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Towards a strategy for promoting languages through cross-sector collaboration Erasmus Students as foreign language assistants (FLAs) Keith Marshall UW.

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Presentation on theme: "Towards a strategy for promoting languages through cross-sector collaboration Erasmus Students as foreign language assistants (FLAs) Keith Marshall UW."— Presentation transcript:

1 Towards a strategy for promoting languages through cross-sector collaboration Erasmus Students as foreign language assistants (FLAs) Keith Marshall UW Bangor and CILT Cymru 6 th May 2005

2 Checking up on need for FLAs CILT Cymru survey of British Council FLA scheme in schools in Wales (2002/3) Responses from 42% of state schools

3 FLAs any use? Considered ‘vital’ ‘invaluable’ by teachers Uses cited Preparation of pupils for oral exams Cultural discovery/ enhancement for pupils Preparation of up-to-date teaching resources with teachers Helping teachers maintain & improve their language fluency Cross-curricular use with other departments (history/geography)

4 FLA presence in schools Decline of 8.6% in British Council FLA numbers across UK (1995-99) Numbers of FLA’s steady in Wales (1999- 2002) BUT only 58% of state school in Wales had an FLA (2002-3) Very uneven distribution At least on in all Cardiff schools None in Gwynedd, Anglesey

5 Reasons for low numbers Almost exclusively financial Pressure on staff budgets makes posts renewed annually very vulnerable Once removed, post very difficult to reinstate 91% of respondents without FLA said they would like one

6 Alternatives to annual FLA appointments In House alternatives Native speaker teachers Volunteer native speakers parents Neither adequate UK HEIs as source of alternative FLAs Rising numbers of students from outside UK From non-EU states: fee-paying From EU states: Full-degree and Erasmus students

7 Specific UK HEIs providing alternative FLAs Manchester Glamorgan Bangor And others…?

8 Manchester Sharing voices In operation since 2002 Native language speakers of French, German, Spanish working with pupils in local schools Outstandingly successful: winner of a European Languages Award (2005)

9 Glamorgan Final year module In operation for 10 years Designed to train native speakers employed as FLAs Means of enhancing assistantships rather than increasing numbers Plans for piloting ab-initio teaching of MFL by Erasmus students through Peer Tutoring in local schools

10 Bangor Organisation of scheme Collaboration between UWB &CILT Cymru Introduced 2004-5 Voluntary/ no salary Travel expenses paid by schools

11 Recruitment Invitation sent to Erasmus students in summer 2004 Selection process 500-word piece on why they want to do it Interview by UWB & CILT Cymru Staff Certificate of good conduct/clean police record obtained from civil service in native country

12 Selection of schools Invitation to MFL HoDs within travelling distance Allocation of FLAs on first-come- first-served basis

13 Participants German: 9 French : 1 Hours of work per volunteer: 4 Preparation Introductory evening for FLAs & teachers Training day laid on for British Council FLAs

14 Benefits for pupils Understanding a native speaker Hearing colloquial oral abbreviations Singing German songs Talking about German history and current affairs Broadening pupils’ world view Cultural studies and comparisons Talking with ‘young hip people’ from Germany in their language

15 Benefits for volunteers Experience of teaching in a different social & cultural context Talking to teachers about their work in the UK Coping with occasional emergencies: running Year 8 class for absent teacher Insights into different mentalities of pupils in another country Helping volunteers to decide whether to enter teaching profession None want to do so in UK

16 Problems and limitations Inexact match of languages of Erasmus students and those taught in schools Uneven and unpredictable supply of volunteer FLAs Not reasonable to ask volunteers to do more than 4 hrs/week Only asked to work with 6 th formers Clashes between school & university timetables Obtaining police clearance from other countries Ensuring volunteers are not out of pocket Travel to schools up to 50 miles away Danger that cheap volunteers will replace British Council FLAs Attempt to extend scheme to Toulouse FLE Maitrise students needing classroom practice collapsed

17 Future plans Voluntary scheme in process of being approved as an accredited module for 2005-6 5 credit value in ECTS In addition to, not in place of, voluntary scheme Should ease pressure on departments flooded by Erasmus Tentative discussions with colleagues in other Welsh HEIs to spread practice

18 En somme… Erasmus students not a total replacement for British Council FLA scheme in UK schools HOWEVER Demonstration of their value could encourage school management to invest in ‘full-time’ FLAs long-term An excellent way for HEIs to build positive relationships local schools, with additional FLAs if necessary In words of one volunteer ‘Everybody wins’


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