I was recently invited to present at an event in Plymouth at Devonport High School for Girls. For once this wasn't me talking about pedagogy or methodology but about the actual end point that languages can take you to in the real world- how do languages contribute to getting a job? What can you really do with them?
I've told so many of the students that I've taught that languages are useful. That they help you get a job. But do they? When I'd agreed to do the presentation it suddenly struck me that I needed some actual information, not just me waffling. So I tweeted and I used Facebook and wondered what would turn up...
The Prezi below was what I used on the day before we launched into an exciting day of "language journalism". The year 8s I was presenting to were working in groups to translate Target Language articles in a variety of languages and collate them into a newspaper, using their own devices and a Language Lab. The groups then also had to prepare a "live" news report, including a foreign language interview from the scene. Alas, as so often happens, technology scuppered some of our plans (the USB ports on the computer we were using decided to malfunction), the students created some great pieces- and did some great ad-libbing as well!
My main focus was that languages are a vital transferrable skill in a world where few people stay in the same career throughout their working lives. What do you have to offer to a potential employer? Which could a business do more rapidly, train you to speak a language or to operate in their business environment? A real no brainer there. But what surprised me from the responses I received to my social media messages was how varied the careers are of my friends, in many cases people I've studied with at school or university. Many of them would not consider themselves fluent, yet have got ahead in their chosen fields as a result of being able to offer language skills. A powerful motivator, as clearly demonstrated by the impressive statements in the evaluation document below. Journalists, lawyers, accountants, marketing agents, engineers, Human Resources, translators and diplomats. People whose job titles I don't understand but whose jobs look amazing (and terrifying in equal measures!). Generally people who have used their languages- and not just to be a language teacher!