The MFL Student Mentoring Project encourages uptake of Modern Languages at GCSE, and aspiration to go to university, in schools across Wales. A collaboration between the Welsh Government, four Welsh Universities (Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea), and the four Welsh education consortia, it supports the transition from compulsory modern languages study at a critical juncture when modern languages become an optional GCSE subject (age 14). Working with 70+ secondary schools, it trains undergraduate modern linguists to act as mentors to pupils via a 6-week programme promoting the benefits of languages and intercultural communication.
In 2017-18 the project developed a pilot digital platform, Digi-Languages, which blends face-to-face mentoring with e-mentoring to allow the project to work with schools more distant from the partner universities. The platform includes a series of bespoke activities and videos that pupils complete over a 6-week cycle. It places Welsh students’ bilingual heritage at the centre, showcasing language as something which influences an individual’s perception of their personal, local and transnational identity.
In 2018, the project intends to hold two public engagement events, led by Prof Claire Gorrara and MFL Student Mentoring national coordinator Lucy Jenkins, showcasing its work and publicizing the Digi-Languages pilot. These will be
- 'How Pan-Wales University projects can have a positive impact on MFL engagement in schools and the wider community: Wales shows the way', 11 October, The All-Party Parliamentary Group for MFL in Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London
- 'EU partners meet', 7-8 November, Welsh Government Higher Education dept EU Office, Brussels
Each event will include an interactive pop-up installation of Digi-Languages which will enable policy makers to learn about the resources of the MFL Student Mentoring project and Digi-Languages pilot, develop existing partnerships, and establish new links with policy organisations both within and beyond the UK. Central to both events is the aspiration to develop a trans-European project, and promote the bilingual heritage and culture of Wales.