Bac pupils take up Romanian

1st October 2004 at 01:00
College students in mid-Wales are helping sick children in Romania by taking an unusual subject as part of their Welsh baccalaureate qualification.

While most students learn French or Spanish in order to meet the Welsh bac's language requirement, students at Coleg Powys are learning Romanian so they can communicate with children and staff at a run-down hospital in Bucharest.

Students are raising thousands of pounds to fund a five-day trip to Romania so they can help renovate rooms for children at one of Bucharest's poorest hospitals. Claire Bumford, Welsh bac course co-ordinator, said the initiative had been very popular.

"It is a really hard language to learn but they are being taught by a member of staff here who used to work in hospitals out in Romania," she said.

"The aim is to teach students the basics as well as a bit about the culture and customs of the country during the 20 hours they have for the module - which is enough for them to get by while they are out there.

"By learning Romanian students get the chance to use the language in practice.

"It is a wonderful experience which they will never forget."

The Welsh bac diploma encourages students to develop key skills through a variety of community-based activities as well as projects that put Wales in context with Europe and the rest of the world.

And it is not just Coleg Powys which is being innovative when it comes to learning an unusual language. As well as offering traditional modern languages, St Cyres school in Penarth is giving students a chance to learn sign language as part of the Welsh bac.

Ross Thomas, head of the sixth form, said the bac would definitely give his students the edge when it comes to applying to university.

"The advantage is that students get to combine the formal study of A-levels, as well as follow their interests, and develop important skills which are essential for higher education," he said.

Keith Davies, national project director for the Welsh bac, said these innovations showed how the new qualification - now in its second pilot year in 31 schools and colleges - was allowing students to follow their own interests.

"With 70 per cent of Welsh youngsters dropping a language at the end of key stage 3, it is really encouraging to see institutions offering these types of options to motivate young people."

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