that the expansion of language is good to the development of the brain, and can actually contribute to creating more intelligent genes through present day pupils for the next generation.
Modern foreign language students at English universities are now being set up to mentor and discuss the opportunities languages can offer year 9 pupils. They are expected to make a choice about which subject to study at GCSE. The English Baccalaureate, introduced in 2010, requires pupils to take at least one language at G.C.S.E, but this has done little to boost the level of sign ups to language courses by pupils.
Cardiff University’s “language horizons” mentoring project will see it work with 200 year nine pupils in south Yorkshire, in partnership with Sheffield University and Sheffield Hallam University.
The pupils will be matched with university students for six weeks of online and face-to-face mentoring “to inspire these pupils to take up languages at G.C.S.E level and beyond”, the DfE said.