University skills through the foreign language

Posted in: Case Studies


This 2013-14 project supported a one-day languages event for local sixth form students. The students and teachers attended a lecture in the morning facilitated by an educational consultant. They learned about independent study, motivation, presentation skills and learning in a multi-cultural context. Afterwards students had a campus tour facilitated by Student Ambassadors in the target languages of the day (French, German and Spanish). This was followed by afternoon sessions in which they worked in groups on different topics that then they had to present in the foreign language. The afternoon sessions were facilitated by language staff (Emilie Poletto, Astrid Forsyth and José Carlos Cirera).

" I expect other departments could run similar one day workshops. My experience from this project is that giving schools direct exposure to the discipline in question, allowing students to “have a go”, to spend one day on campus, meet teachers, etc. can make a very big difference in terms of promoting the subject, dispelling myths and improving recruitment." (Dr Irene Macías)

Project Team

Dr. Irene Macías, Department of Politics & International Studies:

Ms Isabella Stefanutti, Head of the Foreign Languages Centre

Mr José Carlos Cirera, Foreign Languages Centre, Department of Politics & International Studies

Mrs Astrid Forsyth, Foreign Languages Centre, Department of Politics & International Studies

Ms Emilie Poletto, Foreign Languages Centre, Department of Politics & International Studies

Aims & Rationale

This project followed on from “An investigation into changes to Modern Languages syllabi at A-level with a view to informing changes to year 1 programmes and modes of delivery in language degree and IWLP programmes (French, German, Spanish)”, funded by the LTEO and completed in 2012. The aims of the project were to:

  • To promote language degrees amongst language sixth formers;
  • To train language sixth formers from local schools into skills for university through the target language: presentations, independent study, lecture skills such as gist comprehension and note taking. This would be done through the input of an expert on study skills for HE (in English), and then through their active participation in workshops to practice the skills (in the target language);
  • To provide Bath language undergraduates with practice in their foreign language, plus other skills such as organizational skills, facilitation skills, team work, presentation skills. They would be involved in focus groups prior to the event and then in the running and facilitation of the workshops on the day.

Outputs & Outcomes

With a view of providing languages sixth formers from local schools with the key skills for successful transition to HE, as identified in the above project, we organized a "Skills for University through the Target Language". It was a one day event. We invited pupils from local schools doing languages and trained them on presentation skills, independent study and lecture skills. Part time language TFs promoted the day in schools, undergraduate  language students were involved in focus groups with the aim of designing and finessing the content of the workshops, and then on the actual day in the workshops as facilitators. We also had a professional trainer on study skills who provided the initial input, after which school students participated in workshops putting into practice what they had learnt.

The content of this one day event was very much based on findings of previous project, “An investigation into changes to Modern Languages syllabi at A-level (French, German, Spanish)”, also funded by the LTEO and completed in 2012.  We had a good idea of what we wanted to address. However, we still ran focus groups to make sure that the content of the workshop was relevant for A level students. We contracted P/T languages staff (Spanish, French and German) to run focus groups with undergraduate students with a view of designing and finessing the activities for the day, to promote the day in local schools (time and travel), and to organize the event on the day.

We also involved undergraduate students: participation in focus groups; facilitation of workshops on the day. And we hired an outside consultant to deliver the plenary on the day.

The feedback we got from pupils and teachers was outstanding. A few students reported to having been undecided as to whether to do languages at university before coming and that the workshop had persuaded them favourably. We also had feedback from accompanying teachers and they asked for the event to run again. I think there is a case for running it yearly, but it would need funding and support. It certainly ties in well with the Language Teachers´ Event that we run in the Department, and it raises the profile of UoB as a languages provider.

Posted in: Case Studies