Withington Staff Experience Language and Cultural Enrichment

Withington Girls’ School was fortunate to receive Erasmus funding from the European Union for a staff language and cultural programme to enhance our understanding of other cultures and languages.

Under the theme of ‘Empathy, Enrichment, Enhancement’, 20 members of staff took part in 29 mobilities to participate in immersion training courses in France, Spain, Italy and Germany. The courses included five half days of language lessons, cultural visits to local sights and guided tours by local experts, language and cultural quizzes designed to increase knowledge of the local area, sessions on teaching methodology and the opportunity to develop links with schools in the target country.

Giardini di palazzo Pfanner, Lucca

The project involved as many different departments as possible with both teaching and non-teaching staff participating to ensure maximum impact on the life of the school. Out of the 20 participants, only five were language teachers and the other teachers were from 11 other academic departments and our Junior School ensuring a European dimension and influence across a broad range of subjects.

As well as the positive impact on personal wellbeing and obvious delight of being able to travel again, the project has enabled us to modernise our MFL teaching by witnessing and sharing good practice with other language teachers. Whilst in the countries we were able to purchase and collect up-to-date authentic resources such as books and posters as well as learning more about issues such as integration, cinema and festivals, which we can use with our GCSE and A Level classes.

Sampling cheese ice cream (delicious!) in Puente Viesgo, Spain

The trip also represented the philosophy and practice of continuous and lifelong learning – an important ethos that we encourage our pupils to embody. Those that participated had differing levels of experience in their chosen language but all reported a deeper understanding and appreciation of the importance and challenges of learning a language after the fully immersive experience.

And the learning doesn’t stop here.  As a direct result of this programme we have been able to launch an Italian Club as part of our extra-curricular offering. The club is open to all pupils in Year 6 and above for Italian speakers of any level.

Many thanks, Vielen Dank, Grazie mille, Merci beaucoup, Muchas gracias to Madame Menzies for her leadership of the project.