Imberhorne school, a language college in West Sussex, recently hosted Languages and the World of Work, an event for 280 Year 9 pupils. Ten pupils from 28 schools across the authority attended the day, which aimed to raise awareness about languages in the workplace.
The event, the second held at the school, was planned by the West Sussex Language Link group, representing local business and specialist schools, LEA advisers, and co-ordinated by the advisory service.
Pupils took part in workshops run by local companies (British Airways, BAA Gatwick, DHL Rentokil, Smithkline Beecham, Europ Assistance, Travel Santa Fe, The Tourist Information Office, National Trust Standen and Le Meridien Hotel), working alongside language teachers and A-level students from specialist schools in the county.
Budding chefs enjoyed buying ingredients and following recipes in French and German to produce biscuits for a national festival, and those with artistic flair designed a poster for foreign visitors to a National Trust property. An emergency service control room was simulated and pupils dealt with phone calls and faxes from distressed holidaymakers, solving a whole host of problems - from vehicle breakdowns to broken legs.
Most participants were working in languages they ad been studying at school but some workshops began by introducing a new language. Pupils used their new skills to cope with simple tasks simulating workplace activities. Absolute beginners in Spanish took bookings from customers planning study holidays abroad and another group who had learned basic Italian donned uniforms and played the role of British Airways cabin crew, tending to the needs of passengers on an aircraft.
A key feature of the workshops was that each pupil was the only representative from their school - a daunting social challenge!
Accompanying teachers received a file of materials used in previous workshops, entitled Motivating Pupils in Year 9: Vocational Activities for Classroom Use. Sixth-formers designed a website about the day's workshops in English, French and German: www. imberhorne. tech trust. net Workshop starter materials for teachers can be found on the West Sussex website: www. neapc. choolnet.org.uk For details of how to run a similar day contact Janet Horsburgh or Georgina Rolls, Imberhorne School, East Grinstead, tel: 01342 323562.
For the Year 9 activities file (pound;20) contact The INSET Office, County Hall, West Street, Chichester P019 IRF
Gill Beckett is associate adviser for West Sussex. Tel: 01903 847626