In the lead up to national Volunteers’ Week (01 – 07 June), a Language Futures Teacher Taster session took place at Linton Village College on 24 May. This was a chance for Linton Village College to showcase the Language Futures approach which they have been running successfully since 2009. Teachers who attended the session were able to observe a live Language Futures lesson, complete with mentors supporting pupils. Attendees then had the opportunity to take part in a Q and A session with the mentors they had observed and Siobhan Judge, the Language Futures coordinator at the school. Ann Swarbrick, the Language Futures Schools Adviser, also gave a detailed overview of the Language Futures initiative and how to get your school ‘Language Futures ready’.
A core feature of the Language Futures approach is to offer personalised support to pupils by mentors – volunteers with an in-depth knowledge and fluency in a particular language, recruited to provide good models of the language and to advise students on language and learning tasks in the classroom. Linton Village College have succeeded in recruiting mentors from the local community who have become an integral and powerful part of the Language Futures initiative running at the school.
Jenny Colgan (a school parent and Swedish national) explained that to her “it feels rewarding when you explain something and the pupils go ‘ah, that’s why’”. Noriko Sasaki (a school parent and Japanese speaker) said that she knows “how difficult Japanese is” and “would like to encourage children to learn Japanese and about the culture.” Both mentors don’t have any formal teaching qualifications but have the enthusiasm to share their language with others and facilitate the learning process. Nikola Baumgarten (a local community mentor) summarised the key to the approach by saying “I don’t give them the answer but I show them an example. I make sure they discover it themselves by getting them to ask questions.” Encouraging pupils to take ownership of their learning is a key aim of Language Futures.
For further advice on mentoring, please explore our Building Schools’ Capacity resources. If you would like to get involved in this exciting approach to language learning, please contact Clodagh Cooney, Language Futures Project manager.