University expanding scheme to increase take-up of modern languages

Nottingham Trent University is expanding a successful programme which it designed to encourage pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to take a foreign language at GCSE level.

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University to expand language project
Since 2004, when Government legislated to make languages optional in secondary schools, the UK has not been producing sufficient languages graduates.

Mirella Santamaria, Project Manager of Routes into Languages East Midlands

Nottingham Trent University is expanding a successful programme which it designed to encourage pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to take a foreign language at GCSE level.

The news comes in the week of a major national conference focusing on how to increase participation in foreign languages at schools and universities – an area in which Nottingham Trent University is bucking the national trend and seeing an increase in the take-up of languages rather than a decline.

In 2008, Nottingham Trent University designed its Bespoke Language Programme as part of the East Midlands project of the national Routes into Languages programme which it leads in partnership with other universities in the region.

The Bespoke programme specifically targets under 16-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds and encourages Year 9 and 10 pupils from schools across the region to consider taking a foreign language GCSE, primarily in French or German, while also allowing them to experience university life in an effort to raise their educational aspirations.

So far the results have been dramatic with the Bespoke Programme achieving a 95% success rate in the uptake of GCSE French and German among participants.

From the end of January, the University is expanding this to AS and A-level students to encourage them to take a language at degree level.

Mirella Santamaria MBE, Project Manager of Routes into Languages East Midlands, said the success of the Bespoke Language Programme was down to combining the expertise of the University's Modern Languages department and its Schools, Colleges and Community Outreach team to work with pupils.

She said: "The reality is that since 2004, when Government legislated to make languages optional in secondary schools, the UK has not been producing sufficient languages graduates to meet the need of UK businesses, and this is having an impact on the UK's ability to export, while resulting in losses of billions of pounds per year to commerce. The Post-16 Bespoke Programme aims to mitigate this."

Today, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) holds a major national conference focusing on what can be done to encourage the take up of languages at schools and universities. The organisation's figures show that during the past five years there has been a 5.7% drop in the number of students taking a modern language course at university.

The same figures show Nottingham Trent University is bucking that national trend and has seen a 61% rise in the number of students on its modern language courses during the same period.

And the Nottingham Trent University Language Programme, which offers courses in languages such as Arabic, Japanese and Spanish to both staff, students and the public, saw a rise in student numbers of 23% between 2013-14 and 2014-15.

Mirella Santamaria said: "Routes into Languages at Nottingham Trent University has gone from strength to strength since the creation of the Pre-16 Bespoke Language Programme. Drawing from its success, a Post-16 French and Mandarin Bespoke Programme will be launched on 27 January 2015 in partnership with the French and Chinese embassies in London."

Routes into Languages nationally has five key aims, with one key aim being to raise the aspirations of students in secondary school and higher education to help widen access to language study across a broader range of students from different backgrounds.

It is an area in which Nottingham Trent University's success has attracted national attention, with the University holding training sessions to help other project managers from across the country on targeting this area.

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University expanding scheme to increase take-up of modern languages

Published on 3 December 2014
  • Category: Press office

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