KING’S Ely students with a love for learning languages and experiencing different cultures are reaping the benefits of an Erasmus+ funded project.
It was in autumn last year when King’s Ely’s Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) Department was successful in securing a Language Erasmus+ Project Grant from the British Council and European Commission. The project, entitled United in Diversity, has and is continuing to involve Year 9 and 10 students from King’s Ely, and students from IES Andrés Vandelvira in Albacete, Spain and College Chaloupe Saint-Leu in La Reunion, France.
Since the project went live, Head of MFL at King’s Ely, Esmeralda Salgado, has been instrumental in organising two exchange trips to partner schools in Spain and the overseas department and region of France in the Indian Ocean, La Reunion; both of which have been phenomenally successful. As well as the exchange trips, the project is seeing King’s Ely students working collaboratively with their overseas partners, including on the production of a video diary in the target language exploring a particular festival which represents the culture of the visiting country.
The culmination of the project and part of the exchange will be the French and Spanish schools visiting King’s Ely in June 2019 in order to take part, together with King’s Ely students, in a series of workshops with the aim to design a multilingual, promotional video celebrating the heritage of all countries involved in the project in the context of Europe.
Esmeralda Salgado said: “I cannot put into words how amazing both of our Erasmus exchange visits have been, and what a fantastic impact the United in Diversity project is having on our students and the whole King’s Ely community. The project is not only enabling our students to improve their linguistic skills because all activities are being conducted in French and Spanish, but they are also developing their ICT skills and genuinely fostering a love for cultural differences and tolerance.
“During their visits to La Reunion and Albacete, our students spent most of their time whilst at the French and Spanish schools carrying out their video diaries via workshops. They also got to experience festivals first hand and undertook a number of day trips to emblematic historical or geographical places. As a school, we are so honoured to have been given the opportunity to deliver this project, which echoes the MFL Department’s mission to take languages outside the classroom.”
In February this year, it was reported that ‘foreign language learning is at its lowest level in UK secondary schools since the turn of the millennium’. A report published by the BBC said that the number of students taking GCSE language courses in England has reduced by up to 50% since 2013. A separate survey of secondary schools suggested a third have dropped at least one language from their GCSE options, with German and French falling the most.
Head of German at King’s Ely, Neil Urwin, said: “We are bucking this trend at King’s Ely that is for sure. The MFL Department here is a vibrant and exciting place to be, where students are given every chance to succeed in their study of French, German and Spanish. We very successfully take language learning outside the classroom, so that our students have a much richer experience and understanding of why they are learning a language. We have exchange schools in each of the three countries, with an extra link in the Reunion Islands, where French is the official language.
“King’s Ely has achieved International School status through our well-structured e-Twinning links and the current Erasmus+ project in French and Spanish. All languages offer support sessions at lunchtime or after school and there is a vast array of other activities for students to be involved in, such as the Inde-Film Awards, debating, plays and theatre, languages and business days, International Week and the ever popular Language Leader Award in conjunction with Routes into Languages.
“We are constantly reviewing our practice and updating our programmes of study to ensure that modern teaching and learning techniques are embedded in all that we do. All of our students have access to native speakers during language lessons. Where other schools have used the decline in language learning as a way to reduce costs, we have not been afraid to invest.”
To keep up to date with the United in Diversity project, please visit: www.facebook.com/unitedindiversityErasmus/ or: https://twitter.com/united_an