Florence Robson, ThirdYearAbroad.com

The #YearOverHere campaign aims to give language students – and their teachers – the opportunities to practise their skills while in the UK

There’s a certain exchange that almost everyone who’s learnt a language dreads. It goes something like this:

“So you speak Spanish / French / Japanese? That’s cool!”

“Oh, yeah, but I hardly ever get to practise so I’m sure I’ve pretty much forgotten it all!”

“But you’re fluent, right?”

“Um…”

This moment of discomfort will likely be painfully familiar to British linguists, but it’s detrimental in more ways than one. Not only are we guilty of underplaying our language skills but, worse than that, we let ourselves down by claiming that it’s impossible for us to practise and improve them.

It’s this problem that has inspired Third Year Abroad, in partnership with Routes into Languages, to launch the #YearOverHere campaign to raise awareness of intercultural opportunities within the UK and to demonstrate the value of learning a language.

The idea for the #YearOverHere campaign sprang from returning year-abroad students complaining that the lack of immersion meant they quickly lost their language skills once they were back in the UK. This new campaign aims to prove that it’s not only possible to use your languages every day in the UK, but that it can also be great fun to do so.

The #YearOverHere campaign aims to engage with young people, both at school and at university, in order to demonstrate the value of learning a language; to push international opportunities during degree study; to show them that languages can be fun, and to encourage a ‘year abroad attitude’ at home, as well as show that you don’t need to go abroad to meet new people, engage with other cultures or practise your language skills.

The languages promoted in the campaign are French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, Mandarin and Cantonese, in accordance with the HESA Student Record of the most studied languages by UK students in 2012/13.

Accessible to all

It will use a variety of approaches in order to make the campaign as engaging, wide-reaching and accessible as possible, including publishing listings of intercultural events taking place around the UK and language resources available to UK students on ThirdYearAbroad.com.

#YearOverHere will promote a wide variety of events, festivals, exhibitions and courses suitable for all age groups, from food festivals, book signings and dance workshops to wine tastings, musical performances and calligraphy. It aims to promote events right across the UK, so please do get in touch to let us know what’s going on in your area!

ThirdYearAbroad and Routes into Languages are also calling on their networks of students to get involved in the campaign throughout the year – sharing tips for ways to integrate languages and cultures into your life, publishing students’ articles and vlogs presenting a language guide to their local town or city, reviewing events listed, or offering advice for keeping up your language skills at home.

#YearOverHere is designed to counteract the concerns of students who say that they can’t afford to spend time abroad during their degree. It proves that, contrary to negative stereotypes, the UK is a flourishing hub of languages and cultures – we just need to learn to take advantage of the opportunities on our doorstep!

Studying or working abroad can make you the best version of yourself: a self who makes a conscious effort to make the most of every opportunity, to socialise with new people, to overcome fears and to
explore uncharted territory. We hope that the #YearOverHere campaign will encourage people to carry that attitude into their everyday lives.

#YearOverHere proves that, contrary to negative stereotypes, the UK is a flourishing hub of languages and cultures!

The #YearOverHere campaign will be running until the end of 2015 and we’d love you to get involved. Visit ThirdYearAbroad.com/yearoverhere to check out our listings, advice, articles and vlogs, and please do let us know about any language resources or events that we might have missed!

#YearOverHere – what you can do:

  • Talk to your students, colleagues, friends and family about all the ways you can use your languages here in the UK
  • Find out what’s going on near you by following #YearOverHere on Twitter, or by visiting: http://ThirdYearAbroad.com/yearoverhere
  • Let #YearOverHere know about any events, exhibitions, concerts, festivals, courses and so on happening in your area: http://tiny.cc/YearOverHere
  • Get staff, students and parents involved by arranging a class trip, educational visit or cultural event of your own!
  • Get in touch with your local ALL branch, network or hub, and arrange a social trip to a cultural event with other teachers
  • Immerse yourself in language and culture with the #YearOverHere Campaign!

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