This project emerged from a previous IATL-funded Student as Producer project that ran from 2013 – 2015, in which fifteen volunteer students on their study year abroad were tasked with sourcing realia (every day objects revealing something of the cultural, social, recreational and political life of the French and francophone worlds) with which to create teaching and learning materials for local schools. The students from this pilot study returned from their third-year abroad in October 2014, and we worked together with modern foreign language secondary teachers and our widening participation officer to produce resources that will be trialled in schools in the near future.
Having been impressed by the inventiveness of that group of volunteers, convinced of the benefits to them of participating in the project (they saw gains in terms of key skills and increased cognitive engagement with intercultural communication and questions of global identity), and enthused by the response of MFL teachers to the project values, we began to think bigger. It seemed to us that in an era of declining language study in schools, our students were perfectly placed to provide 'on the ground' experiences of travel, intercultural and linguistic learning that might invigorate younger learners. We hope to set up ongoing channels of communication between local schools and our student linguists as an investment in the future of language learning and as an opportunity for community engagement that works at both local and international levels.
With this in mind, we have joined forces with the Centre for Professional Education at Warwick for our new project. We contacted a number of their local training schools, and now have a network of 20 local schools working with us at both primary and secondary levels (in Coventry, Warwick, Leamington and Rugby). We also have a team of 20 student volunteers, who will be working as either primary and secondary language assistants, or as Erasmus students, in France and Martinique. This new version of the project involves much closer liaison between individual schools and student volunteers from the word go. Students have visited their partner schools and drawn up project plans setting deadlines and objectives for material gathering, so that each student is responding directly to the needs of their partner schools. We also envisage our language assistants establishing direct communication between their partner schools and the schools in which they will be working in Martinique and France, so that a regular virtual exchange can be established. Teachers and students will communicate at regular intervals throughout the Year Abroad 2015-16 on a Moodle platform, where video, audio and other resources can be shared. This environment will allow teacher-to-teacher and teacher-to-student collaboration on the creation of learning resources. This phase of the project will end in the Autumn of 2016, with a project conference involving all stakeholders.
Cathy Hampton is a principal teaching fellow in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures (French), where she is also the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Her prime responsibilities are in first-year teaching of language, literature and ideas, but in the past few years she has taken a keen interest in the pedagogy of the Year Abroad and in virtual learning. She is a great believer in harnessing the energies of our extremely creative students to create effective communities of practice.
Conferences and presentations
Cathy Hampton, Warwick and global citizenship, at 'Warwick Teaching and Learning Showcase 2015: Warwick at 50, Teaching then and now', Warwick, 7th May 2015
Cathy Hampton and Ariane Demeure-Ahearne, From widening horizons to widening participation: transmitting the experience of global citizenship to the school classroom at 'Innovative Language Teaching and Learning at University: Enhancing Participation and Collaboration', Nottingham, 19th June 2015
Cathy Hampton, Cultural Discovery as a Post-Year Abroad Agent of Change at 'The Culture of Study Abroad for Second Languages', Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Canada, 14th – 17th July 2015