Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Why study languages? Three minutes to convince 6th formers to study MFL. #3mins2MFL

This week I've got myself involved in a Speedy Networking event where some students from my university are going to a local high school to 'sell' their course speed-dating style.  I don't know a huge amount about the event, at the moment I'm not sure if it will be going ahead as there hasn't been that much interest from students wanting to get involved.  I hope it does go ahead as it sounds like a good event but clearly will only be successful with a good selection of courses represented.  Anyway, this has got me thinking about how to 'sell' the study of languages in only three minutes.

I've mentioned how useful Twitter has been for me before and so it was my first port of call for inspiration.  Firstly I really appreciate tweeters like @speak2future @thirdyearabroad @TESNewTeachers and @MFLSunderland retweeting my request as it helped me get a few more responses.  I asked Twitter users:

Here are just a selection of the reasons I was given.
Employability and job prospects:

I went through these with the other languages students that are going to be coming to the event, trying to work out how we could use them our in three minutes.  All being final year students we were particularly interested in the tweets to do with employability and were really interested to see that language graduates were something like the 7th most employable.  Of the three of us, two are going into teaching in the UK and one to teach English in France and from our experience of the job market outside of Education we've found that as much as languages are sought after, these are in combination with other things.  For example, marketing graduates with knowledge of French or economics graduates with knowledge of German.  One of the three of us has joint honours with Maths and we agreed that maybe in hindsight taking joint honours with something outside of the languages department may have placed us in a better position.  That said it really depends on what university you go to and what you're intending on doing afterwards as some universities place a lot of focus on language and translation, as opposed to our course which has a greater emphasis on 'culture', politics, literature, history etc.  Just recently the British Chamber of Commerce highlighted the need for more linguists in the UK, here.  In terms of what we take from this for our #3mins2MFL we decided that we need to highlight that there are a range of opportunities out there for brits that speak another language, and not just for those that want to go and live abroad as some students might expect.  An example I like to use is that last summer I worked at a London airport and spoke Spanish every single shift.

Experience and opportunity:

We were unanimous that the year abroad is a vital part of a languages degree and is a great reason to study languages.  The experience of the year abroad is different for everyone, especially due to the variety of things that you can do for the year, but we all agreed that we got something from it.  The year abroad is something quite unique to the languages degree in the UK, students from other disciplines can take sandwich years or study abroad but their options are not as wide as language students who don't have the same linguistic barriers.  Year abroad students studying languages can study at a university, teach English or even find a work placement, there are plenty of opportunities out there.  There is a lot more about this on Third Year Abroad, especially their Graduate Case Studies.


 This tweet comes from someone that I've studied with for the last 4 years, she has already headed off into the 'real world' and started work in a job that isn't directly related to her degree subject.  I'm sure she won't mind that I'm using her has a great example of the transferable skills that you gain from a languages degree as she highlights herself in the tweet.  Communication is just one of those skills, recently when re-doing my CV I identified some more which are understanding of other ways of working, independence and self-motivation.


I've briefly touched on this one already, learning a language allows you to see things from another perspective, learning about other cultures, different approaches and new ideas.

Of all the tweets I received we particularly liked this one:

In the end we've decided to take a minute each looking at what you study in a languages degree and the host of other courses you can combine with it, the year abroad and finally where your languages can take you.  If it goes ahead maybe I'll blog on it again after the event.

What do you think are the main reasons to learn a language? Tweet @BexNobes with the hashtag #3mins2MFL and let me know.

No comments:

Post a Comment