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The Department of Modern Languages and Cultures hosted a successful symposium on the topic of ‘Making Languages Work – Towards a Closer Co-Operation between Schools and Universities’ last Wednesday. The aim of the symposium was to encourage networking and develop closer links between language teachers in the North West. Forty-five teachers, headteachers and colleagues from universities attended the event. Speakers included René Koglbauer, the former president of the Association for Language Learning and senior lecturer in the School of Education, Communication and Languages Sciences (ECLS) at Newcastle University; Hans van Mourik Broekman, the principal of Liverpool College; Tina Lonsdale, a French and Spanish teacher at Formby High School and organiser of the Polyglots programme; and Karen Boyland and Janet Kirby, from St Hilda’s CE High School and St Margaret’s CE Academy respectively. These latter two schools have engaged in a successful collaboration to offer a broader range of language choices to their students.

The thought-provoking, at times stirring talks not only outlined the current situation of language learning in the UK, with its peculiar challenges, but also pointed to new opportunities, with prospects of a more focused, inspirational and engaging language learning experience for pupils and students. The talks stimulated much consideration, which resulted in an absorbing, lively discussion at the end of the afternoon.

The event revealed a tremendous enthusiasm for language learning in all sectors. We hope that the day has enabled participants to make new connections and form networks, so that we can continue offering a wide choice of language learning opportunities in the North West.

The networking event was enhanced considerably by the baking skills of members of the department, who contributed cakes from their regions. Guglhupf, tarta de Santiago, Versunkener Apfelkuchen and raspberry hazelnut friands were much appreciated and proved that the learning of language and culture is, ultimately, a pleasurable and gratifying experience!