Hundreds of youngsters got a crash course in eight languages at an event aimed at halting the dramatic decline in numbers of Welsh students studying a foreign language.
Pupils got a rough guide to countries on every continent and a beginner’s guide to their languages including Chinese, Japanese, French, Polish, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian at the two-day summer school at St David’s Catholic Sixth Form College in Cardiff.
The annual event attracted more than 200 year 8 and year 10 pupils from schools in South Wales. It aims to encourage these learners to continue to study languages throughout their lives.
The most recent figures show a dramatic decline in the number of Welsh teenagers studying a foreign language. Since 2006, foreign language study has halved across Wales’ schools and colleges.
The research carried out by the Welsh Conservatives showed GCSE study of European languages had fallen across both colleges and schools, while college courses in non-European languages such as Arabic, Japanese and Chinese were no longer offered.
The language school at St David’s Catholic Sixth Form College targets youngsters before they have to make their GCSE and A level subject choices.
It not only gives them a taste of languages they may never have experienced before but also provides them with information on the importance of being multilingual in the modern world.
Organised in partnership with Cardiff University, the college’s feeder schools and businesses with global links the event aims to give youngsters a real lesson in the value of being multilingual and improve the chances of Welsh students getting the top jobs in Europe and around the world.
Hilary Griffiths, assistant principal of St David’s College, said: “A range of other activities have and are being developed with our partners such as language ambassadors from the university working with our students, work-shadowing of staff at Cardiff University, as well as work placements for students.” CAPTION: Chinese whispers: Bo Lui, a Chinese teacher from the Confucius Institute at Cardiff University with Corpus Christi Catholic High School students (top), while (above) French teacher Bethan Enticott gives a beginners’ lesson