By Fanny Chouc
As part of this long-standing cooperation, S1 to S4 pupils visit campus several times a year and get a chance to consolidate their French and Spanish, but also to broaden their knowledge and understanding of languages and cultures.
This scheme was initially set up as a
collaborative project to work towards the implementation of the government’s
1+2 policy, and it’s one of the many innovative ways in which LINCS engages
with local communities in order to inspire young generations of learners. The
project was initiated by Mr Meikle, one of LINCS’s graduates, who is now Depute
Rector at Larbert High, and it has been
beneficial to both institutions: young learners with a taste for languages get
a chance to further their skills by working with native speakers and talented
university students, while discovering our campus, and Heriot-Watt students and
Erasmus students and interns get a chance to share their culture and passion
for languages, whilst gaining some valuable teaching experience. This
collaboration has benefited our graduates and students further, as Larbert High
has welcomed some of them as volunteers for some shadowing and classroom
experience, like Mrs More. She has been accompanying the groups to her alma
mater and this experience enriched her CV; she’s since secured a place on a teacher
training postgraduate programme of studies.
So what do pupils do when they visit LINCS?
They engage in a range of activities geared
both towards practice, with applied classes in French and Spanish related to
their curriculum, but since LINCS is a also very global department, with
expertise in multilingualism and multiculturalism, we use the in-house
expertise to broaden these young linguists’ horizons.
For instance, during their latest visit, S2 and
S3 pupils got an insight into British Sign Language learning, thanks to two of
our Honours students from the BSL degree in Interpreting, Translation and Applied
Languages Studies. Lou and Louise explained how they came to study this
language, how the learning experience is designed and the skills they developed
along the way, and pupils’ curiosity was clearly peeked: they asked questions
about the language, but also about the deaf community and culture.
Thanks to our Erasmus + intern from Mons University,
Nathanaël Stilmant, these two groups also discovered another French-speaking
country, Belgium. As part of this session, very much focused on the
multilingual nature of this country, pupils also had a chance to learn some
Dutch and Walloon.
S4 pupils, who are already thinking of exams, worked
on their Spanish with two of our Honours students: Simon and Rachel devised
activities around their curriculum, but also shared anecdotes about their
experience as students at Heriot-Watt and as Erasmus students abroad, since the
M.A. includes two semesters of study in one of our partner institutions on the
continent or beyond. This helped young learners consider the importance of a
global profile, at a stage when they are making important study choices and are
starting to think about higher education.
As for S1 pupils, after a French session with
one of our enthusiastic 2nd year, Samuel, they went on an adventure
on campus: armed with audio clues in French, they explored the grounds, collecting
information along the way, in a bid to crack a code to work out the secret
message they had been given. This cross-disciplinary and fun approach gave them
a glimpse into the daily life of students as they went from one place to the
next, and this discovery experience is also part of a joint bid to make young
pupils think about university studies from an early age. It was also a chance
for them to realise that languages and STEM subjects often complement each
other well: code-breaking has historically been done by linguists as much as
scientists; for instance, many of the talented code-breakers who worked in
Bletchley Park during World War II were linguists, and worked alongside
mathematicians to crack and decipher codes used by enemies to communicate.
But more exciting opportunities lay in store:
for their next visits, pupils will get a chance to visit the Confucius
Institute for Business and to learn some Esperanto, to name but a few of the
activities LINCS has in store for them.