26/11/2014, by CLAS
Routes into Languages: a student ambassador’s experience
Fresh from her speech at the recent Routes into Languages national training event, Hayley Smith (BA Economics with French) speaks about her experience as a student ambassador for the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies.
Routes into Languages”is a consortium of universities working together with schools and colleges to enthuse and encourage people to study languages. I have been a Student Ambassador for Routes into Languages since my second year and I work on increasing participation of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds in language study. We often host events at the University of Nottingham for pupils from secondary schools around the Nottingham area such as Language Taster Sessions, European Day of Languages Events and Language Master Classes.
The pupils really benefit from attending these events as the majority of them have never been to a university before. During Language Taster Sessions, we give the pupils the opportunity to experience learning one of the more unusual languages that the university offers such as Serbian, Russian, Greek and Japanese. The Language Master Classes are a great opportunity for the pupils to not only visit the university campus but to also brush up on their GCSE and A-Level language skills right before exams. Both events have proved extremely successful.
I was asked to speak at the Routes into Languages national training event to share my experiences with other ambassadors. On 16th November I travelled down to University College London to deliver my speech alongside Mirella Santamaria MBE, who has been the project manager of Routes into Languages East Midlands for 6 years. The training event is a full day programme including talks from various members of Routes into Languages and other influential people in the world of languages, such as members of the European Commission.
The training event also includes an afternoon of workshops, each focused on useful skills for ambassadors. I led a workshop which gave advice on the role of the Student Ambassador. I briefly discussed projects that I had worked on over the years, and the various issues I had faced, for example, sometimes you are working with children who may be the first member of their family to go to university and it can be difficult to relate to them if you have not been in a similar situation. I drew from my own experiences and advised the ambassadors on appropriate ways to engage with the pupils and how to deal with such issues. It was an enjoyable day and we have received very positive feedback about the event.
I find my work as a Student Ambassador incredibly rewarding and it has taught me the importance of being a tangible role model for younger children. I would recommend working with Routes into Languages to any students looking for very valuable work experience and the opportunity to develop their teaching skills.