From January 2012 Aston students have offered extra-curricular language and culture sessions to the students of Joseph Chamberlain College in Balsall Heath.
The project is run by Routes into Languages, a publicly funded initiative to promote and encourage language learning. Aston is proud to say that we have been leading the West Midlands Consortium of Routes since the programme was launched in 2006.
Preparations for the project started in 2011 and weekly Wednesday afternoon sessions are now taught until June this year.
Joseph Chamberlain College (JCC)
Situated in close proximity of Birmingham city centre, JCC teaches many students who are high-performing, and a significant number go on to undergraduate study. However, the student population at JCC largely comes from disadvantaged ethnic minority backgrounds and have normally not previously been able to engage in language learning, either at school or at JCC, where French A level was recently introduced and is the only language on offer at this level.
JCC staff are keen for their students to broaden their horizons through these extra-curricular language and culture activities and they welcome the initiative and the enthusiasm shown by Aston students involved in the project.
Benefits of the project
The project allows Aston to engage successfully with the local community. At the same time it helps to raise the profile of language learning and it offers our students the valuable opportunity to gain work experience and enhance their employability. This is particularly relevant for future teachers.
Reactions have been extremely positive on both sides. JCC’s principal Elly Tobyn hugely appreciates the time and effort that Aston students are putting into this and the students-cum-teachers are thrilled to have been given a very warm welcome by pupils who are eager to learn – even outside of normal classroom hours.
The main reason I decided to get involved in the project was because I want to go into teaching – I’ve since received an offer for my teacher training. Having mainly taught at primary level, I was really intrigued to get some experience with an older age group. We were all quite apprehensive at first, but as soon as we arrived at JCC we were welcomed warmly and the students are fantastic. They’re really enthusiastic, not just about the language but about the German culture so it’s nice to be able to answer their questions using first-hand experience from the year abroad. The students are also really interested in University life and it’s lovely to give them an insight into studying at Aston – particularly languages.
Philippa, final year Translation Studies French/German
I saw this programme as a great opportunity to try and encourage young people to get involved in languages. The students at JCC have been incredibly enthusiastic and really want to learn more about Germany and its culture, as well as picking up a bit of vocab. This has been extremely helpful in confirming my plans to become a teacher and it’s been great to tell the students more about life at Aston, which I think they’ve also enjoyed. Anyone would benefit from taking part in this programme, not just those of us who want to go into teaching!
Adrienne, final year German & Psychology