Reflections on the Language Futures Conference and the Welsh multilingual Spelling Bee final

I attended the first day of the LLAS Higher Education Language Futures Conference in Edinburgh recently. It was a really inspiring day with so much interesting input about what is going on in languages in HE and, as always, it was great to meet up with old friends.

I chaired a couple of sessions – firstly Liz Andersen and Nick Johnston from the Routes into Languages North East team talked about the development of the student language ambassador module at Newcastle University and then Sarah Schechter and Mary Brittain from Routes into Languages East and East Midlands presented findings from a sustainability audit, which covered a range of themes, including the contribution of Routes into Languages to the student experience and employability in languages and the role of Routes in widening participation and fair access (the full sustainability report is available here –  www.routesintolanguages.ac.u/impact). The second session I chaired involved Fiona Graham from the European Commission who drew attention to the role of, and demand for, translators in the Commission. Fiona was followed by Anne Marie Graham who reported on research she has been doing for Routes into Languages examining public service interpreting and translating provision in English HE. She also presented a new website, which will be a repository and community of practice for teaching and learning materials in PSIT – http://www.psit.org.uk/.

Afternoon plenary sessions included Ros Mitchell from Southampton University who spoke about residence abroad for languages students in a globalised world – she was referring to an ongoing research study, which looks as though it has fascinating findings about linguistic progress and the use of the target language in different settings. The day’s proceedings finished with a really informative presentation on language policy in Scotland by Sarah Breslin, Director of Scottish CILT. The languages picture in Scotland is looking optimistic at the moment with the new 2+1 policy for primary schools.

All good stuff – I was only sorry not to be able to stay for the second day. Conference presentations will appear here soon: http://www.llas.ac.uk/events/archive/6404

Onto the Wales national final of the languages Spelling Bee…

Last week I set off on a long train journey to Aberystwyth with my colleague, Claire Wilkins for the Welsh Spelling Bee final. As it was graduation week at Aberystwyth Uni, we couldn’t get accommodation there so ended up staying in Welshpool, which was lovely and very scenic. We continued by train to Aberystwyth the next day and had a conversation with a teacher who was taking one of her pupils to the Spelling Bee! The venue for the final was the superb National Library of Wales. The event kicked off with the 4 year 7 finalists in Spanish, followed by Welsh second language, French and finally German. Performances were really impressive – the standard of spelling was very high throughout. Afterwards I did a bit of sightseeing in Aberystwyth …..

I was then joined by my husband and we spent the weekend walking in the very beautiful Elan Valley….