10:07pm Wednesday 19 February 2020

Building language confidence


Lucy Price and Owain Jenkins, Cyfarthfa High School, with Student Ambassador Chaminda Seneviratne.

Around 200 Year 11 pupils have been at the University this week, immersing themselves in interactive activities as part of the annual Modern Languages Experience Week.


Run by the University’s Widening Access Team the Language Experience Days are designed around the Key Stage 4 curriculum. The Week offers students the chance to practise their language skills, build their confidence, increase their cultural awareness of the languages they are studying, and gain an insight into the benefits of studying languages and the career opportunities available to linguists.

Interactive workshops, based on syllabus-related topics such as travel, the world of work and the environment, helped to immerse the students in the target language. They were supported by a group of Language Ambassadors made up of University Erasmus students and language students studying at Cardiff University’s School of European Studies

Lucy Price from Cyfarthfa High School in Merthyr, who is studying French at GCSE and took part in the day, said: “This has been such a worthwhile experience. I’ve been able to spend time practising with native French speakers, which is quite different to learning in the classroom. I could feel my confidence growing as the day went on.”

Rachel Shelton, a French Teacher at Cyfarthfa High School, said: “At a time when numbers of young people opting to study modern foreign languages is in decline, opportunities such as these are invaluable in helping to get across how useful languages can be. An added benefit of these events is that the pupils get the chance to experience life at university for a day.”

The Modern Languages Experience Week is just one of a number of initiatives run by Cardiff University’s Widening Access Team to raise aspirations and promote higher education to traditionally under-represented groups.

Ruth Meighan, Widening Access Officer at the University, said: “We have been running the language workshops for several years. We are not only looking to raise aspirations among traditionally under-represented groups, but also want to show students the benefits of studying modern foreign languages at A-Level and beyond by demonstrating how important languages are and how useful they can be in a wide range of careers and professions.”

Schools attending the Modern Languages Experience Week include Cantonian High School; Aberdare Girls’ School; Rhymney Comprehensive School; Ebbw Vale Comprehensive School, Cyfarthfa High School; St Cenydd School, Barry Comprehensive School; Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School; Hawthorn High School; Blackwood Comprehensive School; and Abersychan School.

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