Improving confidence and enjoyment in studying foreign languages

Date Posted: 08/01/2016

Going abroad gives students the chance to practice their foreign language skills as well as take in a new culture.

School Travel Organiser takes a look at three companies which are helping students develop their foreign language skill by taking them abroad.

In 2014, learning a foreign language became part of the National Curriculum for Key Stage 2, as well as Key Stage 3. However when speaking to the BBC, Vicky Gough, schools adviser at the British Council, said: "The UK is currently facing a shortfall in people who can speak foreign languages.”

Statistics released last February from the Higher Education Statistics Agency revealed that entries to modern foreign language degree courses are still falling.

Overall, between 2007/08 and 2013/14, the number of entrants to modern foreign languages fell by 16 per cent. Specifically, entrants to French courses fell by 25 per cent, to German courses by 34 per cent and to Spanish courses by one per cent.

Gough added: "The benefits of learning one [a foreign language] are huge – from boosting job prospects to acquiring the ability to understand and better connect with another culture.

"If the UK is to remain competitive on the international stage, we need far more of us to develop our language skills," she said.

So how can schools help boost students confidence and enjoyment in foreign languages and increase uptake as they get older? Ardmore Educational Travel and Club Europe Educational Travel work alongside schools to arrange trips abroad.

By immersing pupils in the language and culture of a country and encouraging them to communicate with native speakers in real-life situations, they are helping improve students’ foreign language skills and confidence.

Ardmore Educational Travel

Ardmore provides a large selection of tours for students to practice their German, French and Spanish in both Europe and beyond, in places including Buenos Aires, Quebec, Costa Rica and Madagascar.

The company, which caters for students aged between 11 and 18, tailors all its programmes to suit the requirements of each school and options include language lessons, cultural visits, homestay visits and work experience opportunities for those aged 16 plus.

As well as improving confidence in the use of foreign languages, there are also potential cross-curricular and personal development benefits.

For example, a visit to the battlefields in France is suitable for both History and Foreign Languages students with possible trips to the Tyne Cot War Graves Cemetery, Mametz Woods and the Messines Ridge British Cemetery.

ardmore.travel/tours/language-cultural

Organised trips to Spain, Germany, France and further afield are available.

Club Europe Educational Travel

Club Europe Educational Tours offers school trips to Germany, France and Spain for GCSE, AS, A2, IB, IGCSE and BTEC students. 

French language tours take place in either Paris or Brittany, whilst the German language tours take place in the Rhineland and Spanish students have the chance to visit Club Europe Educational Tour’s language school in Costa Brava.

Although itineraries can be tailor-made, structured language lessons in the morning are often followed by a visit to some of the town or city’s major attractions, where students can practice their foreign language outside of the classroom.

www.club-europe.co.uk/school-travel-tours

Travelbound

Trips currently available for enquiry from Travelbound cater for French, Spanish and German students, with one option being a visit to Normandy, France. Here students can stay at the company’s own château, Château du Molay, before venturing out to the French markets to complete an assignment.

The project involves each student receiving three Euros to spend on ingredients for a lunch, which they will make back at the château. Pupils are required to use their French-speaking skills to make their purchases.

Other highlights of this trip include a visit to a French bakery, French language lessons with a native speaker and exploring a goats’ cheese farm.

Travelbound also offers a visit to Cordoba for Spanish students. Pupils will stay with a local family, which gives them the opportunity to practice their Spanish in real-life, day-to-day situations. Spanish lessons, flamenco lessons and a class teaching students how to make the traditional Spanish paella are further options on this trip.

www.travelbound.co.uk/school-trips/languages

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