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Schools urged to talk business to improve languages uptake

18 November 2008


Teachers from across the West Midlands have attended a ‘Talking Business’ event organised by the Routes into Languages initiative. This three year project is led by Aston University in Birmingham and the Regional Language Network.

The event, which aimed to enable schools to forge links with local industry and show students the importance of language skills in the workplace, was held at the University of Wolverhampton’s Telford Campus.

Wolverhampton is a partner in the Routes into Language Scheme along with the universities of Aston, Birmingham, Coventry, Keele, and Warwick.

Angela Maxwell, who is Director of Acuwomen, gave a business perspective at the event and inspired delegates with her own experiences of working with students.  Angela, a Business Language Champion, has worked with three schools in the past year helping to increase languages uptake at all three.

Frances Pallett, Business Language Champions Project Manager, spoke about how to contact companies, why business input is so important and what activities work well between schools and businesses such as presentations, site visits and mentoring.

Chris Everall, Regional Language Network Manager, said: ‘Businesses increasingly operate in an international environment and it is good for pupils to see the relevance of foreign languages to the workplace.  We hope that this kind of business-school interaction will also help businesses by giving them access to more employees with language skills in the future.’

Kat Stevenson, Routes into Languages Project Officer at Aston University, said: ‘Routes into Languages is an ongoing project which aims to enthuse and encourage students to continue studying languages.  Building links between schools and local businesses allows students to see languages in action thus helping them to appreciate how language skills can enhance their future career.’

For further information on Routes into Languages please visit www.routesintolanguages.ac.uk

For further information on the Regional Language Network West Midlands or the Business Language Champions programme please visit www.rln-westmidlands.com.

ENDS

For further press information please contact Sally Finn on 0121 204 4552 or Kat Stevenson on 0121 204 3872.

Notes to editors

• The Routes into Languages programme is funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Department for Children, Schools and Families. The West Midlands Regional Consortium is led by Aston in collaboration with the universities of Birmingham, Coventry, Keele, Warwick and Wolverhampton. They will deliver a three-year programme of activities aimed at encouraging young people to study languages and increasing the take-up of languages from school to university.

• The Regional Language Network West Midlands helps businesses and individuals to overcome language and cultural barriers and provides a 'first-point-of-contact' for all language and culture-related queries in the region.

• Business Language Champions is a programme funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.  It is co-ordinated by the Regional Language Network West Midlands with the support of CILT, The National Centre for Languages.  The programme is designed to bridge the gap between school and the workplace and to reverse the recent decline in the take up of modern foreign languages.  The ‘Champions’ bring language skills alive by highlighting the problems local companies have recruiting staff that can speak more than one language and helping pupils to see how important these skills are in the workplace.

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