Enhancing the language learning journey

It's been a busy time for the School of Languages and Cultures with initiatives to improve the language learning journey for both students and teachers.

Digital technologies

On 31 August, the School of Languages and Cultures (SLC) hosted a language teachers’ workshop organized by the Spanish Education Adviser to New Zealand (Education Office, Embassy of Spain) and the International Language Exchanges and Pathways (ILEP) organisation.

The day-long workshop gathered 35 language teachers of primary and secondary schools, including Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Māori and Spanish. The focus was on digital technologies to support language teaching and learning. The morning consisted of a plenary session where teachers were introduced to a selection of online tools with a pedagogical reflection on their use. In the afternoon, they took part in specific language labs, with hands-on experience to develop resources for their own classes. The labs were hosted in the Language Learning Centre, followed by an informal afternoon tea.  

The SLC will continue to build these networks between the university and other teachers from across the languages education sectors, as feedback from the organisers proved the event to be fruitful and productive.  Initiatives, such as this, enable all parties to work towards coordinating a better transition between the different stages of language teaching.

Professional development

The New Zealand Association of Language Teachers (NZALT) and SLC co-hosted a visit from language teachers in the Wellington region on 7 September.  

It was a valuable chance to hear from primary and secondary teachers about their needs, the challenges they are facing, and how tertiary institutions might work together with the primary and secondary sectors to encourage more students to continue with, or to pick up, foreign language study. Annabelle Sinclair, president of the NZALT and Head of Languages at Wellington Girls’ College, shared information about professional development opportunities for language teachers, which the NZALT support along with specific language associations.  

Staff from SLC, LALS, Classics and the Language Learning Centre profiled language learning at Victoria and discussed opportunities for collaboration, to promote the learning of languages in New Zealand, such as voluntary work experience for advanced language students as language assistants in primary and secondary classrooms.

Student-centred initiatives

On 8 September, the SLC ran a one-day bootcamp for first year language students, to brush up on their language skills before classes resumed after the mid-term break.

The bootcamp was initiated by Dr Nicola Gilmour, who ran a pilot event for her Spanish students earlier in the year. The Trimester 1 event involved a group of 16 beginning Spanish students spending a whole day practising their Spanish with games and role-plays. It proved so beneficial for the students that she applied for Faculty Learning and Teaching grant funding, in order to offer a School-wide bootcamp for all first-year language students in Trimester 2. Academic staff and advanced language students from Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish guided close to 50 students, who spent the day practising their skills with their classmates—some even making short videos in their target language. The day finished with an international team quiz that brought all the students together.

The event was a great success. Students said it was ideally timed to get them back into the swing of things after the break, and that the activities were engaging and relevant. They also enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the content and related ideas with students from other language classes, highlighting the benefits of collaboration.