Issue date: 13 November 2001

Taster sessions in European languages offered to Bristol primary school children by the University of the West of England have been eagerly snapped up.

The Faculty of Languages and European Studies offered taster sessions in French, German and Spanish to every primary school in Bristol and were overwhelmed with the response. Irene Wilkie, Project Director said, “We believe that by giving children an opportunity to experience some language learning during primary years we can generate enthusiasm which will hopefully continue into their secondary education.”

A random selection of five schools was made from a huge response from the City’s schools. Children at Whitehouse Primary School in Hartcliffe will be given Spanish lessons, Holymead Primary School and Broomhill Junior School will be given lessons in German and Teyfant Community School and Upper Horfield Primary School will have French lessons.

Sally Mlewa, Head teacher at Whitehouse Primary School, Hartcliffe, enthused about the childrens’ response to the first Spanish lessons. “It was just brilliant – a real self esteem booster for all of the children. Today children from the reception class up to year six (ages 5 - 11) took part in the taster sessions. The reception children thought they were very clever saying “we can speak Spanish ‘Adios’” and the year six group thought it was ‘cool’ and a good preparation for secondary school. The children have all been set Spanish homework and are looking forward to the next lesson in a weeks time.”

Irene continued, “The Taster sessions are just one of a number of ideas that the university has been involved in recently to raise the profile of language education. This is the last stage of UWE's 'Rendez-vous with Europe' project, which has received funding from the European Commission. Previous activities have included information stands in the Galleries and The Mall, a passenger survey at Bristol International Airport, an Open day in the Faculty. Although it will be difficult to quantify the impact of the project in terms of how many people take up the challenge of learning another language, we would like to feel that we have at least encouraged people of all ages and abilities to consider the possibility.”


Editors notes:

Spanish lessons at Whitehouse Primary School will be held on Friday 9, 16, 23 and 30 November.

French lessons will be held at Upper Horfield Primary School on Thursdays from 8 November and at Teyfant Primary School on Wednesday 14, 21, 28 November and 5 December.

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